The country is in a sour mood.
Polls show an increasing number of Americans believe things are getting worse. A Harris Poll of voters for the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard last month found that 70 percent believe the country is on the wrong track.
Democrats, Republicans and Independents may not agree on much, but a growing number of voters in each category believes we are headed in the wrong direction. Much of the dissatisfaction is rooted in the economy, where two-thirds of those questioned believe they are financially getting worse.
So, who is best to lead the country out of this funk?
An increasing percentage of voters say it is not Joe Biden. A just-completed New York Times/Siena College Poll gives the president just a 33 percent job approval rating, and the poor numbers are linked to the perception that the country is off track.
“For Mr. Biden, that bleak national outlook has pushed his job approval rating to a perilously low point,” the Times reported. “Republican opposition is predictably overwhelming, but more than two-thirds of Independents also now disapprove of the president’s performance, and nearly half disapprove strongly.”
Democrats have shifted from grumbling to outright hostility toward Biden. The Times/Siena Poll found that just one in four Democratic voters believe he should be re-nominated in 2024.
Biden’s age is becoming a factor. He turns 80 on November 20, which would make him 82 just days after the 2024 election and 86 by the end of his second term, and nobody escapes the impacts of aging. The Harris Poll found that 64 percent of voters believe Biden is “too old to be president.”
What about Donald Trump? If he runs and wins in 2024, he will be 78, one year older than Ronald Reagan when Reagan left office. But if the race is between Trump and Biden in 2024, the age issue will land on Biden and not Trump.
Meanwhile, a growing number of Republicans are starting to distance themselves from Trump. Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan said on Meet the Press last Sunday, “I said Trump’s influence on the party was going to diminish over time. It hasn’t happened rapidly, but it has diminished dramatically.”
The Harris Poll shows Trump is still the favorite of Republicans to win the 2024 nomination, and that same poll shows Trump ahead of Biden 43 percent to 40 percent with 17 percent not sure if the election were held today. The Times/Siena Poll had Biden winning 44 percent to 41 percent
But maybe the better question is why the choice would be between these two?
Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election, his insistence on perpetuating false charges about the election being stolen and his instigation of the January 6th insurrection are all disqualifiers.
As the conservative Washington Examiner newspaper opined recently, “Trump is a disgrace. Republicans have far better options to lead the party in 2024. No one should think otherwise, much less support him, ever again.”
Biden was elected because he was not Trump. The far left had unrealistic expectations about Biden’s ability to lead a New Deal, while more passive supporters just wanted some sense of normalcy. Neither hope has been fulfilled.
Elections are about the future. More Republicans need to wise up about Trump and refuse to participate in a pointless and ugly relitigating of the previous election. Democrats need to have more realistic expectations about what Biden can and cannot do, or thank him for his service and move on.