Opinion

Is a Biden-Harris ticket what Democrats want?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Many Democrats saw President Biden's State of the Union address as his opening argument for a possible 2024 re-election campaign. Biden used the address to "appeal for political unity while touting his legislative achievements and taking credit for some recent improvements to the U.S. economy," writes CNBC. He outlined his policy goals for the next two years, including a new minimum tax on billionaires. He called for bipartisan efforts in Congress to "finish the job" by building on the last Congress' legislative accomplishments, which CNBC said "could lend itself to a re-election campaign." 

His pitch appeared to help win over Democratic Party leaders. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a key Biden backer, said he wants Biden to run again, and the White House says Biden intends to run. But polls still suggest that many of the party's voters hope Biden, who hasn't announced a final decision, will step aside and make room for new blood. Biden, 80, is already the oldest president in U.S. history, and some Democrats want him to pass the torch to a younger leader, according to recent polls. But Vice President Kamala Harris polls poorly — in a Rasmussen poll, only 39 percent wanted Harris on the ticket as Biden's running mate. Is a Biden-Harris ticket what Democrats want in 2024?

Democrats are warming to an inevitable Biden nomination

Biden still doesn't inspire much enthusiasm among Democrats said Philip Bump in The Washington Post. Polling by The Washington Post and ABC News released recently showed that "only 3 in 10 Democrats wanted to see Biden run again." But "there is some good news for Biden." Polling for the Economist by YouGov indicates that "Democrats are increasingly likely to embrace the apparent inevitability of his re-election bid." And unlike former President Donald Trump, Biden is "unlikely to face significant competition" in the primaries, so if he runs "he's much more likely to end up on the ballot in November."

A solid SOTU isn't enough to make this a good idea

Biden's "takedown of House Republicans" during his State of the Union address exceeded "low expectations," said A.B. Stoddard in RealClearPolitics. Making GOP lawmakers "stand for seniors" and applaud his call not to cut Social Security and Medicare "was clutch indeed." The "Dark Brandon performance" appeared to ensure that Democrats will nominate him again, but that would be a mistake. Showing a little "vigor" while reading from a teleprompter doesn't mean he'll be fit to lead the country until he's 86. 

If Democrats want someone new, they need to pick someone fast

Plenty of Democrats still want Biden to "step aside," said William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal. Some want the party to find someone more inspiring. Others have "legitimate fears" about his health. And Democrats who want a different presidential candidate in 2024 have "no shortage of possibilities," including Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, for starters. But nobody seems ready to step up and challenge Biden in the primaries as long as the White House remains convinced that all "Biden has to do is brag a little more and the public will come around to his view of his own greatness."

Biden won't dump Harris as his running mate

A lot of people think that Biden needs to dump Harris as his running mate to improve his chances, said Mark Z. Barabak in the Los Angeles Times. Biden's poll ratings are low, but Harris' are even lower. Warren caused some "Beltway hyperventilation by endorsing the president for a second term but equivocating when it came to keeping Harris as his running mate." But "effectively firing the first female, first Black, and first Asian American vice president would risk a serious backlash from the Democratic base." The "political cost" of finding another running mate, "if the thought ever crossed Biden's mind, would far outweigh any gain." 

Biden should be promoting Harris as a worthy successor, for the sake of his own ticket

Biden should be going out of his way to "bolster Harris," said Francis Wilkinson in Bloomberg. He can rattle off a list of meaningful achievements in a prime-time address, and be "quick on his feet, exploiting his political foes in real time." But he's "still old." And Harris, just 58, has proven herself to be talented enough to rise through the Democratic ranks in California, "hardly a political backwater," by winning statewide races for state attorney general, and the U.S. Senate. "It's Biden's job to bolster Harris, elevate her and convince first Democrats, then the wider electorate, that his vice president is prepared for the top job in the event the actuarial tables scramble the political scene." Biden needed what Harris brought to the ticket in 2020. "He still does."

If Biden does step aside, all bets are off

Harris would be Biden's "heir apparent" if he decided not to run, said Ed Kilgore in New York magazine's "Intelligencer" blog. But the primaries would be far from a slam dunk for her, particularly if Biden decided to withhold his endorsement and "stay out of the nominating process." Unfortunately for Democrats, "a contested 2024 Democratic primary probably wouldn't be a calm, deliberative process. It would more likely be a nasty and complicated slugfest leading to a shaky general-election campaign." Progressive heavyweights like Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders might resurrect their presidential ambitions, and a host of younger candidates, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), Julian Castro, and "even Michael Bennet might go for the gold again." This late in the game, if Biden bows out now, Democrats will "find themselves scrambling."

More From...

Picture of Harold MaassHarold Maass
Read All
The daily business briefing: March 22, 2023
Google's Bard
Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 22, 2023

10 things you need to know today: March 22, 2023
Xi Jinping and President Putin shake hands
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 22, 2023

Indicting the 'Teflon president'
Two hands in cuffs, one giving a thumbs-up and the other giving a thumbs-down
Talking point

Indicting the 'Teflon president'

The daily business briefing: March 21, 2023
The Amazon logo on a sign
Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 21, 2023

Recommended

DeSantis' no good, very bad week
Ron DeSantis at a podium
Behind the scenes

DeSantis' no good, very bad week

How Stephanie became Stormy
Stormy Daniels smiling for a photo
Profile

How Stephanie became Stormy

Amid Trump probe, Manhattan DA's office says it won't be 'intimidated'
Alvin Bragg.
standing firm

Amid Trump probe, Manhattan DA's office says it won't be 'intimidated'

New York Knicks legendary captain Willis Reed dies at 80
Willis Reed.
Rest in Peace

New York Knicks legendary captain Willis Reed dies at 80

Most Popular

Russia's spring Ukraine offensive may be winding down amid heavy losses
Ukrainian tank fires near Bakhmut
Attrition

Russia's spring Ukraine offensive may be winding down amid heavy losses

Adam Gopnik recommends 6 classic books for literature fans
Adam Gopnik.
Feature

Adam Gopnik recommends 6 classic books for literature fans

Nearly 200 banks at risk of SVB-type collapse, study finds
Bank ATM.
not fun to hear

Nearly 200 banks at risk of SVB-type collapse, study finds