Good News/Bad News: Incumbents run on their record.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

Biden, gearing up for reelection bid, urges Democrats to tout accomplishments,” reported CBS News on March 1, 2023.

“Folks, you all know how much we’ve gotten done, but a lot of the country still doesn’t know,” President Biden told Democratic lawmakers at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference this week. “If we did nothing, nothing but implement what we’ve already passed and let people know who did it for them, we win.”

At the event, Biden proudly flourished a sign reading, “President Joe Biden” which will hang above the Frederick Douglass Tunnel under construction in Baltimore.

“We’re going to let everybody know you did it,” Biden told Democrats. “These are the signs we’re going to put up.”

That Biden chose these words in Baltimore is interesting.

Recently released international crime index numbers show Baltimore scores worst out of all U.S. cities. Clocking in at #15, Baltimore is safer than #1 Caracas, Venezuela, and #7 Kabul, Afghanistan, but Baltimore’s citizens are less safe than those living in Memphis (#18), Detroit (#19), and Kingston, Jamaica (#26).

Crime could play a major role in the next U.S. presidential election. The problems Democratic mayors are having with their reelection campaigns due to rising crime may not bode well for Biden’s chances in 2024.

If the defeat of one-term Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday is any indication, the President might soon face primary challenges from within his own party.

Republicans didn’t defeat Lori Lightfoot in Chicago. Her fellow Chicago Democrats toppled Lightfoot, all of whom obviously felt their current head of city governance was vulnerable to a challenge, despite her incumbency advantage. Which she was.

Lightfoot was elected in a landslide victory in 2019. In 2023, she barely garnered 17% of the vote.

Lightfoot’s constituents and challengers haven’t been reluctant to share their main criticism of her leadership: Crime in Chicago increased exponentially during her tenure.

Nor is Lightfoot the only embattled Democratic mayor grappling with concerns about sharply rising crime in their city.

In New York City, term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio was replaced by Eric Adams. Adams, who ran on a tough-on-crime platform, carried every New York City borough except Manhattan.

In Atlanta, one-term Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms refused to seek reelection, citing personal reasons. In Seattle, former Mayor Jenny Durkan also decided not to run for reelection, citing death threats to her and her family.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has been confronted in public, punched, and forced on one occasion to use pepper spray to defend himself from an unprovoked attack. During the height of civil unrest in Portland in 2020, Wheeler was forced to apologize to his neighbors and move after “activists” attempted to burn down his apartment building.

After a series of very high-profile killings in the city, the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans is facing a recall.

The same was true in 2021.

7 big cities elected mayors Tuesday: Crime and policing shaped the results,” reported Maya King and Lisa Kashinsky for POLITICO on November 11, 2021. “The municipal elections tested some of Democrats’ most ambitious policies and candidates in more than half a dozen big cities. Most of them didn’t make the cut.”

Even Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco,” fumed Michael Moritz on February 26, 2023, for the New York Times.

“Like it or not, San Francisco has become a prize example of how we Democrats have become our own worst enemy,” wrote Moritz. “Causes that we have long espoused — respect for human rights, plenty of housing that’s within reach for most people, care for the mentally ill, fair pay, high-quality public education, a dignified retirement — have all been crippled by a small coterie who knows how to bend government to its will.”

Listing, “the fentanyl epidemic, homeless encampments, housing that is unaffordable for most, deteriorating school systems and high tax rates,” in addition to corporate relocations, city government “radicals” and over-enthusiastic city charter reformers Moritz decried as “copy editors”, he metaphorically threw up his hands.

“Even Superman equipped with a lightsaber would not be able to govern San Francisco,” Moritz concluded.

Nor is a sharp rise in crime the only problem the Biden reelection campaign is likely to face.

Mortgage rates jump back over 7% as inflation fears drive yields higher,” announced CNBC on March 2, 2023. And while gas prices continue to cool, the prices consumers are paying at the grocery store and for other goods remain wildly inflated from two years ago.

Jobs reports continue to look rosy, month after month. Meanwhile, layoffs and missed earning quarters are rocking industries from retail sales to Silicon Valley.

Like Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Biden may soon be facing primary challenges from progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party.

The Case for a Primary Challenge to Joe Biden” proposed Mark Leibovich for the progressive news media and opinion site, The Atlantic, on February 27, 2023.

“There must be some freethinking Democrat who’s willing to get in the race,” begged Leibovich.

There is trouble abroad for President Biden, too. In addition to the disastrous Afghanistan exit, from which Biden’s approval ratings never recovered, the Chinese spy balloon/weather balloon incidents were very poorly handled, leaving Biden open to sharp criticism.

Pentagon used $358M Jet to Shoot Down Balloon,” reported Real Clear Politics last week. Some of the unidentified objects obliterated by U.S. forces appear to have been — and indeed Biden himself admitted as much — nothing but cheap weather balloons owned by hobbyists and science clubs.

While Biden received much praise for his recent visit to Ukraine, his sanctions against Russia have been less than effective. Despite Biden’s early promises, sanctions haven’t seemed to do much good.

Can Biden overcome these obstacles to win reelection?

It has already occurred to Democrats in the press that Biden’s approval rating is as bad, and in some cases, worse, than Donald Trump’s was at this point in his own one-term presidency.

Trump, unlike Biden, had the full support of the Republican Party. Biden, unlike Trump, has so far enjoyed fairly positive press coverage.

And it’s a long time between now and Election Day 2024.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)