AOC vs. Biden in 2024? A recent Quinnipiac poll was filled with bad news for President Joe Biden. His job approval rating among all Americans was at just 33 percent. Among registered voters alone, it was barely better at 35 percent. But two numbers should especially terrify Democrats.
Biden’s support among young voters was abysmal. Only 21 percent of the 18-34 age group approved of the job he was doing as president while an eye-popping 58 percent disapproved. Only 26 percent of Hispanics said they approved while 54 percent disapproved.
The president won both voting blocs in 2020. And even if you take these numbers with a grain of salt, it will be hard for the Democrats to avoid sweeping losses this November, much less two years from now, without strong turnout from younger and Hispanic voters.
Perhaps Democrats do have someone on their bench who could turn these numbers around: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or as the kids like to say, AOC.
The liberal Squad leader is young, but she will turn 35 shortly before the 2024 presidential election. The Democratic Party’s gerontocracy could be a reason for the slippage with the youths. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip James Clyburn are all over 80; Biden will celebrate his 80th birthday shortly after the midterms this year.
Ocasio-Cortez is also Hispanic. She has been outspoken about what considers the party’s “really disgraceful” lack of Latino representation in leadership. There’s an obvious way for her to help rectify the problem.
Biden has reportedly already told former President Barack Obama that he is planning on running for reelection in 2024. He wouldn’t easily surrender the job he has been pining for since before Ocasio-Cortez was born. But unless his numbers rebound, a Democratic primary challenge cannot be ruled out.
It would be logical for that challenge to come from the left. That’s where the last serious primary bid against a sitting Democratic president came from, when Sen. Ted Kennedy took on the similarly inflation-plagued Jimmy Carter. Sen. Bernie Sanders has just mounted two consecutive progressive challenges to the party establishment, taking on Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Progressives would like to build on that momentum, but should look to get younger at the position. Already 80, Sanders is older than Biden. An even semi-successful challenger would need to run a vigorous, youthful campaign in contrast with Biden, who has clearly lost a step. Even if Biden cannot be dislodged, the campaign would be a good movement-building exercise for an ascendant but frustrated wing of the party.
While Republicans hammer Biden for his liberal record, there is also an opening on the left to hit him for all the progressive things that remain undone. No Build Back Backer, no filibuster reform and therefore no voting bills. No Supreme Court expansion. Yes, a lot of that is because the Senate is evenly split and reliant on the votes of its least liberal Democrats. But left-wingers also regard Biden as unimaginative and too wedded to outdated concepts about bipartisanship and Washington institutions.
AOC is also a prodigious fundraiser and organizer. She could mobilize people Biden can’t. And while Biden or another establishment Democrat would likely have a convincing financial edge, she could raise enough money to stay competitive.
All this amounts to the case for AOC in 2024. The downsides of her running would be equally huge. She’s never run outside of a deep, blue district before. A national campaign is a very different animal.
While Ocasio-Cortez is adept at creating viral moments, it’s not clear how she would do under serious media scrutiny. Up until now, she has mostly gotten flattering press outside of conservative publications. That would change if she took on Biden.
Then there is the matter of what would happen if she won the nomination. At a fundamental level, her candidacy would be a rejection of the voters’ main reasons for turning on Biden — that he is too liberal — and leaning heavily into the position that he has failed because he hasn’t been left-wing enough.
AOC represents all the trends — wokeness, defunding the police, abolishing immigration enforcement, cultural radicalism — that have driven working-class voters, including a nontrivial number of Hispanics, away from the Democratic Party. But as an overt socialist, she has none of the guardrails that have made it safe for suburbanites to vote blue.
Democrats themselves have recoiled in horror at the prospect of such a nominee. When Sanders looked like he might have a real shot at heading into the general election, Democrats — especially black voters — turned out in droves, fearing the worst electoral drubbing since George McGovern’s 49-state landslide loss in 1972.
That’s how we ended up with Joe Biden.
Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, W. James Antle III is the Washington Examiner’s politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and senior writer for the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? You can follow home on Twitter: @Jimantle.