by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Patience or panic. Those are the competing impulses among Democrats as the reality sets in that if the election were held today, President Joe Biden would probably lose to former President Donald Trump.
The election is not today but rather nearly a year from now. Democrats counseling caution are quick to note that the polls forecasting Biden’s doom this early out are not predictive by historical standards.
Based on the last few election cycles, there are questions about how predictive modern public polling is, period. And while Trump outperformed his poll numbers in 2016 and 2020, which would spell trouble for Biden in 2024, Republicans did not do so in the midterm elections last year.
Republicans do well in the polls, the argument goes, but Democrats have won many of the actual elections between last November and this month.
Popular perceptions of the economy could improve over the next year, alleviating a major drag on Biden’s popularity. Trump’s legal problems, which by next November could include at least one criminal conviction, the standard anti-MAGA playbook that has worked so well since 2018, abortion, and other issues could help counteract the forces jeopardizing Biden’s second term even if the public never adopts sunnier economic attitudes.
These are all logical arguments and could very well prove true. But they haven’t convinced everyone.
Prominent Democratic operative and analyst David Axelrod, who remains close to former President Barack Obama and reflective of Obamaworld thinking, has warned that Biden has no better than a 50-50 shot at reelection.
“But no better than that, maybe a little worse,” Axelrod told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. “He thinks he can cheat nature here, and it’s really risky. They’ve got a real problem if they’re counting on Trump to win it for them. I remember Hillary doing that, too.”