Joe Biden and Donald Trump have something in common. Voters don’t want them to run for the 2024 presidential election. Despite this, the next presidential race is likely to be a repeat of the 2020 showdown.
Both are the favorites, even if they don’t inspire enthusiasm from either the population or their own parties. There’s a sense of déjà vu, only the situation has been reversed. This time, Biden is in the White House and Trump is in the opposition.
In this scenario, Biden is in the weaker position. According to the latest major national poll, published last weekend by NBC, 70% of Americans believe that Biden should not run for a second term, compared to 26% who are in favor. What’s more, 51% of Democrats don’t want him to run for re-election. Of the respondents who do not want Biden to be a candidate, half list his age as an “important” reason. Biden is America’s first octogenarian president. The 2024 election will be held weeks before his 82nd birthday. If elected, he would be 86 — the current age of Pope Francis — by the time he finished his second term. There are only three other world leaders who are older: Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, 90, Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas, 87, and Saudi Arabia’s Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 87. Trump, his likely rival, is 76.
Biden has sometimes made mention of his age, arguing that he would not run for re-election if he were not in good health. Neither the negative polls nor his age appear to have deterred him. For months, Biden has made it clear that he plans to run, which dissuaded possible Democratic rivals from announcing candidacies. And on Tuesday, he officially announced his 2024 re-election bid. The truth is that for the Democrats, there is no other viable alternative.
Ahead of the announcement, Biden had been touting the achievements of his government’s first two years. As he enters the second half of his term, it will be more difficult for him to pass new legislation as Republicans control the House of Representatives. That’s why he is focusing on what he has already achieved. However, during his State of the Union address in February, Biden did reach out to lawmakers across the aisle.
“The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere,” he said. “And that’s always been my vision for our country. To restore the soul of the nation. To rebuild the backbone of America, the middle class. To unite the country. We’ve been sent here to finish the job.”
Biden used the phrase “finish the job” 12 different times during his speech, referring to the economy, tax reform, healthcare, education, gun control and police reform. It was also the title of the video announcing his reelection bid.
Trump, Republican front-runner
According to the NBC poll, which was carried out between April 14 and 18, 60% of voters don’t believe Trump should run for president, compared to 35% who are in favor.
The poll — which was carried out by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies and surveyed 1,000 adults — was conducted after Trump’s indictment, but this does not seem to have hurt the former president’s popularity among Republican voters. Trump is the favorite to win the Republican presidential primaries, with 46% of Republican voters listing him as their preferred candidate. His closest rival, on 31%, is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not yet announced whether he will run. Despite this, the Trump campaign has already begun flooding TV stations with ads attacking him.
The other official and possible Republican presidential candidates trail far behind: former vice president Mike Pence is on 6%; South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson are on 3%, and just 2% of respondents picked businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
While 70% of voters did not think Biden should run, compared to 60% for Trump, the president remains more popular than the real estate tycoon. According to the poll, 38% of adults have a positive view of Biden, versus 48% with a negative view (-10). That’s compared with Trump’s 34% positive, 53% negative rating (-19).
In other words, the 2024 election is shaping up to be a race between two candidates with low popularity ratings, whom most voters would prefer not to run at all. In 2020, Biden was able to mobilize voters to cast their ballots against Trump, and successfully used the same tactic for the 2022 midterm elections. Trump, for his part, mocks and attacks Biden at every opportunity. The battle is likely to be decided by which candidate provokes more opposition, not which inspires more hope. May the worst man lose.
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