Race to White House: Rematch not many want, but may be forced to watch

Washington, April 29 (IANS) US President Joe Biden likes to say, quoting his father, “don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative”.
At 80, Biden is already the oldest President in US history and if re-elected, he will be 86 at the end of his second term.
This worries Americans and most of them, including many Democrats, do not want him to run again, according to several opinion polls and surveys.
Biden is running though, as he announced on Tuesday, saying: “The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer… I know what I want the answer to be. This is not a time to be complacent. That’s why I’m running for re-election.”
The President and his campaign team will shortly roll out his first term’s achievements and plans and priorities for the second.
Biden’s main case, however, is likely to be the alternative to him — currently, former President Donald Trump, whose legacy includes two impeachments, efforts to overthrow the people’s will by not accepting the 2020 election verdict and a litany of legal troubles spanning hush money payments to a porn star to allegations of rape to spirting away classified documents while leaving the White House and, yet, efforts to overthrow the 2020 election result.
Trump, who announced his decision to seek a second term way back in November 2022, leads the Republican slate of those seeking the presidential nomination by a wide margin — he leads Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, who is often seen as a more palatable Trump, by just under 30 points in FiveThirtyEight’s weighted average of all polls.
Former Vice President Mike Pence who is widely expected to enter the race at some stage, is a distant third and Nikki Haley, the Indian-American former US ambassador to UN, is even further away in fourth position.
If Trump gets the nomination, which is likely, Biden’s case for comparing him to the alternative would seem like a sound strategy.
For one, at 76, Trump is not so much younger than Biden and that would cancel out the President’s perceived disadvantage on account of age.
Two, if most Americans do not want Biden to seek a second term, they don’t want Trump to run again either, according to a poll published by NBC News before the President’s announcement.
In the survey, 70 per cent said Biden shouldn’t run again and 60 per cent did want to see Trump in the fray again.
Three, the President’s favourability numbers are low 52.7 per cent disapprove of him and 42.7 per cent approve of him. But his predecessor fares worse — 53. 8 per cent view him unfavourably to 42.3 per cent favourable.
Biden has an edge in a head-to-head match with Trump. At least for now.
Biden’s popularity however, could fall further from now till election day in November 2024.
A recession, warned by some experts, later in the year could hit chances, as could a disastrous turn in the Ukraine war, which has become one of his administration’s key foreign issues.
Trump has not hit the bottom of his trouble yet, and things go further south for him as well. He has only one indictment — by a New York court — so far but more could follow, especially in regards to his handling of classified documents from his presidency and for trying to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia.
The US economy will likely be a key election issue. If it improves, further improves, Biden will tout it as a major achievement.
And he may well be able to do that — unemployment is at a 50-year low, inflation remains stubbornly high but under control, banks are not collapsing as feared after the Silicon Valley Bank.
Economy will be an issue if it goes south — a recession has been warned by many experts and companies have been laying off workers in anticipation.
Republicans will raise immigration and border security as many of them have already started by hammering the Biden administration for being soft.
Congressional Republicans released a sweeping immigration bill earlier this month that seeks to tighten asylum, crackdown on employment of undocumented immigrants and detention of families arriving without papers.
But there is still a long way to go.

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