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US President Joe Biden speaking with reporters in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Stumbling Toward the White House

Do voters trust Biden on. . . anything? Why are Democrats so mean to Dean Phillips? And what will Chris Christie do next? An update from the campaign trail.

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→ A-poll-calypse now: There have been lots of bad polls for Biden lately. But there’s bad, and then there’s the set of numbers published by NBC on Sunday. Where to start? Perhaps with the big headline number: in head-to-head matchups, Biden loses to Trump by five points. (The pair were neck and neck back in September.) And then here’s what voters said when asked who they thought would perform better on a series of issues:

Ouch. The really worrying thing for Biden is that 20-point gap on the economy even with the GDP expanding, inflation cooling, jobs surging, and consumer sentiment finally improving.

And when it comes to the question of mental fitness, Biden didn’t improve matters on Sunday, when he told an anecdote about a G7 meeting in 2020 where he met “Mitterrand from Germany.” François Mitterrand was, of course, French (something Biden corrected) and died in 1996. 

→ Don’t be mean to Dean: Perhaps Team Biden will take some solace from the results in South Carolina over the weekend, where the president won with 96 percent of the vote. Those are North Korean numbers. Pyong-dang, Mr. President! 

Making light of his disastrous loss, long-shot Democratic candidate Dean Phillips posted on X when his vote tally finally exceeded 1,000: “Cracking four digits never felt so good! Congratulations, Mr. President, on a good old fashioned whooping. See you in Michigan.” 

Self-deprecating. Funny. Good stuff. But Biden World couldn’t resist some snark: “My dude, you came third in a one person race,” quipped former White House comms chief Kate Bedingfield. 

At least the Biden crew are finally acknowledging the Minnesota lawmaker’s existence. Dean, you’re living rent-free in their heads. Keep on keeping on, buddy. 

→ From the lake to the lake: Progressives in the Democratic Party, angered by the president’s staunch support of Israel post–October 7, aren’t helping. A new campaign group, called Listen to Michigan, is plotting to upend Biden’s numbers in the state’s primary later this month. Run by Rashida “River to the Sea” Tlaib’s younger sister, Layla Elabed, the group plans to spend $250,000 to persuade voters to check “uncommitted” next to Biden’s name on the ballot.

The anti-Israel left might be good at making a lot of noise—the president’s own speeches have been regularly disrupted in recent weeks—but Biden’s position on Israel is popular with most Americans. The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll finds that 80 percent of voters support Israel in the conflict and that two in three oppose an unconditional cease-fire, and back a cease-fire only once the hostages are released and Hamas is removed from power. In purely electoral terms, Biden is pursuing the least bad option. But collapsing support among progressives and Muslim voters could still leave him unstuck in Michigan. 

→ Christie can’t quit: Did you miss Chris Christie? No? Well, he’s back. The former New Jersey governor is tanned, rested, and ready to get back into the limelight after his quixotic GOP primary bid. In an interview with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos, Christie was asked what he’d say to No Labels, the group readying a third-party challenge to Trump and Biden, if they asked him to be their candidate. “Oh, I don’t know. There’d be a long conversation between me and [my wife] Mary Pat, I can guarantee you that.” In other words: maybe? 

Oliver Wiseman is a senior editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @ollywiseman. And read his recent Free Press piece “Britain Can’t Protect Its Own Government Ministers from Islamists.”

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