After months, if not years, of speculation over his political future, President Biden is tossing his cap over the wall and formally announced that he will run for a second term in the White House in 2024. Although the timing of Biden's campaign launch has been as much a matter of political expediency as it is a question of personal preference for the candidate, it is hardly a surprise, with the president earlier this month confirming to NBC's Al Roker that he is indeed "planning on running."
Even so, the announcement transitions Biden's campaign into a new, more public, more scrutinized phase; persistent questions about whether Biden should be a candidate now give way to a broader conversation about Biden as a candidate.
'I'm not opposed. I'm not excited.'
Record-breaking 2020 election margins notwithstanding, another Biden campaign launch is "a rollout that many Democrats are greeting more with a sense of stoicism than enthusiasm," The New York Times' Shane Goldmacher noted in a recent exploration of the party's mixed feelings about 2024.
"Regardless of the reservations, regardless of the worry that he is getting up there in age ... when his counterpart is almost as old as he is but is so opposite of what this country deserves, then it's a no-brainer," Democratic party strategist Maria Cardona told Goldmacher. Cardona, also a member of the Democratic National Committee, highlighted one of Biden's biggest challenges — his age — as well as one of his biggest assets: the prospect of a second Trump presidency.
Nearly all the Democrats interviewed by The Washington Post indicated they "would vote for Biden in a general election," even though "some conceded that, while he was far from their first choice, he might be the best option for the current moment — a contrast to a Republican Party promoting grievance and combativeness."
That mixed reception has been evident in recent polls showing nearly half of Democrats want Biden to run again — an uptick from just 37 percent this past January. "A total of 81 percent of Democrats say they would at least probably support Biden in a general election if he is the nominee," The Associated Press noted after its latest poll.
"I think my view is like, I'm not opposed. I'm not excited," Philadelphia-area Democratic councilwoman Shannon Baudoin-Rea told the Post. "Will I vote for him? Absolutely. Will I campaign for him? Of course."
"Am I, like, thrilled? Am I, like, giddy to see him run again?" she added. "No."
'Priorities that had been unachieved for decades'
Among Biden's most prominent backers, particularly those in Congress, proof of his re-election strength is in his presidential pudding. "I feared after the 2020 election that it would be impossible for Biden to govern with the thinnest of majorities in the House and Senate," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) told the Times. "Instead, Biden has been on a legislative tear, tackling Democratic priorities that had been unachieved for decades."
"Nothing unites like success," added Swalwell, who ran against Biden in the 2020 primaries.
"Biden has the kind of record that leads to re-election," Washington Monthly's Matthew Cooper concluded this week. "Yes, his age is unprecedented, but so would losing with his record."
That record, including the party's surprisingly strong showing in the 2022 midterms, has buoyed some lawmakers' hopes that a second Biden campaign could build on the down-ticket electoral gains of the past few cycles. "In those 18 districts that are held by Biden Republicans, he's the best [candidate] in terms of his message and how he approaches this and the coalition that he built in 2020 coming back even stronger in 2024," New Hampshire centrist Democrat Annie Kuster told The Guardian in early March.
Indeed, for some Democrats, Biden's age and low-key demeanor are reasons to support him for a second term in office. "We need stability," New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D) told the Times. "Biden provides that."