President Biden officially announced his candidacy for a second term on Tuesday, to mild enthusiasm and significant criticism from the public.
In terms of his overarching theme, rather than focusing on addressing economic issues or highlighting ways to extract the United States from involvement in Ukraine like many Americans want, he focused on anti-Trump sentiment and abortion.
In a 3-minute video announcing his run, Biden’s team used images from the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol and included footage of protests after the Supreme Court decision to return abortion decisions to the states. In the video, he stated that the question facing the nation is, “whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom.” An odd statement coming from one of the most-anti-freedom and anti-free speech presidents in recent history.
In voiceover against images of Trump supporters and footage of scarcely-seen Vice President Kamala Harris ambling around the White House with him, Biden warned “you know, around the country MAGA extremists are lining up to take those bedrock freedoms back.”
It appears that the Biden camp has arrived at a consensus as to the central themes for his reelection campaign: defending democracy from “MAGA extremists” and abortion. One can only conclude the Biden campaign staff simply refused to read literally any modern public opinion poll, because if they had they would have chosen to focus on an economic recovery plan instead of a political protest two years ago.
Polling consistently shows the top issues on voters’ minds for the last year have been jobs and the economy, inflation, and healthcare. Nowhere even on the map are the January 6th protest or federally guaranteed abortion. In fact, the most recent YouGov poll shows abortion and civil rights are the top issues to just five percent of Americans.
Missing entirely from the video was any semblance of an economic recovery plan, but instead claims that “MAGA extremists” intend to cut social security and “cut taxes for the wealthy”. These yawn-worthy talking points may as well have been unearthed from a time capsule of the Democratic playbook in 2012.
On Biden’s official YouTube channel, the comments beneath his reelection video were less than enthusiastic. One user noted that the 3-minute clip was “the most times” he’d seen Kamala Harris ever, while another commentator remarked dryly that it was, “nice that he was able to have every single person that ever showed up at one of his rallies all fit into a 3-minute video”.
Another commentator stated, “Biden’s voice has to be AI generated, I never heard him talk this clearly”, while another said, “I’m not sure what job you want to finish but what ever it is PLEASE DON’T, you’ve done quite enough already.” There did not appear to be many supporters, at least in the comments. In fact, one user remarked, “I can’t believe they allowed comments”, followed by a laugh-crying emoji.
Biden’s announcement that he will seek reelection comes at a time when many in his own party, as well as an increasing share of swing voters, want a new candidate.
His approval rating now hovers in the low 40’s – a place occupied by former presidents who have lost their reelection bids. According to FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s average approval rating is at 43%, while his disapproval rating has climbed to 52%.
As we pointed out last week, nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) would be ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘angry’ if Biden were to run again, while just 7% said they’d be excited according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Even among his own party, less than a third of Democrats and leaners (31%) think Biden should be nominated for the party pick in 2024, while 58% say he shouldn’t.
While apathy and dissatisfaction with Biden as a candidate is nothing new, it appears his handlers have learned very little over the past two years about where the public’s attention is focused. Americans consistently give the Biden Administration rock-bottom approval ratings on issues such as the state of the economy, inflation, home prices, and U.S. ensnarement in foreign conflicts, issues the Biden camp has thus far conveniently neglected to address in his reelection campaign.
Despite being 80 years old, Biden is expected to receive the Democratic nomination without serious challenge, as rank-and-file Democratic voters have already begun to rally around him. While his age has given Democrats pause, his experience as the former vice president and longtime Delaware senator is seen as an asset to his campaign.
Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.