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Davis Journal

Democrats may have future candidates we haven’t heard of before

Feb 10, 2022 11:02AM ● By Bryan Gray

A Utah political science professor penned a newspaper column last week warning readers not to put too much stock in polls. Asking people what they think of an elected official, he wrote, is only a brief snapshot in time. Today, they feel one way, but tomorrow their support (or non-support) could abruptly change.

I suppose he has in mind the recent polling focused on President Joe Biden. Publicly, Biden has dismissed the polls, but Democrats are preparing for a Republican landslide in the 2022 congressional elections, and though three years out, the 2024 presidential vote.

The idea that Biden is seemingly unworried about his unpopularity is part of the Democrat Party’s problem.  It reminds me of the man visiting a cancer clinic and thinking he’s in Disneyland.

The professor is correct that events can alter poll numbers.  But Joe Biden’s problems go deeper than issues.  Over a period of time the public internalizes a “painting” of a candidate, and not every brushstroke is related to issues.  In past times President Gerald Ford was seen as a bumbler who fell on an airplane tarmac.  President George H.W. Bush was remembered as an out-of-touch guy who didn’t have a clue about grocery prices.  President Jimmy Carter was a meek leaderless man wrapped in a sweater and asking people to keep their homes cold and save energy.  And President Donald Trump was widely seen as a crude, rude, irascible, loud-mouth rich guy.

After one year in office, Biden is loaded with character flaws.  He is weak, a poor communicator, an old man who stumbles over words.  Instead of standing up to Putin, he stupidly asserts the Russians will invade Ukraine.  Though not his fault, he gets the blame for the ongoing COVID spread, the lack of available, convenient testing, and the pandemic-caused inflation.

Ask the average “man (and woman) on the street” and they are disturbed by his poorly planned pull-out of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the masses pushing at the southern border. At the very best, they’ll say Biden is a “good man,” but he just “isn’t up to the task.”

And that’s why Biden is underwater with independent voters and why affiliated voters cite more alliance to the GOP (45%) compared to the Democrats (42%).  It’s why Biden has the lowest poll numbers of any recent president in his first year (40%).

It’s also why I doubt he can win reelection.  Gas prices will probably come down and the impact of the virus will weaken over time, but he’ll still be saddled with the Afghanistan debacle, the bad look at the border, and his age-related inability to connect verbally with the American people.

If the Democrats have any chance of winning in 2024, they should prepare now for a younger, dynamic candidate not tied to the liberal progressive wing but who can explain a limited role of government in helping families.  That candidate is someone you probably haven’t heard anything about. Few had heard of Bill Clinton (1993) or Barack Obama (2007) either, but they came across as eager fresh-faces.  

Yes, polls can change, but deep-seated public perception has a longer life.