President Joe Biden’s reelection seems uncertain in polling data, with voters from key demographics feeling lukewarm about the incumbent president. With a likely rematch against former President Donald Trump in November, the Biden campaign will face a strong opponent and a potential close race. Here are 17 reasons why people are choosing not to reelect Biden.
Bidenomics Message Failing to Land
Biden’s economic agenda, dubbed Bidenomics, has seen the U.S. economy perform well, with low unemployment and falling inflation. Despite the economy performing better since he took office, Biden is struggling to tout his achievements to voters who aren’t feeling the improvements. Voters feel worse off than in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, and many blame Biden. Survey Center on American Life at the American Enterprise Institute director Daniel Cox told NBC News, “The Biden-Harris team [has] not been as aggressively pitching their accomplishments to voters,” which may explain voters’ frustrations.
Biden is 81 years old, making him the oldest president ever to serve. If he won reelection, he would be 86 when he left the White House. Polling has shown that Americans are concerned about his age and worry that it negatively affects his physical and cognitive competence. While Biden has poked fun at his age and his campaign has framed it as an asset, Trump has mocked his cognitive abilities and tendency to fall over. Despite being 77, only four years younger than Biden, Trump has largely escaped similar criticism over his age.
Biden won with younger voters aged 18–34 by a wide margin in 2020, but polling for the 2024 election has shown Trump closing the gap. Many of these young voters are appalled by Biden’s response to the Israel-Hamas war, with voters calling on Biden to call for a ceasefire. The president’s steadfast support for Israel since October 7, 2023, has seen his support drop among young voters. Jayden Camarena, a 24-year-old from California, told NBC News that if Biden called for a ceasefire, “that would make me reconsider” voting for the incumbent president.
Pullout from Afghanistan
The withdrawal of U.S. military troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 after a nearly twenty-year presence in the country resulted in the Taliban taking back control and a refugee crisis as Afghans fled from the new regime. According to Pew Research, “54% of Americans” thought the withdrawal was the right decision at the time of the evacuation. But most Americans think Biden’s handling of the withdrawal was poor, with FiveThirtyEight reporting that “62 percent disapproved of how the Biden administration has handled the withdrawal.”
Biden faces another challenge with the environment. As CNN reported, if he fails to take “bold steps to tackle climate change,” he risks demoralizing young, progressive voters. But GOP candidates are exploiting public skepticism over electric vehicles in several key battlegrounds, leaving Biden with a balancing act that threatens to please no one.
Student Debt Forgiveness
Biden’s attempts to write off tens of billions of dollars in student loan debt have seen mixed success. USA Today reports that the president has wiped out “$132 billion in student loan debt for more than 3.6 million Americans since [he] took office.” But while such actions are popular with younger, progressive voters saddled with federal debt, Republicans have branded the programs as giveaways that discriminate against working-class Americans who didn’t go to college.
Barack Obama campaign veterans are concerned with the direction that Biden’s reelection campaign is taking. They worry his campaign isn’t campaigning aggressively enough and lacks the serious organization needed to beat Trump in November. Progressive senator Bernie Sanders has echoed these concerns and has warned Biden to focus on working-class concerns or risk defeat to “demagogue” Trump.
Unpopular Vice President
Biden’s vice president, Kamala Harris, is widely unpopular. Newsweek reported in December 2023 that Harris’s approval rating was 36.3 percent on December 5, while her disapproval was 53.7 percent. Her approval ratings haven’t been net positive since June 2021, and she is more unpopular than her four predecessors were at the same point in their vice-presidencies. Biden is again picking her as his running mate for the 2024 election. Thomas Gift of the Centre of U.S. Politics told Newsweek that Harris’s unpopularity “could end up being a difference-maker” in the election.
Disadvantages of Incumbency
When Biden won the 2020 election, he had served two terms as vice president but had no presidential baggage that could turn off voters. But this time, as CNN reports, “Biden faces the complications of incumbency, when he will be judged on his own record—unlike in 2020 when he exploited the chaotic pandemic leadership of a president who mused on camera whether injecting disinfectant could cure Covid-19.”
Southern Border Crisis
Over six million migrants have illegally entered the U.S. since Biden took office in 2021. A January CBS poll found that “nearly half” of Americans view the situation at the border as a crisis, with 63% saying that the administration should adopt “tougher policies.” Biden’s lack of support for his border policies comes as Republicans push for the impeachment of his Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his handling of the southern border.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer known for his controversial views on vaccines, is running for the 2024 presidency as an Independent. Critical of both Biden and Trump, if Kennedy qualifies in all 50 states, he could take votes away from Biden in November, hurting his chance of reelection.
Former President Donald Trump, Biden’s likely opponent in November, is facing four criminal indictments amounting to a total of 91 felony charges. Trials will begin in March and May 2024, which could see Trump imprisoned. Even if he’s convicted, Trump will not be disqualified from the presidential candidacy, and polling data has shown his support rise with each new indictment.
Biden’s son Hunter’s struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction have been well documented. But his business dealings and their alleged links to President Biden have been scrutinized. Congressional Republicans have investigated this alleged influence-peddling, and while they have so far failed to produce tangible evidence linking the president to wrongdoing, BBC News reports that they have launched a “formal impeachment inquiry into the president, alleging a ‘culture of corruption’ within his family.”
Lowest Approval Ratings Since 1948
CNBC reported on Biden’s 1,054th day in office that the president “holds the lowest approval rating among his predecessors dating back to 1948. With a 37.7% rating, economic concerns and disapproval of military aid spending have hit his standing.” Approval ratings this low less than a year before the election could hurt his chance of reelection as voters blame him for a myriad of issues.
Losing Support Among Voters of Color
A recent report from ABC News found that Biden’s approval ratings among Asian American, African American, and Hispanic voters have decreased since he entered office in 2021. But this isn’t necessarily a death blow to his reelection chances, AAPI Data founder Karthick Ramakrishnan told ABC News. Even though Biden has suffered a decline in popularity among people of color, he’s still more popular than the Republican alternatives.
Voters Staying at Home
Many voters aren’t thrilled by the prospect of a Biden vs. Trump rematch in November; some have indicated their willingness to stay home rather than vote for Biden. Pru Carmichael told NBC News that she “will likely leave those boxes empty” if the choice falls between Biden or Trump. She lamented that she had given Biden “one shot and it was not worth it.”
Relying on “Never Trump”
As it has become ever more apparent that Trump is the presumptive GOP presidential candidate, Biden has again focused on reminding voters of Trump’s behavior, use of language deemed political violence, and his role on January 6. But relying on this alone may not be enough to secure a second term in office, as many voters feel the economy was better off under Trump.
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