Nate Silver fronts that Democrats ARE worried about Harris AS Vice President being that Jor Biden IS 80 years old RIGHT NOW and would be 86 if he gains a second term as President….
Biden has probably been fortunate to avoid a more serious primary challenge. Polls throughout 2022 found that a majority of Democrats didn’t want him to run again. Now, you can’t take those polls at face value, since preferring “someone else” is a grass-is-greener answer that’s different than settling upon one particular alternative. Still, there are a lot of ambitious politicians in the Democratic Party who might have taken their chances on being “generic Democrat who isn’t 80 years old” — and none of them did. California Governor Gavin Newsom came the closest, running a kind of quasi-campaign against Ron DeSantis. But Newsom has a lot of liabilities as a candidate and never gained traction — and then Democrats’ relatively good midterm made the party’s voters and elites a bit less nervous about Biden’s re-election prospects.
Leaving aside the question about whether a VP has ever been more popular than their president, it’s remarkable how little enthusiasm there is about the prospect of a Harris candidacy or presidency. I’m not particularly well-connected among Democratic Party establishment types — it’s just not my crowd. But between the conversations I have had with people in those circles and my “normie D” friends, I don’t think I ever heard a single person advocate that Biden should settle for one term and let Harris run instead. Hell, even in her column that did advocate for Biden to step down, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg — who I find to be a consistently thoughtful reader of progressive sentiment — conspicuously mentioned that the alternative didn’t have to be Harris, citing Harris’s poor polling.
How much is the perception that Harris would be an electoral liability grounded in reality? One always has to be concerned that perceptions of “electability” can be skewed against women candidates, an idea that was probably reinforced among Democrats by Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016.
Still, Harris fares meaningfully worse against Trump than Biden does in polls. Here is a compilation of every poll since last year’s midterm where the pollster asked about both the Harris-Trump matchup and the Biden-Trump matchup…
However, Harris has run for president before and it didn’t go well — it didn’t go well at all. Considered one of the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination when she launched her campaign in January 2019, Harris wound up dropping out of the race in December, well before the Iowa caucuses. It was in the Scott Walker/Jeb Bush/Phil Gramm/Ed Muskie/Rick Perry tier of epic primary season flameouts.
I know some people are going to be annoyed by this and say the vice presidency shouldn’t be a popularity contest. But, well, elections are popularity contests. And vice presidents quite often become candidates for president themselves. That was particularly likely to be the case for Biden’s running mate, given that he’d be 78 at inauguration and would be in his 80s during a potential reelection bid. To have chosen a running mate who was a demonstrated electoral underperformer was a big risk for Biden and Democrats. It’s one that has considerably limited their options this year and which could haunt them if Biden has age-related health problems or stumbles….