It makes a striking headline: Nearly half of Democrats do not want Joe Biden to run for re-election.
This is according to a new NPR / “NewsHour” / Marist poll, which includes democratically-oriented independents in these figures. The dismal numbers: 44% say the party wants a better chance of keeping the White House without Biden, 36% say the president gives them the best chance, and 20% are unsure.
After Tuesday’s election day, it is a sober signal for a person in power who has progressed in the investigations.
The same poll shows that Donald Trump’s grip on his party is loosening up a lot.
Exactly half of Republicans and GOP supporters say Trump has the best chance of winning the White House back. Another 35% want another and 14% are unsure.
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Given that President Trump ordered almost total loyalty from his party, this suggests that the love affair has cooled down a bit, or that some Republicans want a forward-thinking messenger instead of someone fighting past battles.
Now, of course, such an opinion poll tells us nothing about what the political climate will be like in three years. Biden turns 82, and Trump 78. The president may have returned from his stony start or be widely regarded as a caretaker. The former president may have revived his magic with his base or be seen as a figure from the past. Other rivals may have emerged in both parties, though Trump in particular appears to have frozen the field. If Republicans control Congress, voters may or may not want to give one party total control again.
But it is actually the least significant part of the NPR / PBS study.
What is really worrying is the lack of confidence in the electoral process. It’s hardly a shocking revelation in light of Trump’s continued and undocumented attacks on the 2020 results and voting restrictions imposed in several red states. But the numbers are still striking.
The top line – 62% of respondents say they will trust the results of the 2024 election, even if their favorite candidate loses – does not sound so bad, at least until you drill down a bit.
While 82% of Democrats have that confidence, only a third of Republicans say they do. It is a devastating snapshot of the party divide in America.
So if Biden or another Democrat wins in three years, will two-thirds of those who identify with the Republican Party believe he is an illegitimate winner? Can this cycle ever be broken?
Perhaps the question has become a proxy for how people feel about Trump, who every day condemns the last “rigged” election and fights for it himself with the Wall Street Journal’s conservative leadership side.
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So while 62% of Americans believe that Trump mistakenly calls the election stolen because he “does not like the result,” 75% of Republicans polled say he has a legitimate claim that there were “real cases of fraud,” that changed the results. “
So much for all lawsuits and investigations, including by Trump’s own Justice Department.
Look, those are the beliefs they have, and at this point, no one – and certainly not the media establishment they despise – is going to change their mind.
Does it all come now from Trump and 2020 – not to mention 2016, where some Democrats and experts insisted he was illegitimate because of Russian interference? (In fact, Trump insisted that there was also fraud in 2016 – a campaign he won – and otherwise he would have carried the Electoral College too.) If that were the case, it would mean we could move on from this sea of mistrust, when Trump has entered the political scene. Or not.
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One last depressing note: The overwhelming majority in this poll say there is a “serious threat” to American democracy. Where does that threat come from? Here’s the breakdown: 42% say Democrats, 41% say Republicans, and – a cup in both of your houses – 8% say both.
May I suggest that the greatest threat is all the mutual anger and suspicion that is consuming our country?