(CNN) — There is a small silver lining for Joe Biden in a devastating new poll that signals growing concern about the president’s age and performance and shows that even most Democrats want another candidate in 2024. He could still beat Donald Trump.

This small consolation for the White House cannot disguise the growing signs that the Biden presidency is in deep trouble even before the midterm elections in November, which threaten a devastating rebuke to his Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. . The The New York Times/Siena College national poll published Monday coincides with a barrage of unflattering stories about Biden’s age and political competence and mounting speculation about his re-election prospects. The question of whether any Democrats would dare to challenge him in a primary is an increasingly hot topic, despite the dismissals of the main potential candidates.

And yet Biden, with an approval rating of just 33% in the poll, is still in the game against Trump. The poll shows no clear leader, with Biden polling 44% to Trump’s 41% among registered voters, within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

One poll is just a snapshot in time, but it’s not encouraging news for the former president and suggests he has a huge liability in the general electorate, despite expectations among his conservative media backers that he would prevail in the rematch on an elderly Biden in 2024.

But the closeness also points to a deeper theme that is emerging as the United States approaches 2024, and one that has implications beyond the identity of the person sitting in the Oval Office in 2025. A country mired in multiple crises. , politically distanced within and facing risky flashpoints of international tension, in 2024 may have a contest between two candidates whose answers have not worked in the previous eight years and who millions of people would like to see withdraw from the stage to make way for younger and fresher faces.

Such a scenario would be an indictment of a party system already cast into dysfunction by hyper-partisanship and Trump’s attack on the 2020 election. It would likely leave the 2024 victor without a viable mandate at a time when Washington is failing to respond. to the long-term needs of the country. And it would test voters’ faith in the political system.

Testimony from Republican officials against Trump’s plan 6:09

A defining feature of the 2024 campaign

A country where the passing of the political torch has been a raucous feature of presidential races for generations may be about to endure one last fight between 1940s babies trying to defy time.

But paradoxically, a president whom most of his own party wants to retire, and a former president who left office in deep disgrace, could be very difficult to unseat. The prospect of a contest in November 2024 between a man in his early 82s and a 78-year-old former president is very real.

Biden is a proud man. He has waited a lifetime to win the presidency and resents being passed over in favor of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for previous Democratic nominations. His team insists that he run for re-election and has the best argument: he has already defeated Trump and deserves the opportunity to repeat it.

Trump, for his part, is willing to launch a revenge campaign, aides have told CNN, even before the midterm elections in November. He may want to jump in to freeze potential GOP rivals, take advantage of Biden’s low approval ratings and cast any possible criminal referrals from the House select committee investigating his attempted coup as a ploy. naked politics.

Any attempt from within the Democratic and Republican parties to oust either candidate could backfire, and could require challengers to stake their own political futures to do so, diminishing the likelihood of a truly contested primary. The odds of either Biden or Trump giving up a race for the good of their parties seem slim, though events and health issues could still reshape the futures of the two rivals.

Biden’s presidency undermined

Biden’s presidency has been in freefall for nearly a year, since the messy and bloody US withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer and his promised promise last July 4 that the coronavirus pandemic was all but over. Both of these things undermined his self-assigned job description of him as America’s fixer.

It’s not just independents and cross-Republicans who have lost faith in Biden. His support in his own party is also plummeting, according to The New York Times poll, which shows that more than 60% of Democrats prefer an alternative candidate in 2024. Those who want change cite Biden’s age and his job performance as the two main reasons. This is an alarm signal for the president.

If Democrats fare poorly in the midterm elections, in which they are expected to lose the House of Representatives but hold on to the Senate, calls for a new face at the helm of the 2024 ticket are sure to mount.

CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere has spent the past few days chronicling unease among Democrats about their president, but has found a unified front of key party figures warning that an anti-Biden move could let a Republican win. 2024. No one needs to remember how Senator Edward Kennedy’s 1980 challenge fatally weakened President Jimmy Carter — a one-term predecessor to whom Biden is increasingly being compared — and ushered in 12 years of Republicans in the Oval Office. But a cataclysmic midterm election will increase the pressure on Biden exponentially.

As the White House dismisses questions about the upcoming election as media speculation, talk of Biden’s age and prospects is growing among Democratic voters and a broader swath of Americans outside the presidential bubble.

Given that Biden was the oldest president in history at the time of his inauguration, the question of his age was always going to come up. His political problems may have moved the conversation forward. Incidents like the one that happened recently when Biden fell off his bike, which could happen to any president, get a lot more coverage given his age. And it is undeniable that the president is no longer the agile and jumping politician par excellence of his years as vice president. He has significantly aged in office. It is his misfortune that, despite regular training and a medical report indicating that he is fit to serve, he must endure relentless public scrutiny. But that’s part of the job.

The White House needs to prepare for constant questions about Biden’s future plans, Democratic strategist James Carville told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday. “It’s not going to go away. I suspect they don’t like this story very much, but they’re going to have to deal with it,” said Carville, who engineered Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted Monday that Biden was focused on the present and not the future. “Polls are going to go up and they’re going to go down,” she said. “This is not what we are exclusively focused on.”

How Biden could turn it around

Biden’s troubles among Democratic voters may reflect the divided nature of his party, and even his own success in 2020. His victory in the Democratic primary was forged by running as a statesman’s voice for a quiet majority of moderates in a party with an increasingly young and progressive base.

But that electorally successful coalition has proven to be a liability to govern in many cases. Despite early successes like the passage of a major COVID-19 relief bill, the reduction of child poverty, and the signing of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, hopes for an era of progressive Lyndon Johnson-style reforms they have caved in to the frustration of House progressives, furious that moderate senators like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin restricted Biden’s agenda.

An unlikely late push to enact some big wins, like climate and social spending, before the midterms could excite Democratic voters and improve Biden’s prospects. But in recent weeks there have been warning signs, such as the White House’s initial response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of the constitutional right to abortion, which followed a draft conservative majority opinion released by Politician weeks before.

The White House’s stumble on abortion also raised questions about the prowess of Biden’s operation with a budding re-election campaign following the midterm elections. Running for the presidency as president entails a whole series of new challenges that are not known in a first campaign. The Commander-in-Chief is torn between his duties in the United States and abroad and the grueling campaign across the country. It’s hard for any president to keep up, and even harder for one who will be 81 during an election year.

Because of this, some strategists continue to think that Biden will end up analyzing his prospects for 2024 and decide not to run again. It would be painfully ironic if he emulated Johnson, not in the scope of his domestic reform program, but in his decision not to seek re-election after a full first term amid crumbling political prospects.

However, Biden has a card to play with the Democrats that could change everything. An early launch of the campaign by Trump would allow the president to begin again to draw a sharper contrast to a potential alternative that is viewed with horror by almost all Democrats, and many more Americans.

The New York Times poll, for example, found that if the election in 2024 were between Biden and Trump, 92% of Democrats would stay with the president.

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