ua en ru

Five days to decide. Will Biden withdraw from elections and who could replace him

Five days to decide. Will Biden withdraw from elections and who could replace him Joe Biden (photo: Getty Images)

One of the two key presidential candidates in the United States may change. After unsuccessful debates with Trump, some of Joe Biden's associates are urging him to withdraw his candidacy. What is behind this and how it could impact the US elections - read in the material by RBC-Ukraine.


Why Democrats are discussing removing Biden from the elections

Following unsuccessful debates with Trump, calls have emerged within the Democratic Party camp for Joe Biden to withdraw his candidacy from the elections. Despite rational arguments, the Democratic candidate and current President appeared much worse from a physiological point of view.

According to polls, some voters doubt whether Biden could perform presidential duties if re-elected. A Suffolk University/USA Today poll shows Biden trailing Trump by 3%, while an SSRS poll for CNN indicates Biden is as much as 6% behind.

Meanwhile, 56% of Democrats and registered Democratic voters believe the party has a better chance of winning with another candidate than Biden.

Pressure on Biden is ramped up from fellow party members and the American press. According to Bloomberg, dozens of Democrats in the House of Representatives are considering signing a letter urging Biden to withdraw from the electoral race.

Biden himself has reportedly expressed doubts about continuing in the race, as reported by The New York Times. He has told a key ally, whose name remains undisclosed, that he is weighing whether to continue in the race.

Who could replace Biden

American media are discussing over a dozen potential candidates, though not all are widely known to the public or included in public opinion polls. Currently, three candidates could potentially replace Biden.

They are current Vice President Kamala Harris, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Kamala Harris has high recognition due to her years of work in Biden's team, and she can also attract some voters of color. According to polls, Harris will be supported by 50% of women voters if she runs against Trump, while Biden will be able to count on 44% of women against Trump. She also has an advantage among independent voters, i.e. those who support neither Democrats nor Republicans: 43% for Harris if she runs against Trump, and 34% for Biden if he runs against Trump. It is also important that if she is nominated as the Democratic candidate, Harris will receive the money raised by Biden and inherit his campaign infrastructure.

On the other hand, Harris faces resistance within parts of the Democratic Party. She has failed most of her assignments from the US president, including the migration issue, which Trump would likely use to criticize her.

Gavin Newsom is essentially a younger version of Joe Biden with overlapping political agendas. Their political programs are the same, so Democratic political strategists will not need to change their campaign narratives much. However, he is currently losing even more - 48% of registered voters are ready to vote for Trump, 43% for Newsom.

Pete Buttigieg, the youngest among those who could replace Biden at only 42, has been groomed for a high position in the White House for some time. During the 2020 primaries, he even placed third among Democratic candidates. However, he also trails Trump significantly in polls, with 47% supporting Trump compared to 43% for Buttigieg. He would also need to completely rebuild campaign messages if he were to run.

What options the Democratic Party has

Joe Biden and his team have several options for resolving this crisis. It's not necessarily imperative to withdraw from the elections immediately, as Biden's image as Sleepy Joe can still be improved.

"The day after the debates, Biden appeared before voters and looked like a completely different person. He was active and strong, and he spoke normally again. A key strategy to reassure voters is to replace the vice president. Unfortunately, there's a lot of talk about this now because Harris is not active, she's not particularly popular. And if people vote for Biden, it will be a vote not only for the President but also for the vice president," said RBC-Ukraine expert Oleksandr Kraiev of the Ukrainian Prism Foreign Policy Council.

According to him, this is a common political tactic when it comes to older presidents in the US. Supposedly, if something happens to the head of state, a younger candidate can replace him.

For such a move, a vice president similar to Biden himself is needed. Thus, in this scenario, Kamala Harris's chances of remaining vice president are low.

However, if Joe Biden does decide to withdraw from the race, the most likely candidate to replace him remains Kamala Harris.

Even in that case, Biden's influence and support could still help his successor in the elections.

"The minimum Biden can do is to travel together for appearances, be together with them at party congresses. To show that this is his successor. That he's not just leaving politics, but is genuinely interested in making the United States strong and therefore recommends voting for this person," says Oleksandr Kraiev.

In any case, uncertainty cannot persist for long, as it confuses Biden's strategic team and, most importantly, demoralizes the party's staff across the US. Therefore, the final decision could be made within 4-5 days, according to Charles Myers, the Democratic Party's chief donor and head of Signum Global Advisors. CNN reports that Joe Biden will decide within the next 48 hours. For this, he gathered all family members.

Whichever option Biden chooses - staying and selecting a strong vice president or withdrawing from the elections - it by no means guarantees Trump an automatic victory.

Sources: sociological surveys, materials from Reuters, CNN, Bloomberg, and comments from Oleksandr Kraiev, an expert from the Ukrainian Prism Foreign Policy Council.