The Window for Replacing Biden Is Rapidly Closing

Joe and Jill Biden after his virtual nomination in 2020.
Photo: Bloomberg Television/YouTube

Democratic leaders are facing a short timeframe for deciding what, if anything, to do about their presumptive presidential nominee, President Joe Biden. There are currently no signs that the president himself or his immediate circle of family, friends, and advisers see any reason to reconsider his reelection-campaign plans. They uniformly view his alarmingly poor debate performance on June 27 as a “bad night” that doesn’t change the dynamics of the contest with Donald Trump, and they are increasingly prone to lashing out at the many Democrats who are whispering loudly (if anonymously) about a plan B, not to mention a punditocracy that is all but demanding that the president “step aside.”

Biden loyalists are so far succeeding in their effort to keep a lid on any Democratic revolt. Tribal loyalty and personal affection aside, the reason is pretty simple: While many Democrats fear the worst about the impact of the Atlanta debate and its effect on already-strong sentiment that the president is simply too old, there really isn’t much data to support the supposition that the presidential race has changed. As the New York Times explains, it may be a while before we really know:

Not enough polls with a strong history of accuracy and use of the highest-quality surveying methods have been released thus far to provide a clear picture of the post-debate national mood.

Most of the polls released so far are what are known as opt-in online polls, which have a less established track record for historical accuracy. The New York Times polling average, which includes all polls but gives more weight to higher-quality polls, indicates a slight dip in President Biden’s numbers since the debate …

It also takes time to conduct high-quality polls, usually four or five days at a minimum. It takes time to reach people, particularly key groups that are difficult to reach, like younger voters, or Hispanic voters without college degrees. Pollsters often need to attempt to contact respondents multiple times.

When all this is taken together, it means it will be about a week — or more — before a clearer picture comes into focus about how the debate played out for the American public.

If it turns out the underlying dynamics of the Biden-Trump race are too powerful to be moved much by the debate, then the long-standing Biden campaign dictum that “old beats crazy” could still stand. In that case, Democrats would be foolish to publicly dispute the right of a sitting president who overwhelmingly won the 2024 primaries to wage the general-election battle to the finish. So as Politico Playbook explained, Democratic elected officials are on hold:

House leaders were telling their “terrified” members to wait for numbers to confirm that their fears were justified, with senior Dems, including Rep. JAMES CLYBURN (D-S.C.), working to calm them down and wait for the polling. That remains where things in Congress stand this morning …

The former senior Biden administration official said that a serious effort to nudge Biden aside “will only happen when two things occur: bad polling and Hakeem and Schumer tell him Congress is lost.”

“It’s all going to depend on the data,” said a third House Democrat. “Everybody can have all their opinions. But what happens if the numbers are still the same?”

If “the numbers are still the same” once adequate polling is available, then it’s very likely the Great Democratic Freakout of 2024 will come to an end quickly with partisans uniting behind Biden and grimly preparing for the turnout-and-persuasion battle with Trump they had all anticipated. But if the numbers really have shifted, there will be an extremely small window of opportunity to engineer a plan B, particularly if replacing Biden requires his active cooperation.

That window was significantly narrowed before the debate debacle when Democrats began planning a pre-convention “virtual roll call” (like the one deployed in 2020 owing to COVID-19 concerns). While the formal nomination usually takes places on the third night of the Democratic National Convention, in this case August 21, the plan is to rubber-stamp Biden’s renomination in order to meet an August 7 deadline for getting on the Ohio ballot (a new state law requires candidates to be certified as nominees 65 days before the general election). Now there’s talk of holding that virtual roll call a full month before the DNC, as Bloomberg reports:

A potential date for Biden’s nomination is July 21, when the Democratic convention’s credentials committee meets virtually, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity …

The move to virtually nominate Biden before the convention ensures that Biden is on state ballots, but the timing is fortuitous. It allows the party to further coalesce around their nominee even as insiders call for him to step aside for a new candidate after his rocky June 27 debate performance.

Obviously fearful Democrats suspect the DNC is trying to manipulate the calendar to protect their endangered leader. But it’s unclear whether party leaders’ decisions can be challenged without the kind of frontal assault on Biden that no one really wants.

Let’s say the July 21 date for nominating a Democratic presidential candidate sticks and we don’t get polling on the full impact of the Atlanta debate until some point after the Independence Day weekend. That would leave only a few days for the president, the vice-president, party leaders, elected officials, and 3,933 Democratic convention delegates to get their act together and make a display of unity to the country. This nomination ritual will occur immediately after the July 15–18 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, which will be a raucous celebration of Trump’s vengeful comeback campaign. An early nomination would also lock in Biden as the candidate even if he subsequently trails Trump badly. The DNC has the power to fill a vacancy at the top of the ticket but does not have the power to create one.

The shortened timetable makes the fantasy of an “open convention” where various Democrats compete to be the new nominee even more ludicrous than it already was. There may be just enough of a window for Biden to bow out and designate a successor that the party can unite around, almost certainly Kamala Harris. But if the president wants to hold on despite all the misgivings roiling his party, the institutional inertia of the national party and its plans for his coronation are definitely on his side.

See All

Source link

Related Articles

Do you run a company that want to build a new website and are looking for a web agency in Sweden that can do the job? At Partna you can get connected to experienced web agencies that are interested in helping you with your website development. Partna is an online service where you simply post your web development needs in order to get business offers from skilled web agencies in Sweden. Instead of reaching out to hundreds of agencies by yourself, let up to 5 web agencies come to you via Partna.
Back to top button