- Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The most recent nationwide poll on the 2024 presidential election puts the race at a near-dead heat. Former President Donald Trump leads President Biden 45% to 44%, the Emerson College survey released Friday found.

But another new poll shows that Democrats win — and win going away — if they dump Mr. Biden and replace him on the ticket.

Analysis by former Conservative deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft shared with The Daily Mail on Sunday puts the two tied at 40%. “But when the voters are offered a choice between Trump, 77, the frontrunner to be his Republican challenger and ’a Democrat other than Joe Biden,’ the notional candidate leads by six points,” the Mail reported.

Without Mr. Trump on the ballot? “Biden would beat Nikki Haley, Mr. Trump’s last-remaining rival for the Republican nomination, by 11 points,” the analysis of 10,000 voters found.

Politico, the left-wing, inside-the-Beltway political blog launched by two former Washington Post reporters, summed up Mr. Biden’s situation in one sentence last week: “It’s to the point now that concerns about his candidacy cannot be written off as Democratic ’bedwetting.’”

The website tapped Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, for a friendly quote but got a barbed one instead.

“What Biden can do is take concerns about his age seriously, acknowledge that fears about his performance aren’t media creations or Democratic bedwetting, and focus single-mindedly on crisp, strong, energetic appearances, which we’ve seen he’s absolutely capable of,” he said.

Well, not so much of late. And Democrats’ eyebrows shot up across the country when the whole thing was codified in eight words by special counsel Robert Hur after investigating Mr. Biden’s careless (and perhaps deceitful) handling of classified documents. 

Mr. Biden is a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” he concluded.

Let’s pause here for a second. Mr. Biden is 81 years old. It’s not surprising in the least that he has lost half a dozen steps from his heady days as a windbag in the Senate. 

But Mr. Biden “energetic appearances” are few and far between as the president’s handlers spend their days keeping him away from the cameras and those pesky reporters always shouting questions at him. It’s gotten so bad that Mr. Biden now uses the short stairs on Air Force One (having fallen repeatedly on the regular stairs).

The New York Times is also bailing on Mr. Biden, drawing concern among the party faithful. In a sympathetic essay by writer Ezra Klein, even he had to acknowledge facts.

“I cannot point you to a moment where Biden faltered in his presidency because his age had slowed him. But here’s the thing. I can now point you to moments when he is faltering in his campaign for the presidency because his age is slowing him. This distinction between the job of the presidency and the job of running for the presidency keeps getting muddied, including by Biden himself,” he wrote.

Mr. Klein pointed out that Mr. Biden has done fewer interviews than any recent president: By this point in their terms, Mr. Obama had given more than 400 interviews, Mr. Trump more than 300. Mr. Biden has done under 100. 

“And a bunch of them are softball interviews — he’ll go on Conan O’Brien’s podcast, or Jay Shetty’s mindfulness podcast,” Mr. Klein wrote. “The Biden team says this is a strategy, that they need apolitical voters, the ones who are not listening to political media. But one, this strategy isn’t working — Biden is down, not up. And two, no one really buys this argument.”

Mr. Klein brings it home hard: “I don’t buy this argument. This isn’t a strategy chosen from a full universe of options. This is a strategic adaptation to Biden’s perceived limits as a candidate. And what’s worse, it may be a wise one.”

“I think Biden, as painful as this is, should find his way to stepping down as a hero. That the party should help him find his way to that, to being the thing he said he would be in 2020, the bridge to the next generation of Democrats. And then I think Democrats should meet in August at the convention to do what political parties have done there before: organize victory,” he wrote.

And that’s from a friendly New York Times reporter. That means the real situation is far, far worse.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on X @josephcurl.

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