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Yes, Joe Biden is old and has low approval ratings, but this is why he’s still confident of re-election


America’s first octogenarian president has finally announced he’s seeking more time in office amid lackluster public enthusiasm.

On the surface, the challenges to re-election of US President Joe Biden seem daunting. After Donald Trump’s failed campaign in 2020, this is the second time in four years that a sitting US president the majority of Americans did not wish to run again, announced his re-election.

But while many of his supporters are apprehensive, Biden has made it clear that he is eager to see his chances.

The age-old question

As the oldest sitting US president ever, Biden’s age and ability to connect with younger generations remain a central point of criticism of his viability as a second-term candidate.

Concern over the 80-year-old Biden’s physical condition only highlights the fact that the energy and exorbitant demands required to run a presidential campaign have overwhelmed many younger presidential candidates.

Moreover, after leading much of his 2020 presidential campaign from home due to the pandemic, Biden will now have to spend a significant amount of time traveling and fundraising around the country for the next 18 months, in addition to keeping his day job as president.

Biden has repeatedly acknowledged and countered such concerns with statements such as:All I can say is, “watch me””. But in an effort not to give the blunder-prone president a microphone, the Biden administration has severely limited the public’s ability to do so by granting the smallest number of media interviews for a sitting president since the Reagan administration.

Biden’s reelection video launch.

Possible lagging economic indicators

Beyond Biden’s age and ability to relate to the approx 96% of Americans younger than him, there is also the challenge of not knowing how the US economy will fare on Election Day in November 2024.

When Trump announced his re-election campaign on June 19, 2019, the US economy faced little headwind. record low unemployment rates, both nationally and across several major demographics. But on election day, 16 months later, the country was still recovering from a pandemic-fueled economic downturn that highest unemployment rate since 1941 and 5.4 million Americans lose their health insurance.

Read more: Could Joe Biden be the most consistent US president of our time?

American presidents are generally favored to win re-election. But in each of the four reelection losses that have occurred over the past century — Herbert Hoover in 1932, Jimmy Carter in 1980, George HW Bush in 1992, and Trump in 2020 — the U.S. economy has recently been in recession, full recession, or depression. .

Today the US even lower levels of unemployment than when Trump announced his re-election bid in 2019 — in fact the lowest since 1969. At the same time, a central criticism of the Biden administration — the highest inflation in decades – seems to be slow improve.

Biden talks about manufacturing jobs and the economy at a Michigan computer chip factory in November 2022.
Patrick Semansky/AP

That said, the US Federal Reserve’s continued rate hikes have put pressure on both banks And homeowners. The Federal Reserve also undeniably has one mixed plate on reducing inflation without triggering a recession.

A lot can happen before Election Day, but last month’s Bloomberg survey of economists found that the likelihood of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months is minimal. 65%.

Again, time and conventional wisdom may not be in Biden’s favor.

Moderate public enthusiasm

Politicians often view decisive electoral victories by significant margins as voter mandates for their policy agenda. Biden won by one thin margin in the “swing states” that defined the presidency in 2020 – by no means giving him a clear mandate.

Two and a half years later, Biden’s approval ratings don’t appear to have noticeably improved. Due to a combination of factors – the U.S. military’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan, record levels migrant border crossings, high public concern about crime, and ongoing economic fears related to inflation – Biden currently has only one 43% national approval rating. That should come as no surprise two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.

While three-quarters of Democrats approve of Biden’s work, the majority still do do not want that he is running for re-election.

finally, only three presidents over the past half century — Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Trump — have announced their re-election campaigns with similarly negative approval ratings. Only Reagan ended up winning a second term.

Read more: 80 is different in 2023 than in 1776 – but even then a grizzled Franklin led alongside a young Hamilton

Comparing him to “the alternative”

Perhaps no Biden quote better reflects his confidence to win in 2024 than: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

a recent survey of registered US voters thought Biden lost to a generic Republican presidential nominee in 2024, 47% to 41%. While many campaigns would initially be concerned about such a statistic, few commentators have highlighted it, as Biden clearly will not run against a generic Republican nominee.

Trump is leading the Republican nomination in most polls. And after his involvement in the January 6, 2021 raid on the US Capitol and the prospect of a series of unprecedented indictments, Biden’s revulsion with the general public seems to be overshadowed by a more impassioned revulsion for Trump.

While Trump’s grip on grassroots Republicans seems strong, the three national elections since his 2016 victory — the Republican loss of dozens of seats in the House in the 2018 midterm elections, Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election and the mediocre performance of Trump-backed candidates in the 2022 midterm elections — have put a significant damper on his nationwide appeal.

Unsurprisingly, a recent one poll found that in a general election contest between Trump and Biden, the incumbent president has a four-point lead over Trump (46-42%).

Most Americans quote “exhaustionas the most dominant feeling when thinking about a Biden-Trump matchup in 2024. Biden assumes that they are slightly less exhausted by him than by his rival.

Despite Biden’s pride in his legislative achievements, his team seems largely satisfied that the 2024 election will be a referendum on Trump (yet again) and “extreme “Make America Great Again” Republicansinstead of a vote on Biden’s term as president.

Rather than view his age and moderate public support as weaknesses to be overcome, the Biden team hopes that his relative stability, born of half a century of experience in Washington, will continue to be a welcome relief to many Americans after such a exhausting period in American politics.

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