There is widespread and growing speculation that President Joe Biden, whether due to his age or low approval ratings or a combination of those and other things, will not run for a second term in office in 2024.
That would seemingly leave the Democratic field wide-open for a replacement nominee, and it increasingly looks like Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, and not Vice President Kamala Harris, is a top contender for the Democratic Party’s 2024 nomination, The Hill reported.
“Who knows,” Buttigieg says to future aspirations
Sec. Buttigieg, who initially performed well in the 2020 primary season before dropping out and endorsing Biden after South Carolina — and was later rewarded with a top Cabinet appointment — was recently asked to share his thoughts on if he might run for the presidency again in the future.
“You don’t run for an office — well, maybe some people do — because you always wanted to,” Buttigieg replied. “But I think you run for an office because you notice something about the office, and something about yourself, and something about the moment that adds up.”
“So who knows what the future is going to call me,” he added.
Analysis and polling favorable to Buttigieg
In mid-July, The Washington Post published a list of the top 10 most likely Democrats to be picked as the party’s nominee in 2024, given the acknowledged possibility that President Biden may not run again or, though less likely, would be passed over by voters in a competitive primary contest.
The Post still ranked Biden as most likely to be the Democratic nominee, but in second place sat Buttigieg, ahead of VP Harris and a host of senators and state governors whose names have been floated as possible candidates in the next cycle, though largely only if Biden declines to run again.
Just a couple of weeks after that list was published, the New York Post reported that a poll of likely Democratic primary voters in the important early primary state of New Hampshire had actually shown Buttigieg with a slight lead over Biden.
Indeed, in the poll that also showed that 74 percent of Democrats in the state wanted somebody other than Biden to be the 2024 nominee, Buttigieg drew 17 percent support compared to 16 percent for Biden — well above all others who garnered 10 percent or less, including Harris, who was mired in seventh place with a mere 6 percent support.
A lot of built-in assumptions and contingencies
The Hill noted that one thing Buttigieg had working in his favor that others lacked was his position as Transporation secretary that allowed him to travel across the country, ostensibly in an official capacity, to tout one of the few relatively non-controversial legislative achievements of the Biden White House, the bipartisan infrastructure improvement spending bill.
To be sure, critics would suggest that Buttigieg really hasn’t done much as the head of the Transportation Department, but with the aid of strategists and media acolytes, he has given the appearance of getting things accomplished and, sadly, that will potentially be enough to convince some voters that he is presidential material.
Of course, any 2024 hopes for Buttigieg are entirely contingent upon Biden not running again, avoiding any major scandals of his own, and sidestepping Harris as the likely heir apparent for the party nomination, though in regard to that last point, there is already some quiet talk of Harris and Buttigieg teaming up as a ticket to clear the field of any other potential challengers.