For Democrats Pining for an Alternative, Biden Team Has a Message: Get Over It

A new poll shows that nearly two in five Democrats say that the president should not be their nominee. But no one who matters to the president seems willing to suggest he step aside.

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For Democrats Pining for an Alternative, Biden Team Has a Message: Get Over It |

No serious challenge has emerged to President Biden, who has dominated the early Democratic primaries.

When it comes down to it, a lot of Democrats wish President Biden were not running this fall. Only 28 percent of Democrats in a new survey by The New York Times and Siena College expressed enthusiasm about his candidacy and 38 percent said flatly that Mr. Biden should not be their nominee.

But even as many Democrats both in Washington and around the country quietly pine for someone else to take on former President Donald J. Trump, who leads nationwide in the poll by 5 percentage points, no one who matters seems willing to tell that to Mr. Biden himself. Or if they are, he does not appear to be listening.

Surrounded by a loyal and devoted inner circle, Mr. Biden has given no indication that he would consider stepping aside to let someone else lead the party. Indeed, he and the people close to him bristle at the notion. For all the hand-wringing, the president’s advisers note, no serious challenge has emerged and Mr. Biden has dominated the early Democratic primaries even more decisively than Mr. Trump has won his own party’s nominating contests.

The Biden team views the very question as absurd. The president in their view has an impressive record of accomplishment to run on. There is no obvious alternative. It is far too late in the cycle to bow out without considerable disruption. If he were ever to have opted against a second term, it would have been a year ago when there would have been time for a successor to emerge. And other than someone with Biden in their name, it is hard to imagine who would have enough influence to even broach the idea with him, much less sway him.

“There is no council of elders and I’m not sure if there was that an incumbent president, no matter who it was, would listen to them,” said David Plouffe, the architect of President Barack Obama’s campaigns and one of the strategists who helped him pick Mr. Biden as his vice-presidential running mate in 2008. “He thinks, ‘Hey, I won and I beat the guy who’s going to run against me and I can do it again.’”

Members of Mr. Biden’s team insist they feel little sense of concern. The president’s closest aides push back in exasperation against those questioning his decision to run again and dismiss polls as meaningless this far before the vote. They argue that doubters constantly underestimate Mr. Biden and that Democrats have won or outperformed expectations in 2018, 2020, 2022, 2023 and even a special House election this year.

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