While former President Trump has the backing of a wide plurality of Republicans – and a growing share of Independents and swing voters – Democrats are in distress about Biden’s plummeting polling numbers, and some are quietly considering the prospect of replacing Biden on the Democratic ticket.
U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) is speaking out about Biden’s inability to lead and indicating Democrats need to choose an alternate candidate to replace him if they are to maintain the White House in 2024.
Phillips told CNN‘s Jake Tapper although he “thinks the world of Joe Biden” he has “grave concerns” about Biden’s ability to continue serving as president and win reelection.
“The numbers are horrific”, Phillps said, speaking of the share of Americans who want an alternate candidate. “Fifty-five percent of Democrats, about 73% of Independents…are saying we want an alternative.”
While Phillips has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to be considered for the Democratic nomination, that could change. Phillips mentioned “six or eight people”, who he believes should enter the race as Biden alternatives in the Democratic primaries and blamed “an incumbent President with an institution around him who is protecting him”, for the reluctance of these contenders to step froward.
Tapper pushed further for names of these contenders, mentioning California Governor Gavin Newsom, Michigan Governor Gretchin Whitmer, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Unfortunately, each of these contenders face their own uphill battle should they decide to run. A spring Quinnipiac poll found, for example, that 70% of Californians do not want Newsom to run for president. Whitmer faced backlash during the covid-19 lockdowns and struggles with Independents in polls. Harris has earned the title for the lowest rating of a Vice President on record accruing to a recent NBC News poll.
While Biden is clearly floundering to maintain support within the Democratic base, there’s little evidence the most thrown around alternatives would do better than Biden. However, a third-party challenge or an “alternative” Democratic primary challenger could do real damage.
The latest national polls show Trump and Biden in a dead-heat but when a third-party progressive candidate like Cornel West is added to the race, he hurts Biden more than Trump. In Emerson polling this spring, West pulled in 6% of the vote as a third-party candidate but drew 15% of the Black vote and 13% of voters under 35, groups Biden is already struggling with. By this metric, Biden cedes these voters he can’t afford, and Trump loses far less.
While Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marriane Williamson have largely been dismissed as fringe Democrats stepping up to challenge Biden, the momentum they are building is also cause for concern for Biden.
The same Emerson poll conducted this spring shows Kennedy polling at 15% among Democratic Primary voters while Williamson is polling at 3%, and 10% of voters said they’d support someone else. This translates to over a quarter of Democrats leaning toward one of the two leading Biden-alternatives within the party.
Regardless of whether these two candidates genuinely pose a challenge to Biden’s standing in the primaries, there’s no assurance that supporters of Kennedy and Williamson will rally behind Biden in the general election. In fact, Kennedy polls better with Republicans than he does with Democrats.
We know that in 2016 roughly 10% of Bernie Sanders supporters ended up switching sides and supporting Former President Trump, and that is a real possibility with Kennedy and Williamson supporters, who tend to be younger swing voters. .
A spring Morning Consult poll found R.F.K’s largest block of support comes from women, younger voters, and those with some college education but no degree. Kennedy also polled well with Independents, securing 33% of their vote in the poll.
Women are one of the groups within the Democratic party who are most open to an alternative candidate according to recent polling. The Morning Consult poll found 13% of women compared to 7% of men said they’d support Kennedy as a primary challenger.
Both a third-party challenger in the form of progressive activist Cornel West and challengers from within the Democratic Party pose threats to Biden by dividing left-wing voters, as well as attracting swing voters and Independents.
Democrats have three important questions to answer in the next few months. One, can President Biden and those protecting him realize the warning signs and throw their support behind a Democratic alternative without creating division? Two, is it too late to change course and replace Biden as the nominee? Three, among a slate of Democratic contenders, who should the party throw their support behind?
Prominent “covid governors” including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are two of the names that have been thrown around the most, but each face vehement opposition and could hardly be portrayed as appealing to moderates and Independents, with whom the party is on thin ice.
Trump, meanwhile, is forging ahead and amassing an ever-widening lead over his closest challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, even as he is pummeled with multiple indictments. Trump’s biggest challenger at the moment is not DeSantis or Christie, but the political apparatus working overtime to derail him.
Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation. Original here. Reproduced with permission.