Halfway through the 2022 primary season, multiple Democratic lawmakers and party officials are voicing their frustrations with the struggle of President Biden to advance his core agenda, questioning his ability to safeguard the party from a projected midterm crash and increasingly considering him an anchor that should be let go in 2024.
As the challenges confronting the nation escalate and weary base voters show little enthusiasm, Democrats within union meetings, Capitol Hill back rooms and party rallies from coast to coast are silently worried about the leadership of Mr. Biden, his age, and his ability to handle the challenge of a second fight against former President Donald J. Trump.
Interviews with close to 50 Democratic officials, from county leaders to members of Congress, as well as disillusioned voters who backed Mr. Biden in 2020, reveal a party alarmed by the rise of the Republicans and overwhelmingly pessimistic about an immediate path forward.
Most leading elected Democrats were hesitant to speak publicly about Biden’s future and no one interviewed voiced any ill will toward Biden to whom they remain universally grateful for unseating Trump from office.
But the Biden administration’s continued failures to pass important legislation on Democratic signature issues, as well as his half-hearted efforts to leverage the White House bully pulpit to move public opinion, have left the president with falling approval ratings and a party that, more than anything, seems to feel sorry for him.
For almost all Democrats interviewed, the age of the president, 79 now, 82 by the time the 2024 election winner is inaugurated, is a serious concern regarding his political viability. They have seen a commander-in-chief who has earned a reputation for gaffes routinely shaking up global diplomacy, with unplanned remarks that were subsequently rebuffed by his White House staff, and he has had fewer interviews than any of his recent predecessors.
President Biden has repeatedly stated that he plans to run again in 2024. However, if he does not, the consensus on who would lead the party is limited.
Right now, elected Democrats are wary of openly addressing the future of Biden. Many feel like Jasmine Crockett, a Texas state representative who last month won a primary runoff for a heavily democratic House seat based in Dallas, said, “I’m not allowed to have feelings right now. When you’re an incoming freshman, you just don’t get.”
Many Democratic leaders and voters want Biden to be tougher on Republicans, while others are looking for more compromise. Many are looking to 2024 for an ideal candidate, someone who is neither Biden nor Harris.
And of course, there will be questions about Mr. Biden’s inability to mobilize centrist Democratic senators to support his agenda. With a Republican majority in at least one house of Congress looming next year, Democrats who once held a similar position of short-lived control of the government are concerned that the mistakes of the past will be repeated.
Elizabeth Guzmán, an elected Democrat said, “We wanted to codify Roe v. Wade, and look what happened.”
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