What To Expect From A Biden Second Term
Mapping out the range of plausible outcomes if the President wins re-election.
Ever since Biden semi-officially won the Democratic nomination in the spring of 2020, I have periodically thought about an idea—or, to be a bit more accurate, an image. This is the image of President Joe Biden sitting in the White House, as the incumbent President, in January of 2029.
There’s a lot about this image that is evocative to me, but I’ll just go over one fact. By holding office in 2029, Biden will mark his 59th straight calendar year in public life since his election to the New Castle county council in 1970. This would mean that the man who defined the politics of the 2020s, the person who was the President for nearly every year of the decade, will have been someone who began their political career in the ‘60s.
It feels like an impossible scenario. But not only does it stand a good chance of happening, it essentially has to happen—as things stand now, the only alternative to it is a second Trump term. But before Biden gets to the point where he’s stretched out his political career for the longest he possibly can, he’ll have to serve out his second term. Four more years, from 2025 to 2029, for the President to prove whatever point he still thinks needs to be proven.
Although Biden may imagine this second term to be of his making, it won’t be. At least, not entirely. Once the composition of Congress is set, he will have very little agency beyond what the body provides him. Where Biden does have the capacity to shape his own destiny comes in his ability to shape that composition. And his ability here is quite substantial. With down ballot results determined almost entirely by outcomes at the presidential level, Biden will be the one to set his own stage for his potential second term. Assuming he wins in 2024, the exact size of his margin of victory will matter a great deal, far beyond just the usual talk about abstract mandates. It will decide if he will actually have a shot at being the transformative President he reportedly dreams of being, or if he’ll be a lame duck from day one, set for a frozen tenure in the final years of his life.
There are a lot of subtleties here, especially when it comes to the Senate. So, to begin, let’s move away from that and start off with the most possible decisive result: one where Biden wins an absolute rout.
Scenario One: The Brandonslide
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