March 2, 2024

Had Biden honored his 2020 pledge to be a transitional president, we would be in the midst of an exciting multicandidate race for the Democratic nomination that could be decided with the February 27 Michigan primary. With Kamala Harris’s current 28 percent positive rating in the NBC poll (which, incidentally, is lower than Biden’s numbers), there is no guarantee that the veep would be leading the pack. Vice Presidents George H.W. Bush (1988) and Al Gore (2000) faced spirited battles for the presidential nomination, not to mention Hubert Humphrey’s ordeal at the tumultuous 1968 Democratic convention. 

Whoever would win the Democratic nomination in a post-Biden primary season—including Harris—would be bathed in a hero narrative by campaign reporters. The media has its biases—and a big one is that journalists are sycophantic on the way up and vicious on the way down. It is easy to envision a spate of articles contrasting the vigor of the de facto Democratic nominee (Harris, Gretchen Whitmer, and Gavin Newsom are all, for example, in their fifties) with Trump, whose idea of vigorous exercise is a ride in a golf cart.

Yes, the primary campaign might point up Democratic divisions over Israel, border policies, and perhaps race and gender. But with the specter of President Trump in 2025 deporting millions of immigrants, weaponizing the Justice Department, and withdrawing from NATO, Democratic unity would be easy to forge.