In a previous commentary, I shared my reasons for my prediction that Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2024. In this commentary, I will share my reasons for my prediction that Joe Biden will not be the Democrat nominee for president in 2024. My reasoning on the Biden prediction is based largely on a review of the 1968 Presidential election.
In 1968 Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) was the incumbent Democrat president. Prior to serving as president, LBJ was a U.S. Senator and ran for the 1960 Democrat presidential nomination in a field of seven candidates. He lost to John F. Kennedy, who then selected LBJ as his running mate. After Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson automatically succeeded him. In 1964, LBJ ran for re-election and branded his Republican opponent – Barry Goldwater — as a radical unhinged ultra conservative who was not fit to serve as president. Johnson won in a landslide. LBJ then immediately and aggressively pursued a very liberal public policy agenda – “The Great Society.” Implementing that policy resulted in inflation, budget deficits, economic turmoil, and civil strife that included rioting in many urban areas. On the foreign policy front, Johnson oversaw a huge buildup of American involvement in the Vietnam war that resulted in heightened tension between America, the Soviet Union, and China.
The parallels to this history recap of 1968 and 2024 are striking. Biden served in the United States Senate and lost to Barack Obama in a bid for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination. Obama in turn selected Biden as his running mate. Biden served in that role for all eight years of the Obama presidency. In 2020, Biden was nominated by the Democrats for president. Like LBJ, the Biden campaign launched a campaign branding Donald Trump as an unhinged, hot tempered, boorish, loose cannon who was not fit to be President. The media also dutifully advanced a false narrative that Biden would govern as an even tempered and bipartisan moderate. He has not done so. From day one in the Oval Office, Biden has aggressively and unapologetically pursued a robust progressive agenda on domestic affairs. I predict he will not pivot to the center going forward. He simply cannot risk incurring the wrath of the progressive wing of the Democrat Party, plus, at his core, he is and always has been a progressive.
While I have no doubt Biden’s support with the progressive wing of the Democrat Party is deep and solid, I predict his governing record will result in a measurable drop in support from conservative and moderate Democrats who vote in primaries.
Just as in 1964, the top campaign issues in 2024 are likely to be the economy and public safety, with world peace, a third.
I predict Biden’s record, particularly on domestic issues, will lead to the same result in 2024 as Lyndon Johnson’s failure to secure the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968. That is not Republican wishful thinking. The American electorate is shifting.
Results from recent Gallup polling indicate the American electorate is becoming more conservative. Thirty-eight percent of poll respondents said say they are conservative on social issues, up from thirty three percent last year. Forty four percent say they are economically conservative, the highest level since 2012. Voters saying their social views are very liberal or liberal has dipped to twenty nine percent from thirty four percent in each of the past two years, while the portion identifying as moderate (thirty one percent) remains near a third.
Gallup reports further there have been double-digit increases in conservative social ideology among middle-aged adults — those between the ages of 30 and 64. At the same time, older Americans’ ideology on social issues has been stable, while there has been a modest increase in conservative social ideology among young adults.
That reality is also occurring in deep blue Maryland albeit it to a lesser degree.
A recent statewide Gonzales poll indicated that fifty two percent of respondents approved of the job Biden is doing; a six -point drop from January polling results That drop was driven by a nine point drop in support among unaffiliated voters.
A pivot by Biden to a more moderate governing style before the 2024 elections will not happen. A pivot will alienate the progressive wing of the Democrat Party, which is a crucial element of Democrat Party support, especially in primaries. Secondly, moderate and conservative Democrats who vote in primaries will view a pivot to the center as too little, too late.
The recent actions of Biden to reach a compromise on a debt ceiling limit with House Republicans does not foretell more bipartisanship by Biden going forward. This one-off occurrence was the result of grudging acceptance by key decision makers in Washington that failure to enact a debt ceiling limit increase would have resulted in a catastrophic impact on the American and world economy. It is telling that immediately following signing of the debt ceiling limit bill, Biden resumed his take-no-prisoners approach to advancing a progressive agenda.
Last, but certainly not least, is another significant obstacle on Biden’s quest for the 2024 nomination is a replay of events from 1968. In the 1968 New Hampshire Democratic primary, Eugene McCarthy captured a stunning forty two percent of the Democrat primary vote while LBJ got forty eight percent. Soon thereafter, Johnson announced he would no longer pursue, nor would he accept the Democratic presidential nomination.
Earlier this year, Robert F Kennedy Jr. son of Robert F Kennedy, announced that he will challenge Biden in the 2024 New Hampshire primary. The Democrat Party leadership is so concerned about this challenge they changed their primary calendar so that New Hampshire’s long held position as the first in the nation primary will now follow South Carolina. This is telling as South Carolina played a critical role in rescuing a floundering Biden primary run in 2020. Troubling news for Biden is polling reports of polling in New Hampshire showing RFK Jr. getting nineteen percent of the vote. More troublesome for Biden is speculation that his name may not even appear on the New Hampshire Democratic primary ballot so he could lose there by default. Most troublesome for Biden is the fact that three times in recent history, incumbent presidential candidates who survived serious challenges in the primaries leading up to the general election, ended up losing the general election.
The bottom line is Democrat party power brokers understand and embrace the timeless wisdom of George Santayana – “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
They may not say it publicly yet, but I am sure they are learning from history. As a result, I predict individually and collectively they are concluding that Joe Biden is unelectable in 2024. Accordingly, they will do whatever they deem necessary to ensure Biden is not their presidential standard bearer in 2024. You can bet on it.
David Reel is a public affairs/public relations consultant who serves as a trusted advisor on strategy, advocacy, and media matters who resides in Easton.