Replacing Biden or Trump Would Be Hard

Monday, February 12, 2024

At Politico, Charlie Mahtesian and Steven Shepard game out what it would take for the Democrats to replace Joe Biden, whose age and unpopularity would make him a non-starter in just about any election, except for the fact that he's almost certainly running against Donald Trump in this one.

Suffice it to say, it would be very difficult to do this, even if President Biden willingly stepped down, which is what this would take, so long as he remains President.

Mahtesian and Shepard also consider how the Democrats would cope with a dead or disabled candidate, assuming they don't replace him:

Image by Aubrey Odom, via Unsplash, license.
Alternatively, what if Biden pushed through the doubts and was nominated at the convention in late August, but was then unable to compete in the November election? Convention rules say, in the event of the "death, resignation or disability" of the nominee, Jaime Harrison, the party chair, "shall confer with the Democratic leadership of the ... Congress and the Democratic Governors Association and shall report" to the roughly 450 members of the Democratic National Committee, who would choose a new nominee. They'd also pick a new running mate if they elevated Harris to the top of the ticket.
Before you think something like At least they have a process in place to deal with that, think again. The logistics would be ... challenging:
A late Biden departure from the ticket would pose a logistical nightmare for the states. Overseas military ballots are set to go out in some places just a couple of weeks after the convention ends, and in-person early voting begins as soon as Sept. 20 in Minnesota and South Dakota. Yes, Americans technically vote for electors, not presidential candidates -- but any post-convention effort to replace Biden would likely end up in court if votes have already been cast with the name "Joseph R. Biden Jr." on the ballot.

The duo briefly consider the analogous scenario for the Republicans and point out that it would be even harder for them to change candidates:
[I]n one way, Trump's grasp on the GOP nomination may be stronger than Biden's on the Democratic side: Delegates to the Republican convention are actually bound, not just pledged, to their candidate on the first ballot. So there'd be no way to deny Trump if he had the majority of delegates going into the Milwaukee convention -- even if he was convicted of one or more crimes before the proceedings begin in July -- as long as he insisted on continuing his campaign. [bold added]
I have a low-enough opinion of politicians that I hold out little hope that the authors have missed a codicil somewhere that un-binds delegates in the event of a felony conviction.

This makes Nikki Haley's long-shot/"insurance policy" candidacy seem much more the former and much less the latter.

That's too bad: Haley is by no means perfect, but she would be far better in office than Trump and has consistently polled better than Trump against Biden. I also suspect that she would also at least be competitive if Biden did step aside and the Democrats picked someone who could pass as sane/moderate to enough independents.

-- CAV

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