58% of respondents say both candidates are too old to run

56% of Democrats think Biden should quit race after debate flop — poll

67% of all US adults surveyed think incumbent shouldn’t run, including 7 out of 10 independent voters; Kamala Harris is preferred replacement among party’s voters

US President Joe Biden similes as he meets with British Prime Minister Keir Starmer in the Oval Office of the White House, July 10, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden similes as he meets with British Prime Minister Keir Starmer in the Oval Office of the White House, July 10, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A poll released Thursday found that a slight majority of Democrats want United States President Joe Biden to drop out of the 2024 election after his poor showing at a debate last month against GOP rival and former president Donald Trump.

The Washington Post-ABC News-Ipsos poll found that 56 percent of Democrats believe Biden should pull out of the race, compared to 42% who think he should keep campaigning.

Overall, 67% of US adults also think he should bow out of the election, while more than seven out of 10 independents — voters who could well determine the outcome of the election — also say he should quit, the poll found.

Biden’s re-election campaign has been on the ropes for two weeks since the 81-year-old incumbent’s stumbling debate performance against Trump — his 78-year-old Republican rival — raised fresh questions about his age and mental acuity — concerns that voters had long raised in public opinion polls.

Thursday’s poll found that 58% of Americans believe both candidates are too old to run, with 28% saying only Biden is too old, while 2% think only Trump is too old.

But Biden has insisted he is not dropping out, and party rules make it all but impossible for anyone else to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in August unless he steps aside.

US President Joe Biden and former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participate in the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, June 27, 2024. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

Democrats would also have to determine whether to hand the nomination to Vice President Kamala Harris or give others like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer or US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg a chance to make their case.

The poll found that 70% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents would be “satisfied” with Harris taking the role, and also put her as the most preferred candidate (28%) among a group of possibilities if Biden were to step aside. Seven percent said they would back California Governor Gavin Newsom, followed by former first lady Michelle Obama (4%), Buttigieg (3%) and Whitmer (3%).

Biden and Trump polled neck-and-neck at 46% among registered voters, while Harris beat Trump by two percent — 49% to 47% — when the survey pitted them against each other. However, the two-point difference isn’t statistically significant.

The past week has brought a steady drip of elected Democrats calling on Biden to end his campaign, citing concerns that he could not only lose the White House but cost the party control of both chambers of Congress.

Peter Welch on Wednesday evening became the first Democratic senator to call on Biden to step aside, joining at least nine Democratic members of the House of Representatives who have done the same.

Welch, a first-term senator from Vermont, said Biden should end his candidacy “for the good of the country.”

Several high-profile lawmakers have said Biden should stay in the race, and many others, including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, have declined to say definitively whether he should step aside.

Biden has seen his fundraising advantage over Trump disappear in recent months, and some high-profile Democratic donors, including actor George Clooney, are also calling on him to step aside.

US President Joe Biden (L) and Vice President Kamala Harris hold a campaign event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 29, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Biden to hold first solo news conference in eight months

Biden will try to head off growing opposition within his own party on Thursday, sending out his advisers to meet with Democratic senators to shore up their support and holding his first solo news conference in almost eight months at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time (2130 GMT), when he is due to field questions from the White House press corps.

At his first formal solo news conference since November 2023, Biden will have to speak extemporaneously on a wide range of topics — including likely questions on whether his doctors have found evidence of mental decline.

A White House official said it was expected to have a similar format to Biden’s last solo press conference when the president called on four reporters who asked about topics from defending Taiwan to deaths in Gaza and then answered a smattering of questions shouted at him.

Biden may call on a few more reporters this time, according to a person briefed on the matter.

His offhand reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” at the end of the news conference capped a carefully planned summit with Xi and drew an angry response from China.

US President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wis., Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

It will be Biden’s most unscripted appearance since the June 27 debate, where he appeared to lose his train of thought several times and stumbled over many answers.

An interview with ABC News last week raised further alarms when Biden said he would be satisfied if he lost the election as long as he tried his best.

Previous interactions with White House reporters have also backfired. In February, Biden mixed up the presidents of Egypt and Mexico at an impromptu news conference he called to rebut a prosecutor’s assessment that he had a poor memory.

Before the news conference, several top aides, including Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon, will meet with Democratic senators at lunch in an effort to shore up support in the chamber where he served between 1973 and 2009.

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