The 2024 election is still two years away, but speculation as to the race's candidates remains as omnipresent as ever. If former President Donald Trump decides to run again, as is expected, America might find itself in the middle of another 2020-like showdown, with President Biden on the other side of the ticket.
But will Biden actually run again? And more importantly — should he? Here's what the experts are saying:
Age is not just a number
One of the primary reasons critics say Biden should consider bowing out of the race is because of his age. He is already 79, and the presidency is a demanding, exhausting job. Is Biden, who has already suffered attacks as to his mental cogency, up for it?
"Frankly, I think it's a real risk," former White House adviser David Gergen recently told CNN. "I just turned 80, and I can just tell you … you lose a step. Your judgment is not quite as clear as it was. There's a variety of other things you can't do much about and to put somebody in that office with those kinds of vulnerabilities and giving them four years, we don't know where things will go." Gergen was not supportive of Trump's possible nomination, either, for the same reason.
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens argued the same of Biden in December: "Do his appearances (including the good ones) inspire strong confidence that the president can go the distance in his current term, to say nothing of the next? No."
A 2024 campaign will likely be much more physically demanding of Biden, as well, considering how the pandemic limited candidates last time. "I'm optimistic that by the summer of 2024 the country is going to be back to 95 percent normality — and [Biden's] going to have to run a vigorous, hard campaign that he didn't in 2020," one national Democratic strategist told Vanity Fair. "He's not going to be able to stay in the basement."
He'd be up against a 'hyper-flawed' opponent
Though Biden's health seems to be on the minds of most — he has also previously said a 2024 candidacy depends on his fitness for office — others have pointed out that he'd have an easier political win running against Trump. "Unless Biden's health becomes a serious issue, it is hard to imagine he will not run," The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin wrote in December. "Even if his poll numbers are down, the potential to run against a hyper-flawed candidate like Trump may well keep him in the race."
There's also the fact that Biden is "pretty broadly acceptable to Democrats, even if they don't necessarily see him as their best hope," writes Aaron Blake in a separate analysis on the matter for the Post.
But what about the polls?
There's no denying that the American public is skeptical of whether a Biden term #2 would or should happen — in March, for example, a Wall Street Journal poll found that 52 percent of Americans don't think Biden will run for re-election. And when counting Democratic-leaning independents, an NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll found 44 percent of Democratic voters actually believe the party would fare better with someone else, the Post reports.
But the polls could be misleading
"It's a reality of political polling that the grass is greener on the other side," the Post's Aaron Blake wrote in an analysis of the issue. Anyone responding to a question regarding Biden's candidacy is answering hypothetically, without an actual alternative against which to measure him. And further, "it's also quite possible that many Democrats assumed Biden was a one-term proposition in the first place, given his age."
Maybe he could get more done
The country, as well as the president himself, would benefit if Biden decides against re-election and announces his decision in a timely fashion, Stephens argued in his column for the Times. "Far from weakening him," lame-duck status would "instantly allow [Biden] to be statesmanlike. And it would be liberating," Stephens wrote. The media speculation would end, Democrats would be reinvigorated, and the president would be free to "devote himself wholly to addressing the country's immediate problems without worrying about re-election."