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Biden Kicks Off Fundraising Blitz Amid Lack of Enthusiasm Among Key Voter Groups

US President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One at Boston Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 5, 2023.
US President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One at Boston Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 5, 2023.

President Joe Biden is in Boston, Massachusetts, Tuesday kicking off a series of three fundraising events, including a concert by singer-songwriter James Taylor. Biden will be appearing at several more fundraisers over the next week, raising money for his reelection bid in November 2024.

With less than a year before his potential matchup with Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Biden launched sharp attacks against the former president. He argued that the fate of American democracy is at stake, warning that Trump has made clear what he plans to do if he wins.

"Trump's not even hiding the ball anymore. He's telling us what he's going to do. He's making no bones about it," Biden said at one of the events.

Biden cited Trump's pledge to provide "retribution" for his supporters and to root out the "vermin" in the country. He warned of increased restrictions on abortion if Trump is reelected and reminded donors of the former president's recent call to again repeal the Affordable Care Act, the increasingly popular expansion of public health insurance also known as Obamacare.

Former President Donald Trump greets supporters during a stop at the Front Street Pub & Eatery, Dec. 5, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.
Former President Donald Trump greets supporters during a stop at the Front Street Pub & Eatery, Dec. 5, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.

To win, said Democratic Party strategist Julie Roginsky, the president must again motivate the coalition that brought him to the White House in 2020, including youth and minority groups — voters that traditionally are a key part of the Democratic base.

That may be a bigger challenge in 2024. A New York Times/Siena Poll released in November found that 22% of Black voters and 42% of Hispanic voters in six key battleground states would choose Trump over Biden in 2024. Fifty-one percent of voters from other nonwhite racial backgrounds also favor Trump, compared with 39% for Biden.

Enthusiasm is also waning among young voters. According to a poll by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, only 49% of those ages 18-29 say they "definitely" plan on voting in the presidential election in 2024, down from 57% who said so in response to the question in 2019. The sharpest decline was among younger Black and Hispanic Americans.

Biden campaign confident
The Biden campaign has been investing in media outreach to make their case to Black and Latino voters, and they say they are confident.

"President Biden and Vice President [Kamala] Harris are proud to have received historically early and united support from across the diverse coalition that sent them to the White House in record numbers in 2020," campaign spokesperson Seth Schuster said in a statement to VOA.

"We're meeting voters where they are, engaging on key issues — lowering costs, protecting reproductive rights, combating climate change, and making schools safer from gun violence — and highlighting the enormous stakes of this election," he said.

The administration has launched new initiatives to fund businesses and entrepreneurs in communities of color, and this week released its new student loan forgiveness plan — a popular initiative among young voters.

It's Biden's second attempt at mass loan forgiveness after the Supreme Court in June overturned his original plan, which would have relieved up to $20,000 for tens of millions of Americans.

The president has work to do to repair ties with American Muslims and Arab Americans. Angry over the president's policies to support Israel in its war against Hamas and the toll on civilian lives in Gaza, the group has launched an "Abandon Biden" campaign in key swing states such as Michigan.

For voters overall, the economy remains a key concern.

Despite solid macroeconomic indicators including positive economic growth, a declining rate of inflation and continued low unemployment, only 32% of Americans approve of Biden's handling of the economy, according to a Gallup poll released last week.

Roginsky said reality is a “lagging indicator” and hoped that voter sentiment will catch up with the economy next year. But it's also a messaging issue. Bidenomics is "a cute catchphrase," she told VOA, but Democrats "need to do a much better job of explaining tangibly to voters what that means."

Bidenomics is often used as a catchall phrase to describe the administration's economic policies. Biden describes it as "growing the economy from the middle out and the bottom up," his counter to Republican "trickle-down economics" — the theory that tax breaks and benefits for corporations and the wealthy will eventually benefit everyone.

Biden, Trump tied
Biden and Trump are tied at 43% according to an early December poll by Morning Consult. This, despite the former president facing 91 felony charges in four jurisdictions. Trump maintains he is innocent, and so far, his legal troubles have not significantly hurt him among voters in battleground states.

One possible explanation on the head-to-head is that positive news on Biden is being drowned out by the negative news on Trump.

"Most of the A-level headlines in our politics now are coming from the Republican Party," said William Howell, professor in American politics at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. "It's about the primaries. It's about what's been going on in Congress. It's about Trump."

This is in part a strategic choice by Democrats, Howell told VOA. Democrats hope to bank electoral points by allowing the news to be driven by the tumult in the Republican-led House of Representatives or Trump's courtroom antics.

Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University who correctly predicted all U.S. presidential election results since 1984, has not made a final prediction on the 2024 winner. However, he said that despite anxiety among Democrats about the president's performance and concerns about his age, their only chance of victory is in keeping Biden as their nominee.

Lichtman told VOA that Democrats must support the incumbent to "avoid a disastrous internal battle." He is waiting until next year to see which candidate gets points on the economy and foreign policy before making his prediction.

In the meantime, Biden will need to stop operating at the margins and communicate his achievements on a more prominent platform, Howell said. "He's the president. He shouldn't be in a position where he is elbowing for room."

The president appears poised to do just that, starting with his donors. He will continue his fundraising blitz with a campaign event in Washington on Wednesday and another in Philadelphia on Monday.

On Friday, he heads to Los Angeles for a fundraiser featuring movie director Steven Spielberg, television producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes and other celebrities.