The announcement of Joe Biden’s candidacy for a second term as president of the United States in 2024 is getting a lot of attention. Fueled by a majority of voters who believe the country is not on the right track, recent polls show the incumbent president is vulnerable, with an approval rating hovering around 40%.
Moreover, Americans are really not thrilled about a repeat of the 2020 duel between Biden and Donald Trump. Despite his numerous legal tangles, Trump continues to dominate Republican support, so the possibility of a second round is very real.
Among Democrats, a majority would prefer a standard-bearer other than Biden for the next presidential campaign. His running mate will again be Vice President Kamala Harris, who is unlikely to be popular with voters.
At the moment, Biden’s chances appear to hinge on certain key issues, such as the state of the economy, the impact of his record, his age and his ability to impose the ballot box issue in 2024.
The Economic Situation
The famous quote by James Carville, one of Bill Clinton’s advisers during his 1992 presidential campaign, is called to mind: “It’s the economy, stupid!” As was the case 32 years before, the economic issue will certainly dominate political debates in 2024.
Some numbers don’t look so bad for Biden. More than 12 million jobs have been created during his term, which is a record, and the unemployment rate is currently an enviable 3.5%.
However, these elements are paired with the highest inflation in 40 years, alongside a significant rise in interest rates.
Added to these are the failures of banks like Silicon Valley and First Republic. Then, there is the prospect of a recession that still looms large. All these elements overshadow the positive points above and cause concern and uncertainty among voters.
The current debate in Congress over the debt ceiling does nothing to inspire confidence. A majority of Americans disapprove of the Biden administration’s handling of the economy. To turn this around, the president needs to broaden the debate.
Promote Biden’s Record
Many observers note that Biden has significant economic, environmental and social accomplishments to his name. However, these remain largely unknown. Since the start of his term, the infrastructure, technology and manufacturing sectors have benefited from major investment and bipartisan legislation. A number of announcements regarding these matters can already be foreseen in the coming months.
The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, chaotic under the Trump administration, was much more effective under Biden.
In addition, Biden’s leadership on the alliance in support of Ukraine in the war initiated by Russia has demonstrated that the U.S. has reclaimed its global leadership role.
Nevertheless, the highly polarized political climate does nothing to help raise awareness of the impact of the Biden administration’s gains in key areas, which is vital for the incumbent if he wishes to effectively counter his opponents’ attacks.
The President’s Age, a Delicate Issue Much in the News
Since he will turn 82 the day after the 2024 election, the oldest president in American history could see his age become a major electoral issue.
Biden is aware from the start that he will be scrutinized in this regard at every public appearance. During the recent White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, the president smartly chose to use humor to address this concern. His health status is solid, and, during interviews and public appearances, he shows a firm grasp of the complexity of the matters he oversees.
Still, in 2024, Biden will not be able to count on a virtual campaign from home as he did in 2020 because of the pandemic. It remains to be seen, then, if he will be up to the rigors an election campaign will present.
Of course, if Trump, who turns 78 in November 2024, is Biden’s opponent, the question of age will be less central.
Impose the Ballot Box Issue
During his announcement, Biden stressed that he wanted to finish the job he began during his first term to ensure prosperity, equity and real consideration of environmental issues.
Biden touches on his concerns for the state of democracy, restrictions to abortion access and the need for better gun control. These issues greatly influenced mobilization and getting people to the polls during the midterms.
In 2024, Biden will need to articulate his vision for the future to make it a voting issue. While taking on this challenge, he will also have to concern himself with control of Congress, which will be essential for effective governance during the next term.
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