Forget age, poll ratings. Here’s why Biden is poised to soar to re-election like Reagan | Opinion
Democratic angst has been a recurring theme at nearly every step of Joe Biden’s presidency. Could he beat Donald Trump? Is he doing enough to combat inflation? How bad will the midterms be on Biden’s watch?
The newest concern for Democrats to fret about? Biden’s age, with Democrats ranging from younger members of Congress, such as Rep. Dean Phillips, and those all the way to Biden’s fellow octogenarian, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing the “negatives” his age brings to a potential 2024 campaign. The candidate presumed to give Trump the biggest challenge for the Republican nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is only 44 years old.
Instead of perceiving Biden’s age as a weakness, it should be viewed as a strength. Joe Biden is the next Ronald Reagan, and 2024 is shaping up to be akin to the 1984 election — which Reagan won in an unprecedented landslide. Here’s exactly why.
Biden’s record of success is unparalleled in recent history. Since Biden took office, he’s signed three massive public investment bills into law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, two of which earned bipartisan support. He oversaw the first bipartisan bill to enact meaningful gun safety legislation since the Brady Bill nearly thirty years ago.
Biden has guided the United States through an international crisis, deftly handling the Russian advancement of Ukraine. He saw the worst inflation since the Carter administration and oversaw efforts to tamp it down quickly and effectively.
These have direct parallels to the Reagan administration. In the early part of Reagan’s presidency, he had to deal with the Iran hostage crisis and decimating stagflation. He focused the early part of his presidency on two massive domestic economic bills: The Economic Recovery Act of 1981 and the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Bill of 1982.
These economic efforts led to tangible results for both presidents — and one can make the strong argument that Biden’s economic recovery has far surpassed the height of Reagan’s. During the Reagan administration, it is estimated that between 1982 and 1987, 10.5 million jobs were created and unemployment dropped from its peak of 10.8% in 1982 to 7.2% by the election in November 1984.
In a little more than two years of the Biden administration, more than 12 million jobs have already been created and the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.3% to 3.6%. In other words, the Biden Boom is real and his economic record is actually stronger than Reagan’s.
Next, let’s take a look at job approval ratings — a constant source of angst about Biden. According to Gallup, Reagan’s approval rating stood at 41% in mid-March 1983. Biden’s at the same point of his administration stands at a nearly identical 42%. Just like Reagan, this gives Biden plenty of time to turn it around before election season starts to heat up.
Now, let’s talk about the challengers: Trump running again is the same as if Carter had decided to seek a rematch in 1984. Fairly or not, Americans remember the tough times of Carter’s presidency. The Trump presidency was defined by chaos. One can assume the same logic will likely apply if Trump is able to win the nomination — Americans will reject a return to turbulent times.
As for DeSantis, generational divide will be at the center of his contrast with Biden. But that might actually favor Biden, as Reagan sealed the election with his famous quip about the age difference between him and Mondale in 1984: “I will not make age an issue in this campaign. I will not exploit my opponent’s age and inexperience.” Remember that line if DeSantis wins the Republican nomination in 2024.
Finally, let’s look at the electoral map. With today’s polarization, we’ll probably never see a Reagan-style electoral beatdown. In 2024, as few as six states will decide the contest. Taking those out, the baseline map shows Republicans with 235 electoral votes and Democrats with 226.
Given 2022 election results, one can place Michigan and Pennsylvania into the lean Democratic column, making the count 260-235 for Democrats.
Biden, however, will be favored in all six swing states, leaving us with a baseline Democratic lead of 303-235. For a Reagan-style blowout, Biden would have to pick off states such as North Carolina, Alaska, and Texas. Flip those three states and the final electoral margin is 362-176. This scenario is far more likely than a Republican winning this election.
The upshot is that Democrats should trust Biden. With Generation Z only getting older and coming into voting age, Millennials continuing to vote Democratic, older generations becoming dissatisfied and eventually dying, Biden has a chance to become a transformative, modern-day Ronald Reagan.
Like any election, it is going to take work to get there. To become that generational figure and flip Reaganism on its head, Biden needs to go big. Everything is in place for him to do just that.
Abhi Rahman is a communications adviser and rapid response strategist. He has served as a spokesperson for Beto O’Rourke, Stacey Abrams and the Texas Democratic Party.