Has America tired of its gerontocracy? Or will we collectively shout, “Get off our damn lawn” in 2024? A poll out late yesterday from Harvard shows some level of frustration over having to endure a rerun of 2020’s presidential election, but also exhaustion with the candidates individually:
Fifty-eight percent of voters said they were open to supporting a moderate, independent presidential candidate in a contest between President Biden and former President Trump, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday.
Additionally, the survey found that majorities of voters said they do not want Biden or Trump to run in 2024.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they did not want Biden to run for a second term, while only 37 percent said they did want him to run again in 2024. Meanwhile, 55 percent of respondents said they did not want Trump to run again in 2024. Forty-five percent said they thought the former president should run again.
The Hill doesn’t make the data available for analysis, and it’s not found at the Harvard CAPS website or at Harris either. Thus it’s a bit tough to analyze the data, but we can at least consider the toplines. The split here does suggest that Trump’s getting more support from within his own party than Biden does, as well as more independents. After all, Republicans do not comprise 45% of the electorate. Democrats might be 37% of the electorate, but that would be a stretch, especially in this midterm cycle.
To that point, however, it looks like their respective parties plan to recreate the rematch:
However, among their own bases, Trump and Biden are the top 2024 presidential picks. Thirty-seven percent of voters said that if the Democratic presidential primary for the 2024 election were held today they would vote for Biden, while 58 percent said they would vote for Trump if the GOP presidential primary were held today.
In a hypothetical match-up, 45 percent of respondents said they would vote for Trump, while 43 said they would vote for Biden.
What happens when a “moderate independent” gets thrown into the mix, however? The poll results suggest that almost six in ten Americans would give strong consideration to Door Number 3, a figure that pollster Mark Penn says is as high as he’s ever seen it. Polling on this point probably doesn’t stretch back as far as Ross Perot’s independent presidential runs (or “Reform Party” runs, to be accurate), but I’d bet that Michael Bloomberg might have wished for numbers like that two years ago. And he might well be looking at it now, although at 80 years old, he’s older than the two leading gerontocrats already in the mix.
Would voters be attracted to an independent bid regardless of which candidates get the major-party nominations in 2024, though? Occasionally some will suggest adding “none of the above” to the ballot and running a do-over if it wins, but that would be a recipe for perpetual campaigns. (As if we don’t have that bad enough already.) To some extent it’s an easy pose to declare a pox upon both houses, but voters usually want to make a choice between two candidates with a real chance of winning, and so come home to the two major-party nominees.
A result this high for an independent bid, along with the high negatives for the two alternatives, could mean that voters are fed up enough to break out of that paradigm. If such an independent candidate won, that would create all sorts of problems with a hostile Congress manned entirely by Republicans and Democrats, but that might be worth it just to make a point … if those two parties can’t do any better in their nominations.
For some final thoughts on that point, let us turn to my pal Andrew Malcolm’s column at RedState, where the title sums up his argument well: “I’m Really Sick of Old F***s in DC ‘Running’ Our Country! How About You?” Fill in the asterisks to your taste, of course. Andrew and I also discuss this on my podcast episode dropping today.