So it’s the question everyone is asking: will he or won’t he?
The “he,” of course, is Joe Biden, and political pundits are wondering whether he’ll seek reelection next year as 2024 looms. Publicly, Biden has assured his party that he’ll be running for a second term as president—but that can hardly be a comforting thought for most Democrats. There’s a near-unanimous consensus in Washington—no easy feat to accomplish—that the Dems will be swept out of Congress in this year’s midterm elections, and Biden’s approval ratings seem to plumb new lows each week amid the unceasing string of bad economic news, policy failures, and foreign chaos that has characterized his administration’s time in office.
And let’s not forget that Biden would be 81 in November 2024, making him by far the oldest person ever to hold the office of president of the United States. So it’s natural that some are wondering whether he might decide not to run again. After all, the move wouldn’t be unprecedented for a Democrat—Lyndon Johnson refused to seek reelection in 1968.
It should come as no surprise, then, that many in the Democrat Party are looking beyond Biden, to see who might replace him at the top of the 2024 presidential ticket. A recent article in The Hill ranked the top five Democratic contenders most likely to get the nod if Biden takes a pass, and it’s safe to say they aren’t any shockers.
At the top of the list is Vice President Kamala Harris. Naturally, the current vice president is by default the top contender in the event that the president should bow out, but Harris’ nomination is by no means guaranteed. She’s disliked even more than Biden is, with some polls showing a comfortable majority of 62% disapproving of her job performance.
That leaves the Democrats in the peculiar position of having no clear candidate who’s a lock to take over from Biden if he refuses the 2024 nomination. The second pick after Kamala Harris would likely be Pete Buttigieg, the current Transportation Secretary, who had a strong showing during the 2020 presidential run.
Although “Mayor Pete” might seem like a good candidate, his time as a cabinet member has been marred by a less than stellar performance amid the numerous supply chain crises that have rocked the Biden administration. For instance, he was notably on “paternity leave” during a supply chain meltdown last year that saw container ships backed up off the coast of California.
So who else is left? The Hill article suggests Elizabeth Warren, who has consistently maintained that she is concentrated on her Senate run, and has no plans to run for president in 2024. But if Biden gets out, it’s likely her plans will change.
Then there’s perennial presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, widely seen as the leader of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing—which pretty much makes him the de facto leader of the Democratic Party. He’s almost certainly mulling another run, but in 2024 he’ll be nearly as ancient as Biden himself.
Finally, there’s Amy Klobuchar, about whom the less said the better. Some political strategists, however, think that her delivery of a keynote address to Democrats in New Hampshire earlier this year was a signal that she was preparing for a presidential run.
If The Hill’s rankings are correct, it means 2024—at least on the Democratic side—will be just another boring rehash of 2020. Far more interesting, and far more uncertain, is how things will shake out on the Republican side.
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