With high unpopularity numbers brought about by a miserable economy, rising crime and a mass invasion at the border, Biden only had two arguments for his reelection campaign.
The first was that he was the incumbent and the second was Trump.
The incumbent argument was an appeal to tradition but wouldn’t move a party already burned by nominating Hillary Clinton in 2016. Both the Dems and the GOP are tired of nominating ‘next-in-line’ candidates, e.g. McCain, Dole, Hillary Clinton, Biden, who have nothing to recommend them except seniority.
From the beginning, Biden made his reelection campaign about Trump, delivering his fascist speeches about ‘democracy’, dispatching Attorney General Garland to begin the prosecution of Trump, and presenting himself as the bulwark against a monster that he was busy inventing. Biden did this because fighting Trump was the only argument he had that no other Democrat could. His argument was that he had ‘beaten’ Trump and it was too dangerous to let an untested Democrat, like say Newsom, run against Trump in 2024.
But the argument only worked as long as the polling did. As Biden’s approval ratings continue to crater, the Trump argument cuts the other way.
By building Trump into a dangerous monster, Biden hoped to make 2024 into an election referendum on Trump, not on him. This was the same tactic that he had successfully used in 2020, campaigning from a basement while making Trump the issue. But it’s a more difficult trick to pull off when Trump is no longer the incumbent, Biden is.
And Democrats, seeing poll numbers that have Trump beating Biden in swing states, are moving over to the position that the race is too dangerous (what with democracy, blueberry pie and the death of civilization on the ticket) to let a historically unpopular candidate whom most of his party doesn’t want to run take the wheel in the most consequential election since the last one.
Biden had hoped to use a phantom menace to win an otherwise unwinnable election. But his own monster may be on the verge of destroying him.