The president’s approval rating hit a new low on Wednesday, with 39 percent of those surveyed by the Morning Consult pollster saying they disapprove of his job performance, down from 42 percent a month earlier.
The pollster pointed out that the latest numbers are five points below those of Donald Trump at the same point in his presidency.
Senior Democratic officials, lawmakers, and ordinary voters have expressed concerns about President Joe Biden’s fitness for a second term, fearing the stalling of much of his agenda, his age, and perceived unfitness to take on Donald Trump in 2024 could become an “anchor” that will sink the party, according to a New York Times report citing nearly 50 Democrats.
The anti-Biden sentiment being whispered in the back rooms of Capitol Hill, as well as party and union meetings, comes against the backdrop of the looming November midterms, where all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 seats in the 100-seat Senate, and thousands of positions in state and local government will be up for grabs.
Democrats fear the party’s association with the president, who has presided over surging inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, a series of deadly mass shootings, a Supreme Court planning to roll back federal abortion rights, and the stalling of the “Build Back Better” and voting rights agendas, may cost them dearly come November.
“To say our country was on the right track would flagrantly depart from reality”, Democratic National Committee member Steve Simeonidis said. Biden, he said, should publicly “announce his intent not to seek re-election in ’24 right after the midterms”.
Biden’s age, 79 today and 82 on inauguration day in January 2025, was characterised as a heavy liability for most of the Democrats interviewed by the NYT, even though the matter remained a taboo for all but pro-Republican-leaning officials and media ahead of 2020.
“The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue”, former Clinton and Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said. Axelrod complained that Biden wasn’t getting “the credit he deserves” on issues like COVID, the Ukraine crisis, and his role in “restoring decency and decorum to the White House” because he “looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was”.
Biden’s number two, Vice President Kamala Harris, is also unpopular among those interviewed, given her own stream of gaffes and scandals.
However, Cristobal Alex, a senior Biden campaign adviser and former deputy cabinet secretary, criticised his comrades for dumping on the president, and blasted them for failing to “more aggressively” tout “the success of the administration”. Alex did not elaborate on what these were.
Faiz Shakir, campaign manager for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during his 2020 presidential run, said that the 80-year-old senator “has not ruled out” running again in 2024 if Biden does not, and expressed concerns that a Republican like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida could unseat the current president, even if Trump Part II could not. However, other anonymous Democrats expressed concerns that Biden may lose even to Mr Trump, who has repeatedly hinted at plans to run again to take back the victory “stolen” from him in the last election.
Former Democratic Committee chairman Howard Dean dubbed the generation of Democratic leaders after him, including Biden, “just a complete trash heap”, accusing them of spreading “pie-in-the-sky and kumbaya” mantras instead of providing “specific examples of how we’re dealing with things”.