The list of candidates likely to vie for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 reads like a who’s who of power politics: former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, hotshot Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, superstar Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, and of course, a guy named Donald Trump.
But the list of what The Washington Post on Sunday called “The top 10 Democratic presidential candidates for 2024, ranked” looks like a motley crew of wannabes, has-beens and never-gonna-bes.
Here are the Post’s top 10:
10. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
9. California Gov. Gavin Newsom
8. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
7. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown
6. North Carolina Gov. Roy Asberry Cooper III
5. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
4. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
3. Vice President Kamala Harris
2. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
1. President Biden
So if you’re keeping track at home, that list includes four candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination who have already tried and failed (miserably, in the case of “Fauxcahontas”), a governor who was so unpopular in his own liberal state that voters tried to recall him, and a 32-year-old member of Congress who today isn’t even eligible to serve as president (by Election Day 2024, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will have qualified by just 22 days).
And has anyone heard of Mr. Cooper? Seriously, I cover politics for a living, and I’ve never heard his name, not once. And he’s No. 6 on the list?! Oof.
Aaron Blake, the writer of the Post story, referred to a YouGov poll from last month, writing that “only 21% of Democratic-leaning voters said their choice was the incumbent Democratic president, Joe Biden.”
“This is not normal. We’ve seen some evidence that Democrats aren’t sold on nominating Biden for a second term, including a poll in November showing a majority of Democrats didn’t want him to run again. But many Republicans say the same about a repeat run for Donald Trump in 2024 — yet he’s the clear front-runner when you pit him against actual would-be opponents,” Mr. Blake wrote.
And the writer said that even if Mr. Biden were to run again — he’d be 83 on Inauguration Day 2025 — he might face opposition from members of his own party, which has rarely happened in the modern era.
“In previous installments, we excluded Biden from the list, suggesting we’d probably have a true primary only if he didn’t run. But we increasingly need to consider the possibility that, if he does run, he won’t have the field to himself — and that he might not be the most likely nominee, all things considered,” the article said.
The fact that the list includes Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who just a few years ago was a bartender, shows you how thin the bench is for Democrats. Sure, she knows her way around social media, and she seems to inspire some young people, but she’s only sponsored 23 bills, none of which have passed, according to ProPublica.
But the Post just loves her. “She doesn’t seem to be taking the kind of steps that others on this list are, but she would have a built-in base, and the progressive lane will be significantly more open this time since [Vermont Democratic Socialist Bernie] Sanders has said he’s very likely out,” Mr. Blake wrote.
In another odd ranking, the liberal paper put the transportation secretary ahead of the vice president, “but not with any great conviction on our part.” Huh? Then why … oh, never mind.
“He ran a good campaign in 2020 — we’ll repeat that he was very close to winning the first two contests — and would enter 2024 with more heft as a Cabinet secretary. Mostly, we’d expect a Biden-less race to be one of the most wide-open contests in recent memory. To the extent people don’t want Biden or Harris, he’s next in line just in terms of sheer plausibility,” Mr. Blake wrote of Mr. Buttigieg.
As for Ms. Harris — who should be the obvious nominee if Mr. Biden doesn’t run — the Post said: “We’re dropping Harris down a slot this time. Being vice president is certainly a good launchpad, but it’s not at all clear Harris has put it to good use.”
That’s the understatement of the year. More than a dozen top aides in her office have bailed out in just 15 months amid reports from CNN and other liberal outlets that she’s a bully running a highly dysfunctional office. What’s more, according to a November survey by USA Today, Ms. Harris’ approval rating sat at 28%, making her one of the least popular vice presidents in modern history.
It hasn’t gotten better. The Post noted that the YouGov poll found just 14% of Democratic-leaning voters support Ms. Harris, the heir apparent.
Democrats should be thanking their lucky stars the election isn’t this November, or maybe they really would have to tap that guy named Roy Asberry Cooper III.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.