A recent poll from The Economist and YouGov has bad news for President Biden: Just 21 percent of the 1,500 U.S. adults surveyed at the end of January want him to run for president again in 2024. About the same percentage of respondents weren't sure yet, but for a hefty 58 percent, the answer was a resounding "no."
Election season is fast approaching, and former President Donald Trump has already launched his 2024 re-election campaign. Will Biden do the same?
Has Biden said he'll run for president again?
Biden has yet to formally announce he's running in 2024, but a reading of the tea leaves suggests he probably will — and soon. His closest advisers have consulted officials in battleground states, and the president is planning a series of fundraisers with Democratic donors. One donor said they were "told to expect fundraising to ramp up in the March and April time frame." CNN reports Biden is expected to announce sometime shortly after the State of the Union address on Feb. 7.
The president has expressed his intention of running for re-election many times. Following the Democrats' surprisingly successful midterm elections, Biden said, "Our intention is to run again." And in some ways, he is already acting like a candidate: When Trump announced his bid for re-election on Nov. 15, the Biden team put out counterprogramming showcasing the Democrat as the better candidate. Aides have reportedly begun to piece together a campaign behind the scenes, NBC News reports. They intend to have a small campaign staff and rely heavily on the resources of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). "He's running and we're building an infrastructure for him to run and win," said Cedric Richmond, a key Biden adviser who's currently in the DNC.
A senior administration official said Biden's team and allies "operate under the assumption he's running," CNN reported.
What's he waiting for?
Those close to Biden say he has been purposely dragging out an announcement to avoid the immediate campaign laws that would take effect. When asked why he hadn't formally made up his mind, Biden responded: "Once I make that judgment, a whole series of regulations kick in and I have to be — I treat myself as a candidate from that moment on."
At the same time, "momentum for the president's re-election announcement has stalled" due to the discovery of classified documents in Biden's Delaware home and a former office of his, Bloomberg reported.
Still, sources say his campaign has long been in the making, with one adviser remarking that Biden's campaign will "have the benefit of turning things on whenever we want them, as fast as we want them."
Do Democrats want Biden to run?
Some within his own party have avoided weighing in on the matter at all. For example, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked in September whether she believed Biden should run again, she responded by saying that she's "not having that conversation," Time reports. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference in September that she was "not going into politics about whether the president should run or not."
Others have responded with enthusiasm to the idea. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said "if he runs, I'll support him," and California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was "pro-Biden," Time continues.
The Democrats' solid showing in the midterms certainly helped Biden's prospects. He "had the best midterms of any Democratic president since JFK," Delaware's Sen. Chris Coons told The New York Times. "It'd be hard not to look at that and say, 'OK, there's still a role, there's still a path, there's still important things to do.'" Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Biden "has the wind behind his back, he's gotten a lift from doing better than expected, while Trump is obviously part of a Republican Party meltdown. When you look at it in that frame, Biden has emerged in a stronger position."
Despite this, some are unsure whether Biden deserves any credit for the midterm victories. A House Democrat explained that he supports Biden, but added that "a lot of things went right at the right time to end the year the way we did," and that, "[Democrats are] overreading just how responsible they are for what came together."
Is anyone planning to run against Biden?
There are a few contenders waiting in the wings. Both Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris have engaged with donors in preparation for a potential campaign should Biden not run, according to CNBC. Harris has reportedly been in touch with allies who helped on her campaigns for district attorney in California.
Do voters want Biden to run again?
The public is more hesitant about Biden as a repeat nominee. A CNBC survey from December found that 57 percent of Democrat-leaning respondents and 66 percent of independent voters do not want Biden to run again. That number was actually quite an improvement from July, when 75 percent of Democratic voters did not want Biden to run again. As of the end of January, Biden's approval rating was at about 44 percent, a decrease from the beginning of January, when classified documents were discovered at his residence.
There are also murmurings about Biden's advancing age. He is already the oldest president in history, and he will be nearing 82 on Election Day 2024. "My hunch is that we need new leadership across the board — Democrats, Republicans, I think it's time for a generational move," Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan has remarked. In a New York Times interview, Pelosi said age was "not a positive thing" for Biden.
But Biden "spent his entire adult lifetime running for president, and on the third try, he finally got there," Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, told The Guardian. "Who would give it up under those conditions, who? Almost nobody?"
Updated Feb. 1, 2023: This piece has been updated throughout to reflect the latest speculation about a potential Biden run.