Democrat Strategist Sounds the Alarm About What's Really Behind Joe Biden's Reelection Woes

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Joe Biden is currently tucked away in Delaware, preparing for the first debate of the 2024 presidential race. After heading there mid-week, he has canceled all public events as he tries to produce a turnaround moment for his flagging campaign. 

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SEE: More Tips on What Biden May Do in Debate,
As His Walk to Marine One Raises Questions


Why is that needed? Because the president currently enjoys the lowest approval rating of any president in the polling era. His policies have been disastrous, and Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with the direction of the country. There's another major issue, though: Joe Biden himself.

A Democrat strategist is sounding the alarm about what's really dragging down the president's reelection effort, and it's not as simple as tweaking some messaging and incessantly shouting about January 6th. 

The split in political fortunes between the president and other Democrats has grown unmistakably clear to party leaders, laying plain the degree to which Biden’s problems appear to be Biden-specific. Interviews with Democratic lawmakers, strategists and former party officials in Washington and the states found Democrats increasingly willing to acknowledge that the president’s political difficulties are anchored in Biden’s individual vulnerabilities — including his age, his inconsistent messaging and his dismal support among young people.

“Democrats are enthusiastic about trying to win the Senate and trying to win the House,” said Neil Oxman, a Pennsylvania-based Democratic strategist.

And they’re “not enthusiastic about Biden’s reelection,” Oxman said. “Period.”

The basis of Niel Oxman's critique is recent polling showing Biden significantly trailing his fellow Democrats in various states. For example, while Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey currently leads his Republican challenger by an average of five points, Trump leads Biden in the same state by an average of two points. Results like that are being repeated in Arizona, Ohio, Nevada, and even North Carolina, where state-wide Democrats are running ahead while the president lags well behind. 

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That tends to point to Biden being Biden's biggest problem, not just the Democratic Party platform, as abhorrent as I find it personally. No doubt, his mental decline, as well as increasing worries about his physical appearance (i.e., how he walks and interacts with others), are a driving force behind the president's increasingly subpar reelection effort. Biden can't de-age, and the majority of Americans have already garnered the opinion that he's simply too old and incapable to do the job. 

There is one thing Democrats are clinging to for hope, though. 

Democrats are cautious of over-interpreting the results of special elections — contests that are typically low-turnout affairs and likely do not translate to a presidential election. But they are a confidence boost for Democrats fretting about the top of the ticket.

“Just about every time Democrats have been on the ballot in specials since the 2022 election, we have overperformed,” said Mike Tate, a former Wisconsin Democratic Party chair. “I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that will not go up the ballot.”

I'd love to be able to debunk what Mike Tate says above, but I can't. He's right that Democrats have generally overperformed going back to the 2022 election, especially in special elections. That should be the thing that gives Republicans pause. All the polling in the world is meaningless if GOP turnout doesn't overcome Democrat turnout, and trying to use primaries to judge that is a fool's errand. 

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Still, Biden remains a liability and one that can't be easily jettisoned. Another strategist cited by Politico suggested that all the president needs to do is present a strong image and sell his policies better. Again, that's simply not possible. Biden is who he is. He is not going to suddenly turn into a smooth-talking salesman who can convince people he's competent. Barring the president stepping down voluntarily, perhaps citing a health issue, Democrats are stuck. Maybe it's enough in November or maybe it's not, but right now, they can't feel good about their position.

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