New Poll Says Most Californians Do Not Want to See a Second Biden Term
Lately, the number of high-profile Democrats who think Joe Biden should sit out the race in 2024 has been growing. Now most voters, even in bluest of the blue California, say they want to see someone other than Biden on the ticket.
A recent survey of more than 9,200 registered voters from the Berkeley Institute of Government Studies found that 61% said Biden should not run for a second term. When accounting for party affiliation, even Democrats are evenly split on a second Biden term – with 46% opposed and 46% in favor – while 87% of Republicans oppose Biden running again for the White House.
So, if not Biden, who then do California voters want to lead the country? Their own governor — Gavin Newsom.
The poll provided registered Democrats with a list of 16 politicians to choose from, assuming Biden did not run for reelection. While the results are far from overwhelming, Newsom picked up the most first and second choices at 25%, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Vice President Kamala Harris at 18%. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez followed with 13% and 7% when asked for voters’ top two choices.
“While many California Democrats are not convinced that Biden should run again, the absence of a clear Democratic alternative may afford the President more space in avoiding a serious primary challenge should he decide to seek reelection,” Eric Schickle, co-director of the Institute for Government Studies, said.
Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego, also cautioned that the poll is not asking California’s liberal voters to choose between Biden and possible Republican challengers like President Donald Trump. “You got to compare the lesser of two evils,” said Kousser. “This is not a prediction of how they’ll actually vote.”
After soundly beating back a recall effort last year, Newsom has resisted openly discussing his political aspirations beyond his run for reelection in November. But the governor is increasingly showing up in the conversation of likely candidates if Biden scraps his plans to run again in 2024. Newsom has taken the fight over hot-button issues to rival governors in Texas and Florida, even running ads in Texas and Florida, trolling Lone Star State Gov. Greg Abbott and Sunshine State Gov. Ron DeSantis over gun control and abortion.
For Kousser, the main takeaway of the poll is that if Biden does not run for reelection, winning the Democratic nomination is going to be a dogfight, especially for Vice President Kamala. “She hasn’t solidified her position as the heir apparent, even in her own state,” he said.