President Joe Biden insists that he hasn’t made up his mind whether to run for a second term. But the public sure has.
Almost three in four Americans (72%) said that they do not want Biden to run again in 2024, according to a new national Marquette Law School poll released on Thursday, a striking number – especially when you consider that Biden’s approval rating in the same poll was relatively solid (for him) at 45%.
It’s not then that large swaths of the American public think Biden is doing a terrible job and want him out. It’s just that people – across the political spectrum – don’t want him to run again in two years’ time.
While Republicans are unsurprisingly keen on Biden bowing out (88% don’t want him to run again), so too are independents (79% don’t want him to run again). And even among Biden’s Democratic base, his numbers on the question are middling, with 52% saying he should run again and the other 48% saying he should not.
Polls conducted over the summer from CNN and the New York Times/Siena College found that large majorities of Democrats wanted to the party nominate someone other than Biden for president in 2024.
It’s not immediately clear why so many people in the Marquette poll lean against a Biden reelection bid since the pollster didn’t ask respondents to offer a reason for their skepticism. But past polls have suggested that Biden’s advanced age – he is 79 and will turn 82 shortly after the 2024 election – plays a large factor in doubts Americans have about him serving a second term.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s clear that Democratic politicians have gotten the message on Biden. Witness House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s answer Thursday when asked by CNN whether Biden should run again or step aside in 2024.
“President Biden is the President of the United States,” responded Pelosi. “He did a great service to our country. He defeated Donald Trump, let’s not forget that. I’m not going into politics about whether the President should run or not.”
Which is not an answer to the question she was asked!
Other Democrats have been more willing than Pelosi to go on the record with their concerns about Biden running again.
“My hunch is that we need new leadership across the board – Democrats, Republicans, I think it’s time for a generational move,” Rep. Tim Ryan, who is the Democratic nominee for the open Senate seat in Ohio, said in a recent interview. Later, Ryan added: “The President said from the very beginning he was going to be a bridge to the next generation, which is basically what I was saying.”
(Fact check: True! At a March 2020 campaign event, Biden said this: “Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else.”)
Over the summer, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips said: “I think the country would be well served by a new generation of compelling, well-prepared, dynamic Democrats to step up.”
New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney said that she didn’t “believe [Biden is] running for re-election.” (She later apologized and said she wants Biden run.)
And Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig said: “I would say we need new leaders in Washington up and down the ballot in the Democratic Party.”
It’s not at all clear how much doubts within his own party and polls like this one will influence Biden. His allies will note, for instance, that in the same Marquette poll, Biden leads both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in hypothetical general election matchups. Plus, a clear majority of those surveyed in the poll (69%) also said they don’t want Trump to run for the White House again in 2024.
And it’s possible that the media attention surrounding a Biden campaign announcement – maybe some time next spring – would change Americans’ perceptions about whether he should run again.
But the fact of the moment is that Biden has a perception hill to climb. Most Americans simply do not want him to run for a second term.