It’s hard to question former President Barack Obama’s instincts. Whether you like him or hate him, success is tough to argue with. He made it into the White House as the first black president, didn’t he? That wasn’t by accident.
Obama understands politics and how to play the game. And he’s not unlike many high-level Democrats who are worried that President Joe Biden is just too complacent in his campaigning for re-election, so much so that he’s in danger of losing in November to former President Donald Trump, according to Axios.
Plenty of Democrats, including David Axelrod, Obama’s former political architect, see the race as “winnable but worrisome,” according to Axios. Concern that the Biden campaign is behaving with dangerous calm is swirling. It speaks to a misjudgment of the odds and possible underestimation of the competition.
This concern is the reason Obama was invited to a private lunch meeting by Biden “in recent months” to discuss a more effective way to neutralize Trump. The meeting was first reported Saturday by The Washington Post.
Obama advised Biden to move his political operation and the flow in which critical decision-making occurs “outside of — and beyond — his White House advisers.” This is similar to what Obama did during his re-election campaign in 2012 with his own Chicago-based 2012 team.
“Obama also recommended that Biden seek counsel from Obama’s own former campaign aides, which Biden officials say they have done,” the Post reported.
Trump isn’t Biden’s only issue to contend with. Speculation like the recent prediction made by Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy for J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management, that Biden will drop out of the race due to health reasons sometime after Super Tuesday can damage Biden’s viability in voters’ eyes.
He’s already struggling in the polls. Obama’s urgency to help Biden speaks to the low approval rating his pal continues to pull down. With a 38 percent approval rating and a 58 percent disapproval according to a Washington Post average of 17 polls in November and December, Democrats can hardly expect to win the 2024 election.
They can also assume that Biden’s lack of appeal could hurt other Democrats running in down-ballot races. According to the Post, “some Democrats running on the ticket with Biden are worried. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), who is running for her state’s open Senate seat, has expressed concern to allies that she may not be able to win if Biden is at the top of the ticket, according to people familiar with the conversations.”
Even more concerning to Obama, undoubtedly, are Trump’s numbers in the pivotal swing states, which will be the key to winning the election.
According to a Dec. 14 report by Morning Consult, “In seven swing states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Trump leads Biden, including more than 4 point leads in five of the seven, per Morning Consult tracking polls. Moreover, in four of those states — Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — Biden either led or was virtually tied with Trump in October or November, only to see Trump surge ahead.”
So, Obama clearly sees a path to victory for Trump. It is the reason a change in strategy to move top-level decision-makers on the campaign to Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, was prominent on the list.
Obama is suggesting what he knows to suggest and has worked before … for him anyway. Biden, however, isn’t Obama.
He is not and never has been especially dynamic. His age works against him in a big way, too. According to the Post, “Voters, including a majority of Democrats, say they are particularly concerned about Biden’s age and consistently rank it as a bigger problem for the president, 81, than for Trump, 77.”
Democrats are also concerned with a loss of support from young voters and voters of color over Biden’s support of Israel in the Israel-Gaza war.
Even as Obama shares his wisdom and goes to bat for Biden in fundraising — “already helping to raise $4 million in small-dollar donations for the Biden campaign” according to the Post — the former president can only do so much.
Trump isn’t plagued with age-related concerns nor any evident health problems that detract from his campaigning.
During the lunch meeting, according to the Post, Obama cited “Trump’s intensely loyal following, a Trump-friendly conservative media ecosystem and a polarized country as advantages for the former president in 2024.” Biden’s campaign team has many holes to plug and arguments to perfect before convincing voters that he should be their choice instead of Trump.
According to Axios, Biden’s advisers are relying on what the publication described as “articles of faith”: That the Israel-Hamas war will be history by November; that the economy will have improved significantly for everyday Americans by the time they go to vote; that Biden’s support for abortion favors Democrats; and that anti-Trump advertising will scare enough voters to push Biden over the victory line.
Every one of those points presents its own risk.
Only a fool would bet on short-term peace in the Middle East. The economy has been lousy for three years. Even if the country gets a good few months between now and the fall, too much damage has already been done.
While it’s true that abortion helped Democrats in the midterms, nothing has changed in the abortion landscape since, and the polls show Biden is still weak against Trump. Meanwhile, after more than eight of relentless pounding by the establishment media and the Democratic Party, including two impeachments, it’s unlikely there could be much more negative propaganda released against Trump that Americans haven’t already been exposed to.
They need a more honed strategy.
In other words, either the Biden campaign institutes a more effective structure and becomes more aggressive, in line with Obama’s recommendations, or Democrats dump him for a more winnable name, in line with Cembalest’s predictions.
The third option is, it could be both. I’d bet on that one.
Former first lady Michelle Obama remains a popular figure among her party, and has none of Biden’s age-related weaknesses.
The door could be opening for the former president to be the future first gentleman — and a teaching moment for what was once the Biden campaign team.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.