The White House Biden is doing all it can to quell rumors that he may not seek a second term in 2024.
“Joe Biden is up for re-election, and I’ll be his ticket mate,” Harris told CNN earlier this week. “Complete stop.” (She later revised her remarks to say that Biden “intends” to run.)
So let’s take Biden at his word: he’s in the running for 2024.
Even if we do that, there’s another question at least worth asking: Would Biden face a primary challenge?
“It’s not something I would encourage, but it’s certainly possible,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said earlier this week. “We have seen it in the past.”
Which is interesting to say! Especially when Pritzker was in New Hampshire earlier this month to speak at the New Hampshire Democratic convention.
Now, before we go any further, it’s important to make a distinction here between a serious and credible main challenge for Biden and just someone who decides to show up to propel an issue (or themselves) into the spotlight. national media.
The latter is relatively likely to happen — a kind of narrow candidacy that never really threatens Biden or even gets his attention in any meaningful way.
The former is rarer – despite Pritzker’s comment.
The only time a Democratic president was seriously challenged for his party’s nomination in his re-election bid was in 1980, when Jimmy Carter, the incumbent president, faced a challenge from Massachusetts senator, Ted Kennedy.
Carter won that primary, narrowly, but the damage she inflicted played no small part in her runaway general election loss to Ronald Reagan.
Yes, there are comparisons between Carter and Biden — at least at this point in his presidency. Both men used economic stimuli to reduce the unemployment rate and help revive a flagging economy. And both had to deal with the resulting inflation. Neither man was (or, in Biden’s case, is) terribly popular with the general electorate. And their liberal bases didn’t (and don’t) agree with them.
But there’s a reason it’s been over 40 years since a Democratic president (or, indeed, any president) faced a serious primary challenge: Incumbency is a powerful thing – especially in this age of billion dollar campaigns and relentless politics.
It’s very, very hard to beat an incumbent — even a damaged incumbent like Carter or Biden.
That said, Pritzker poses a unique challenge for Biden should he decide to run. His family owns the Hyatt hotel chain and his estimated net worth is well north of $3 billion. Which means if Pritzker wants to run against Biden in 2024, he won’t lose for lack of funds.
Point: History suggests a serious primary challenge to Biden is unlikely. But not impossible.