"A landslide": Political analysts and some Democrats now say Biden is bringing down the whole party

The New York Times editorial board warned Biden is putting the "country at risk" by staying in the race

Published July 10, 2024 1:10PM (EDT)

President of the United States Joe Biden delivers remarks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin, United States on July 5, 2024. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images)
President of the United States Joe Biden delivers remarks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin, United States on July 5, 2024. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden and his campaign, struggling to contain the fallout over his disastrous debate performance, have been nailing down Democratic support on Capitol Hill despite calls for him to step aside for a more viable nominee. But those efforts have done little to slow his tumbling poll numbers, which on Tuesday prompted the nonpartisan Cook Political Report to move three swing states — Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada — into the "Lean Republican" column.

While Biden has repeatedly characterized the polls, which overestimated the Democratic nominee's support in 2020, as inaccurate, many Democratic officials have told reporters that they are waiting to see more post-debate surveys and Biden's performance at a Thursday press conference before deciding where they stand on his candidacy. Eight Democratic lawmakers have already made public calls for Biden to withdraw from the race, with others, like Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., raising serious concerns without saying explicitly that he has to go.

“Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House,” Bennet told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Tuesday. “So for me, this isn’t a question about polling. It’s not a question about politics. It’s a moral question about the future of our country.”

“The White House, in the time since that disastrous debate, I think, has done nothing to really demonstrate that they have a plan to win this election,” he continued.

Bennett made his comments just a few hours after House and Senate Democrats discussed Biden's troubled candidacy in their respective caucus meetings, disbanding with plenty of worry but little sense of clarity. One Democrat in the room told reporters that the meeting felt like a "funeral" for Biden, with lawmakers "moving through the stages of grief." Many Democrats privately believe that Biden should withdraw to avert electoral disaster for the party, but the president's stubborn refusal has led them to believe that there is little they can do.

“Whether or not I have concerns is besides the point. He is going to be our nominee and we all have to support him,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the lead Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee who reportedly said in a meeting on Sunday that it was time for Biden to step aside.

Biden still retains public support from lawmakers across both Democratic caucuses, from party stalwarts and longtime supporters like Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., to progressive "Squad" member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

"He is our nominee, he is not leaving this race, he is in this race, and I support him," Ocasio-Cortez told reporters. "Now what I think is critically important right now is that we focus on what it takes to win in November, because he is running against Donald Trump, who is a man with 34 felony convictions, that has committed 34 felony crimes, and not a single Republican has asked for Donald Trump to not be the nominee."

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The Biden campaign has touted the positive response he has received from members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Black voters at campaign stops, even though some pre-debate polls show that he is performing worse with Black voters than any recent Democratic candidate, and that a plurality of Democratic voters, and up to three-quarters of all registered voters, now think Biden should step aside. Biden also trails Trump in most swing state polling averages, including Arizona, Georgia and Nevada—which the Cook Political Report now rates as favoring Trump—as well as the "Blue wall" states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with the latter most at risk of slipping away next, per the report.

Biden, presenting himself as the best candidate to defeat Trump in 2024, has been warning Americans of the dangers that Trump poses to American democracy and the well-being of its citizens. But it is precisely the high stakes of the election that has fueled calls for him to step aside for the good of the country, or for Democratic voters and officials to thwart his reported plans to run out the clock until the Democratic National Convention.

"They need to tell him that his defiance threatens to hand victory to Mr. Trump. They need to tell him that he is embarrassing himself and endangering his legacy. He needs to hear, plain and clear, that he is no longer an effective spokesman for his own priorities," wrote the New York Times Editorial Board in an op-ed published Monday. "The party needs a candidate who can stand up to Mr. Trump. It needs a nominee who can present Americans with a compelling alternative to Mr. Trump’s bleak vision for America."

Potential Democratic replacements, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, have a mixed-to-positive showing in polls that compare their standing to Biden's, but some political analysts have stressed that unlike Biden, his would-be replacements have room to boost their name recognition and energy to bring the case against Trump on the campaign trail. Others are wary that they might not deliver the salvation that some Democrats are hoping for.

Harris "is not a riskier bet than Biden," wrote Cook Political Report's Amy Walter, but "there's no guarantee she'll be a stronger one."

By Nicholas Liu

Nicholas (Nick) Liu is a News Fellow at Salon. He grew up in Hong Kong, earned a B.A. in History at the University of Chicago, and began writing for local publications like the Santa Barbara Independent and Straus News Manhattan.

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