As President Biden shifts his re-election campaign into higher gear, the strength of his candidacy is being tested by a striking divide between Democratic leaders, who are overwhelmingly unified behind his bid, and rank-and-file voters in the party who harbor persistent doubts about whether he is their best option.
From the highest levels of the party on down, Democratic politicians and party officials have long dismissed the idea that Mr. Biden should have any credible primary challenger. Yet despite their efforts — and the president’s lack of a serious opponent within his party — they have been unable to dispel Democratic concerns about him that center largely on his age and vitality.
The discord between the party’s elite and its voters leaves Democrats confronting a level of disunity over a president running for re-election not seen for decades.
Interviews with more than a dozen strategists, elected officials and voters this past week, conversations with Democrats since Mr. Biden’s campaign began in April, and months of public polling data show that this disconnect has emerged as a defining obstacle for his candidacy, worrying Democrats from liberal enclaves to swing states to the halls of power in Washington. [Continue reading…]