There’s no real alternative to Biden or Harris for Democrats in 2024

The year was 1946 and things weren’t going so well for President Harry Truman. His party got beaten so badly in the midterm that his fellow Democrats were even floating that he should resign, not just not run in 1948. Truman resisted those calls and was elected President in 1948. In 1979, President Carter faced criticism from within his own party and also managed to at least beat back a primary challenge in 1980 from Ted Kennedy. Presidents Clinton and Obama faced critiques from within their own party after midterm beatings. Basically, Presidents don’t lose re-nomination in the Democratic Party.

If Joe Biden wants to run again in 2024, he’ll be the Democratic nominee for President. There is no one in the Democratic Party with the standing, fundraising prowess, broad support within most wings of the party, and pathway to the nomination. Yes, President Biden has definitely seen some slippage in the polls, even within his party. No, he’s not beatable in any sane campaign. The scorched earth campaign anyone who beat him for the nomination would have to run would be utterly divisive and disqualifying in a general election. A serious primary challenge, from literally anyone you would like to mention here, would leave the party unelectable and in ruins. The Republicans would use the attacks and wreckage to damage that person out of the gate.

None of this means President Biden should or should not run in 2024. He’ll be 82 years old. His polling numbers are objectively awful right now. He could recover, as Presidents Clinton and Obama did (or not, as Carter). There’s a decent chance that in early 2024 Covid is well in the rear view, interest rate hikes halted inflation, and job creation is booming- in which case Biden will be putting the GOP to bed with a beating in November. He also could get lucky and get to run against someone weak like Ron DeSantis. There’s at least a decent argument that he’s politically damaged though, or that his age is such that he should consider retiring. But we just don’t know about any of that in the Summer of 2022.

For the sake of the nonsensical though, let’s entertain the idea that he doesn’t run. If there is a vacancy to be filled on the ticket, I’d there a realistic world where Kamala Harris isn’t the Democratic nominee? My answer is that it is unlikely. What damage would the Democratic Party do to it’s most faithful voting block, Black women, to deny the first Black woman to serve as Vice-President the nomination to succeed her boss? I won’t totally deny the possibility of another candidate that may be popular with Black voters (aka- Senators Booker and Warnock, maybe Mayor Adams, or even *gasp* Hillary again) being able to win the nomination and credibly unite the party against Trump or a similar GOP nominee, particularly with the VP’s polling numbers looking rough. Again though, which of the names I just mentioned is likely to try it or do it credibly? Every Democratic Vice-President from Truman forward has ascended to the Democratic Presidential nomination. Now we’re going to entertain denying it to her in favor of what would likely be a white candidate such as Warren (lol), Sanders (for real?), or Buttigieg (who to his credit is doing everything right to be nominee, someday) that is far less popular with Black voters right now? Even if everyone made up afterwards and said the right stuff, a very small drop in raw Black voter turnout or in the percentage of said voters voting Democratic would be enough to destroy Joe’s entire margin of victory from 2020. Vice-President Harris is almost as likely as President Biden to win a 2024 primary fight to begin with, and the train wreck necessary to stop her might even be more damaging than a primary challenge to the President.

The only two times a sitting Democratic President faced a credible primary challenge in the last century were 1968 and 1980. Both times, Democrats lost the general election. Both of those elections contributed to the fall of the party as the dominant political party in this country post-1994. Running a primary against Joe Biden would be a stupid and likely fruitless fool’s errand. Running a primary against Kamala Harris could do generational damage to the party. I’d certainly never say absolutely never, but I personally have almost no appetite for this talk.