President Joe Biden faces a dilemma reminiscent of one faced 43 years ago by his Democratic predecessor, Jimmy Carter.
As Breitbart’s James P. Pinkerton wrote, both are historically weak Democratic incumbents. Carter would go on and succumb in a titanic mismatch with Ronald Reagan while the majority of Biden’s own party wishes he would ride off into the sunset.
Coincidentally, both face a Kennedy on their way to gaining their party’s nomination for a second term. In 1980, it was Edward Kennedy who challenged Carter in the Democratic primaries before ultimately losing.
Today, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. provides the opposition to Biden. He is Teddy’s nephew as well as President John F. Kennedy’s. But it’s more than just his famous name that should have the party worried about their fate in 2024.
Biden’s approval rating continues to be mired ten points underwater. A January NBC News poll showed a staggering 71% of Americans believed the nation is on the wrong track.
Further, four of five thought the country is in a recession or about to enter one. And 56% of respondents had doubts about Biden’s “fitness” to be president.
A USA Today/Suffolk University poll this month revealed more bad news for the incumbent. RFK Jr. already has the support of 14% of those who voted for Biden in 2020, and Biden himself only garnered 67% of those who chose him the first time around.
Kennedy gained support from those who identified as conservatives, younger voters and those without college degrees. He also drew high marks from those who disapproved of Biden’s performance as president and voters who considered the Democrat to be “too liberal.”
Needless to say, RFK Jr.’s candidacy is causing consternation in the Biden White House.
And recent history has not been kind to incumbents who faced a serious challenge for renomination from within their own ranks.
Along with Carter’s blowout defeat to Reagan after being confronted by Teddy Kennedy, George H.W. Bush faced significant opposition from Patrick Buchanan in the 1992 Republican primaries. Both incumbents prevailed only to be defeated in the general election.
Pinkerton noted that Hillary Clinton, though not the sitting president in 2016, occupied a similar position as the chosen one for Democrats that year. But a spirited challenge ensued from Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, and the rest is history.
What's @JoeBiden going to do when @RobertKennedyJr is polling at 20% in June with 25% support among Dem women? If RFK Jr. does not get the Dem nomination he can run as an Independent or endorse @GovRonDeSantis. Biden would be toast. RFK Jr is in the catbird seat & Biden knows it.
— Toby Rogers, Ph.D., M.P.P. (@uTobian) April 23, 2023