Young voters flee Biden — but who is the alternative? | The Hill
Category: News & PoliticsVia: texan1211 • 3 weeks ago • 7 comments
By: Joe Concha, Opinion Contributor (The Hill)
by Joe Concha, Opinion Contributor - 07/17/22 11:00 AM ET The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill
A New York Times poll making waves in the swamp this week shows President Biden polling at 33 percent nationally, marking the lowest approval rating of any first-term president since Harry S. Truman.
But when peeling off the layers of this onion, the numbers get even more pungent. Nearly two-thirds of Democratic voters don't want Biden to seek a second term. Most think Biden, who would be well into his 80s at the end of a second term, is just too old.
The 46th president's age seems to have caught up with him, and that's a growing concern to his advisers.
"Some aides quietly watch out for him," reads a recent Times story. "He often shuffles when he walks, and aides worry he will trip on a wire. He stumbles over words during public events, and they hold their breath to see if he makes it to the end without a gaffe."
The U.S. has become a gerontocracy, a society governed by old people. Biden will be 80 years old in November. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is 82. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is 83. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is 80. And get this: If an age limit of 70 years were applied to Congress, an eye-popping 71 percent of lawmakers would be forced to retire.
The 2020 presidential election was an extremely close contest in the all-important Electoral College. If Georgia, decided by roughly 12,000 votes; Arizona, decided by about 10,000 votes; and Wisconsin, decided by fewer than 21,000 votes, had gone the other way, we would have had Trump the sequel since Republicans controlled a majority of state delegations, which serve as a tiebreaker.
Young voters played a crucial role in pushing Biden over the top in those states, along with other thin margins in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Young voters supported Biden over Trump 58-38 in 2020. No age group favored Biden more, per an analysis from the non-partisan Pew Research Center. The 20-point margin was likely decisive to Biden's victory.
But in 2022, voters under the age of 30 have almost completely abandoned the president. According to the Times poll released last Sunday, 94 percent of voters 18-29 do not want Biden to run again in 2024. You read that correctly. 94 percent.
"The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue," said former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod recently.
"I have just turned 80 and I have found over the last two or three years I think it would have been unwise for me to try to run any organization," Republican strategist David Gergen recently shared with the Times. "You're not quite as sharp as you once were."
So, with many Democrats, and particularly Millennials, wanting to move on from Biden, who exactly could be an alternative? Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton? Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.)? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)? Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)?
History suggests it's too early to tell. Per the Washington Post in April 2014:
"In a hypothetical matchup, Clinton leads former Florida governor Jeb Bush — seen by many GOP establishment figures as the party's strongest general-election candidate — 53 percent to 41 percent."
Jeb would go on to get trounced by a candidate not mentioned in the 2014 Post piece, which included 11 others including everyone from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to former Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.): Donald Trump.
And recall the coronation-headlines of Hillary Clinton from 2005 regarding her supposedly certain 2008 party nomination.
You may recall that Clinton's likeliest opponent at the time was seen by many to be former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Of course, Barack Obama bested Clinton for the nomination and went on to win the presidency at age 47. Rudy's campaign lasted only a few months.
The lesson? It's difficult to predict more than two years out who will capture either party's nomination.
But one thing is looking increasingly clear: Joe Biden is in serious, serious trouble. Age is issue, but his performance on everything from the economy to crime is quite another. If things were going well on these key issues, Biden's age might be forgiven. But they're not.
Time is not on Biden's side. But time is the one thing Democrats have. The question is whether a viable alternative to Biden will emerge in the next two years. Only time will tell.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.