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The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Democrats should be worried: Joe Biden’s 2024 election prospects

Discussion around Joe Biden’s poll numbers has been increasing during the last few weeks. While much could change from now, I believe that Joe Biden’s election prospects are becoming increasingly concerning. Democrats should be worried about losing to Donald Trump. 

Recently, numerous polls showed that Joe Biden is losing to Trump in five of six key swing states: Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. While yes, the 2024 election is a year away and these polls offer a snapshot of current opinion rather than direct predictions, Democrats should be concerned that if the election was held tomorrow, Trump would be more than likely to win. 

Biden’s biggest threat is the economy, not Trump or any other Republican candidate. As of October 2023, Gallup measured that 74% of Americans believe the economy is getting worse. While several economic indicators suggest otherwise (unemployment, GDP growth, job growth etc.), Biden should be worried that people don’t believe those indicators. Political science research suggests that the economy is an incredibly salient aspect of a president’s electoral outcomes. 

To be honest, I am not sure what Biden’s solution is here. Biden’s attempt to change the narrative around the economy through his Bidenomics messaging has largely failed and his team is seemingly moving away from that language. Inflation is at the top of people’s minds and for many people, it is hard to ignore these positive indicators when the cost of groceries continues to increase. Political science research indicates that president’s struggle to alter public opinion through their rhetoric, so I don’t believe that is the answer either. Unfortunately, I think that this incredibly important variable to his electoral fate is largely out of his control, as the president does not have the means to largely influence the performance of the economy through policy.

Biden has been relatively successful in Congress as he passed legislation like the CHIPS Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and a variety of other initiatives. However, Biden’s team has failed to properly market these policy victories to the public. 

Another important factor that I believe is contributing to Biden’s polling performance is his age and perceived mental fitness. As someone who voted for Biden in 2020, it is incredibly hard to ignore his gaffs when he speaks. During almost every speech that I watch of Biden, I am hoping that he doesn’t have an embarrassing gaff (unfortunately that is quite rare). I also think that people are tired of having such old people run for candidates. Young voters especially want to see someone more inspirational and transformative, rather than a relic from the past. While both Trump and Biden are very old, Biden’s gaffes add to the criticism and once again, I don’t think is fixable. 

Joe Biden’s current campaign plan has largely been to ignore it. While he is raising large amounts of money, he really hasn’t expressed much interest in traditional campaign style events. While this will increase as Election Day gets closer, Biden should increase these activities to generate more excitement from his base. Again though, Biden’s words do not move people. Barack Obama could inspire people. Sadly, Biden lacks that ability. 

Biden has also ignored the other candidates in the race that could potentially take some of Biden’s voters. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West are running as independent candidates. Although Kennedy is seemingly gunning for both Democrats and Republicans through his often-confusing policy positions, I believe he is still a threat to Biden. Given his polling performance right now, Biden should be scared of any vote being lost to Kennedy. West is a very progressive candidate, which can hurt him among younger voters. Although it is a possibility both of these candidates will not end up on any ballots, Biden’s team should at the very least acknowledge the fact that third party candidates could take some of his votes. 

While I hope Joe Biden wins in 2024, Democrats need to work especially hard to re-elect him in 2024. If the election was held tomorrow, I think Biden would lose given his current performance. Biden’s team should be worried. 

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