US President Biden won the Democratic nomination in 2020 largely because of his electability and ability to unite the full spectrum of Democrats. His success thus far in delivering on his centre-left agenda reiterates the best argument for him to run in 2024: It avoids a brutal primary and the risk of a candidate too far left to win in the general election.
Biden’s higher approval rating in recent weeks is largely a function of his improved standing among Democrats. The Associated Press, for example, reported earlier this month that “78% of Democrats approve of Biden’s job performance, up from 65% in July. Sixty-six per cent of Democrats approve of Biden on the economy, up from 54% in June.”
The most recent Morning Consult-Politico poll confirms the trend and shows the party is warming to the possibility of a reelection campaign. “Roughly 3 in 5 Democratic voters (59%) said Biden should run for reelection in 2024, up from a 51% low set in early July before Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, the president’s signature legislative achievement of the year,” the poll found.
“Over the same time period, separate Morning Consult surveys have found the share of Democratic voters who said Biden has been keeping his promises rose — from 50% in a July 7-9 survey to 69% now.” Among Democrats, there is a 20 percentage point increase in those who have heard positive news about Biden.
It’s not hard to figure out the reasons for Biden’s improved standing. Democrats increasingly credit the president for delivering on campaign promises, including the appointment of an African American woman to the Supreme Court (plus more than 80 diverse lower-court judges); a massive infrastructure plan; a historic investment in green energy; gun safety reforms; and measures to reduce health-care costs (e.g., capping prices for insulin, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug costs, addressing the Affordable Care Act’s “family glitch”).
To a large extent, Biden has proved the adage: If progressives want to advance their agenda, vote for a moderate. Democrats who might prefer a fiery figure or more inspirational speaker should find little to complain about when it comes to Biden delivering on the party’s agenda — especially given that he has no room to spare in a 50-50 Senate.
Biden's Build Back Better plan
Certainly, Biden did not prevail on the his ambitious Build Back Better plan or on his voting-rights reforms. But he has arguably delivered more for Democrats in two years than any president since Lyndon B. Johnson (who, in little more than a year surrounding the 1964 election — with the benefit of huge congressional majorities — signed into law the Voting Rights Act, the War on Poverty’s cornerstone Economic Opportunity Act, federal aid to education, an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, and legislation to create the National Endowment for the Arts).
At a moment when many in the mainstream media narrative insist that former president Donald Trump has consolidated his hold on the party, it is actually Biden who has reaffirmed his broad support. If this persists, it is hard to imagine Biden turning down the chance to run for a second term, provided his health remains strong.
Before LBJ decided against running for reelection after his relatively weak showing in the 1968 New Hampshire primary (because of the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War), the last president to voluntarily give up the chance for a second term was Rutherford B. Hayes.
Biden likes to say, “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.” For Democrats, Biden currently looks much better than the alternative — a highly contentious primary with an untested national standard-bearer. Accordingly, his chances of being the nominee in 2024 have risen dramatically.
Jennifer Rubin is a prominent American political columnist and author