When it comes to the 2024 election, one of the most popular conspiracy theories is that the Democrats, at some point late in 2024, will “switch out” President Joe Biden from the ticket at the last minute and replace him with another candidate who has a better chance of winning. In most versions, this candidate is either California Gov. Gavin Newsom or former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The theory has no truth to it. In fact, the argument was made multiple times during the 2020 campaign, but Biden went ahead as the Democratic candidate and was in fact elected president. Still, the “Biden switch” theory is repeated over and over again.
There are, of course, other weaknesses in the theory.
Despite an elaborate argument made by Sen. Ted Cruz in a podcast appearance last month, Michelle Obama has been adamant for about 15 years that she has no interest in running for office. She seems unlikely to change her mind, especially if it meant knifing Vice President Kamala Harris in the process. While no one doubts Newsom has ambitions to run for president himself one day, he has been an active and enthusiastic surrogate for the Biden-Harris campaign.
Also, “Democrat kingmakers,” in Cruz’ phrase, don’t have the power to remove Biden weeks before a general election, especially if he has already won the Democratic nomination. Cruz likely remembers such a scenario happening following the “Access Hollywood” scandal in 2016, when some top Republicans wanted Donald Trump removed as the Republican nominee, but Trump left them no choice. He refused to step aside.
Puck wrote about the supposed plan this week, calling it the “Biden Plan B Delusion,” and pointed out another reason why the Biden switch-out scenario is impossible: The deadline to enter the Nevada primary is Oct. 15, which is very soon. Anyone who misses that deadline will not be eligible to go on the presidential ballot in all 50 states. Most of the other early states have ballot deadlines in October and November.
Therefore, if Gavin Newsom, Michelle Obama, or any other Democrat not currently running does not decide to run for president by that date, that person will not be on the ballot in the entire country, and will therefore not be a viable candidate for president in 2024.
“This disconcerting reality, however predictable, has many in the D.C. cafeteria asking the inevitable, if notably farfetched, question: When is the absolute latest moment that Biden could step down so that the party could hold a primary and field another candidate?,” the Puck story says of the idea that Biden could be replaced. “So for all the wish-casters waiting for Biden to drop out, there’s only 10 days remaining for the fantasy to take form.”
There is a possibility that some type of rebellion could take place at the Democratic convention next summer, but brokered convention scenarios never happen anymore, and it’s especially unlikely this time, with the DNC, party establishment, and every major Democratic elected official firmly behind Biden and Harris.
If for some reason, whether through death, illness, or incapacitation, Biden is not able to run for president in 2024, it is fairly clear that the Democratic nominee for president will be Kamala Harris, and no one else.
The Puck story added that the “flailing” impeachment inquiry against Biden has given some Democrats hope that Biden can improve his poll standing, which has shown him mostly even with Trump of late.
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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