Here’s Why She Won’t Replace Biden

Topline

A recent poll suggested many voters would support a presidential run by former First Lady Michelle Obama, even though she has repeatedly shot down the idea of a run as analysts and a growing number of Democrats push President Joe Biden to drop out of the race following his disastrous debate performance last week.

Key Facts

Obama, the wife of former President Barack Obama, was the only Democratto poll higher than former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical November matchup, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll released Tuesday, and she did so emphatically, trouncing Trump 50% to 39%.

Biden, meanwhile, was locked in a 40%-40% dead heat with Trump in the Ipsos poll, while Vice President Kamala Harris trailed Trump 43%-42%, California Gov. Gavin Newsom trailed 42%-39% and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was well behind Trump, who polled 41% compared to her 36%.

Michelle Obama has maintained a positive rating among voters for over a decade: A 2011 Quinnipiac University poll found over three-fifths of voters gave her a positive rating, even higher than her husband during the first term of his presidency (56.5%), and above former President Bill Clinton (59.2%).

But despite Obama’s time in the White House, her role as an advocate for healthy eating and combatting wealth inequality, and her popular memoir “Becoming,” the former first lady has repeatedly and strongly rejected notions of a presidential run, saying bluntly at the end of her husband’s second term in 2017: “No, nope, not going to do it.”

She doubled down on her opposition to a run in 2019, urging voters to support Biden instead, even as a political action committee formed to support Obama as Biden’s vice presidential pick.

Speculation of a Michelle Obama presidential run—and a potential Biden-Michelle Obama ticket—gained steam in March, with CNN commentator Alisyn Camerota floating an Obama vice presidential pick, and multiple outlets reported Democrats were quietly hinting at a Michelle Obama campaign amid concerns over Biden’s advanced age following Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report calling Biden is an “elderly man with a poor memory” (Obama rejected calls for a presidential run once again in a statement to NBC News).

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Surprising Fact

Despite Obama constantly saying she’s not interested in running for president, some bettors remain unconvinced. Betting platform Polymarket puts her odds of being the 2024 Democratic nominee at 6%—above figures like California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had 5% odds, according to Polymarket.

Key Background

Biden has faced questions about his advanced age throughout his presidency, as well as heavy criticism from Trump, who has repeatedly bashed Biden’s over what he says is diminished mental acuity and physical abilities, often mocking the president’s gaffes. But Biden’s age became a much larger concern among Democrats following CNN’s debate Thursday, when the 81-year-old appeared to struggle to stay on point in his answers, at times speaking incoherently and in a hoarse and whispery voice. At a campaign stop one day later, Biden admitted he doesn’t “debate as well” as he used to, but vowed to stay in the race, even as calls grew among Democratic pundits and lawmakers for Biden to step down. Biden also reportedly acknowledged privately he could drop out of the race if he performs poorly in an upcoming interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, The New York Times reported, though the Biden administration denied the report is accurate. Two Democratic members of Congress—Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.—have called for Biden to drop his campaign, while editorial boards of prominent publications like The New York Times and Chicago Tribune have similarly said Biden should end his 2024 run.

Tangent

A post-debate CNN/SRRS poll found Harris trails Trump 47%-45%, a better showing than Biden (six-point deficit to Trump), Whitmer (five-point deficit), Newsom (five-point deficit) and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (four-point deficit). As it stands, FiveThirtyEight’s weighted polling average pegs Biden down nearly two points to Trump (41.9% to 39.8%) in a November rematch, though a Harris candidacy could also present challenges for Democrats. Her approval rating stands at a dismal 37.5%, according to FiveThirtyEight, only narrowly above Biden (37.2%).

Further Reading

ForbesHere’s Who Is Calling On Joe Biden To Drop Out-A Democratic Lawmaker, Pundits And A Former Staffer
ForbesHere’s How Biden’s Billionaire Supporters Are Reacting To Shaky Debate-Cuban Open To Replacing Biden As Hoffman Urges Calm

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