United States
How to Prepare for a Potential Biden Exit Before Election

Joe Biden, who took office in January 2021, was expected to be the “placeholder president” to heal the country after four turbulent years of Donald Trump. However, his decision to run for re-election has become a major flashpoint for Democrats, with polling showing a dismal sub-40% approval rating. Trump, the “inevitable” Republican nominee, has jumped into the lead in a head-to-head match against Biden in almost every swing state. Many allies worry that Biden is at risk of overstaying his welcome and passing the baton to his rival, which Biden himself pillories as an existential threat to democracy.

It is technically not too late for Biden to bow out in 2024. If he does it before March, there would still be time for other Democrats to get their name on many primary ballots, although deadlines for more than 30 states have already passed. If he doesn’t do so by then, his successor would be determined in a high-stakes fracas at the party’s convention scheduled for late August.

Biden’s chances of changing course in 2024 are slim due to two main reasons: he has proven he can beat Trump and there is no obvious heir apparent. Biden won the 2020 Democrat nomination due to his blue-collar background, moderate voter appeal, and persuasive appeal as the most “electable” Democrat. In the general election, Democrats’ faith in him paid off, as Biden tipped key swing states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, which had gone for Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The Democrats also lack a deep bench of obvious successors, and Biden sees himself as sparing the party from a brutal nomination fight.Trump has dominated the Republican primaries, defeating former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, securing a commanding lead. A contested Democrat primary would be punishing, and the candidate who emerged would be battle-tested but potentially too busy nursing wounds to pivot into the general election.

Four years ago, many envisioned Kamala Harris as Biden’s natural heir, but her recent approvals at 37% are the lowest of any first-term VP since Dan Quayle in the early 1990s. Other familiar names who ran in 2020 could step in for Biden, but they were unable to unite Democrat moderates and progressives, much less win over Republicans and swing voters. Some speculate that California governor Gavin Newsom is running a “shadow campaign” for the White House, while Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is “happy to be interrogated” about a presidential bid.

New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been rumored as a potential replacement for Biden, but a hard, populist leftist without the appeal of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders would almost certainly guarantee a Trump victory. Experts have also speculated about a “savior” parachuting into the Democrat Convention, such as former first lady Michelle Obama or TV personality Oprah Winfrey.

There is no turning back, and if Biden misfires, it may take several years to understand the full effects of his choice. A Trump sequel could bring volatility and serious tests to US democratic norms and institutions, or a “revenge term,” a manifestation of the ugly underbelly that manifested in the attack on the US Capitol. Biden’s legacy will depend on whether he refused to be the “placeholder president,” and his legacy will be tied to whether he refused to be the “placeholder president.”

Donald TrumpHow to Prepare for a Potential Biden Exit Before the ElectionJoe BidenUnited StatesUSUS Election