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J.D. FOSTER: If Dems Ditch Old Joe, Who Would They Replace Him With?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

By J.D. Foster, The Daily Caller News Foundation | March 16, 2024

Joe Biden and Donald Trump have clinched the delegates to claim their parties’ nominations. The rematch menu appears set. Or is it? Short of a personal calamity, Trump will be on the ballot, but the powers who run the Democratic Party might just intervene to preserve a chance for the White House, while preventing a down-ballot disaster.

Imagine it’s only a couple weeks before the August Democratic Convention and Biden consistently trails Trump in the polls. Democrats nationwide are depressed and panicking. Electoral College polling shows Trump winning decisively.

A March Gallup poll helps explain Biden’s dismal polling. It showed Biden hemorrhaging votes from key demographics, down 13 points since 2020 among 18-to-29-year-olds, 16 points among Hispanics and 19 points among Blacks. All indications suggest these downward trends will continue.

Democrats might accept the certainty of defeat with grace. Fat chance.

Or maybe the swamp will make old Joe an offer he couldn’t refuse: Step aside and we’ll see your family is safe and prosperous, or stay in the race, lose and we’ll throw your family to the dogs (Republicans).

Though stubborn, proud and arrogant, Biden wouldn’t risk his family. Just prior to the convention, Joe would accede to the swamp’s demands and bow out.

Of course, party leaders would not force Joe out if they hadn’t settled first on who would top the new ticket. Their options are many. Their good options are few.

To Democrats, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is an obvious choice. Smart, articulate, politically savvy and very progressive, being an obvious option is problem one. He’d win the west coast and the northeast and get crushed in most of the rest of the country. Progressives love California, but the rest of the country just sees San Franciscans dancing in the streets like Gene Kelly singing in the rain, except they’re not dancing and singing, they’re dodging panhandlers, used needles and human feces.

The second option is Vice President Kamala Harris. If the only problem with Joe Biden is advanced age, then Harris becomes a natural successor to carry on Biden’s policies. Of course, being old isn’t Biden’s only problem. The other real biggie is immigration and the southern border, but every Democrat must carry that heavy baggage.

Harris’ problem is she’s a terrible politician, always has been, with polling numbers so low she likely envies Biden. If pushed aside, Harris would need assuaging with a plum like a promised Supreme Court slot, assuming Democrats hold the White House with their new ticket.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is also mentioned, but Pritzker is the Democrat’s Chris Christie; ‘nough said.

Washington retreads like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren would get a look, but her 2020 campaign flamed out so badly she doesn’t qualify for “break glass in case of emergency” candidate.

Which among top options leaves Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose anonymity outside Michigan is a strength. It gives her room to breathe. She’d be the “new and improved” candidate, which works marketing wonders. She could regain an advantage with suburban White women and give Democrats a chance of winning Michigan without which victory in November is almost impossible.

Could any of these alternatives win in November? Absolutely. Relieved of the inevitability of defeat, Democratic blocs would bury their differences and rally to the flag. Democratic voters would breathe a sigh of relief, embracing their new champion. Independent, swing-state voters who loathed their choices before would give the new face a more than fair hearing.

Could a Biden alternative really sidetrack the Trump train with only weeks to make the introduction and the sale? Maybe not. But Democrats would have a far better chance than with the old train wreck who can’t.

J.D. Foster is the former chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget and former chief economist and senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He now resides in relative freedom in the hills of Idaho.

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