Opinion Will Biden run for president again? 12 of our columnists have the answer.

Placeholder while article actions load

Last week, the esteemed panelists of the Post Pundit Power Ranking put their heads together to determine whether Donald Trump would run for president again. Now, they’re answering the logical next question: Will the president run for president again?

A first-term president generally gives things another go, of course — incumbent advantage and all that. But things are trickier with Joe Biden. First off, age is on everybody’s mind. Biden would be an octogenarian in his second term, and it’s not as if being president is like playing bridge, or gardening, or serving as a U.S. senator.

That’s not the only consideration, though. Read on to see what else our columnists think might hold Biden back — or what might push him right into the race.

Christine Emba: YES.

So far, at least, Biden has been signaling heavily that he plans to run again. Is it a good idea? Probably not, for a variety of reasons — his sinking approval ratings and rising years spring to mind. But never underestimate the self-confidence of a politician, even one as comparatively even-keeled as Joe.

Hugh Hewitt: NO.

It is hard to imagine that Biden or anyone close to him — much less a plurality of Democratic Party voters — will think he is up to another four years of the most difficult job in the world at 81, which he would be on Election Day 2024, or at 82, which he would be when sworn in for a second term if he won the Democratic nomination (unlikely) and then the election (even more unlikely). Pretty much everyone already knows it, too, including his family and staff, and Democratic leaders in Congress and across the states. The president has had a long run on the national stage, beginning with his election to the Senate in 1972. It is time to pass the torch to a new generation.

Molly Roberts: YES.

He’s certainly no spring chicken, but he’s also not dead yet. Maybe the president could be coaxed into an early retirement if there were an obvious successor with a solid chance of beating Trump, but the only real option is Vice President Harris — or a divisive primary that could leave the winner weak.

Eugene Robinson: NO.

I have to be consistent, and I believe Biden definitely runs only if Trump runs, and I said last week I thought Trump would pretend to run but not actually go through with it. With Trump on the sidelines, I think Biden decides that his mission — protecting the nation from four more years of Trump — is accomplished. Given the state of the world, what sane person (especially at his age) would want a second term of abuse and ingratitude?

Greg Sargent: NO.

Gene is right: The urgency of defeating the threat of a second Trump term pushed Biden into the race last time; when Trump declines to run in 2024, Biden can tell himself he completed that mission and retire with dignity. Plus, the don’t-run drumbeat inside the Democratic Party has already started at an extraordinarily early date. With a GOP primary likely to produce a young, energetic nominee, the demand for a youthful Democratic standard-bearer will only grow louder.

Karen Tumulty: YES.

Personally, I don’t understand why ANY president runs for a second term. Being an ex-president looks like a lot more fun: speaking fees! book deals! building a shrine to yourself presidential library! traveling like a potentate! I would want to get to that part as soon as I could. But Biden will probably be like most presidents, and have to be convinced that he can’t win before he would consider pulling an LBJ.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: NO.

This goes against the signals Bidenland is sending, and if Trump runs, Biden will think he’s the one guy who can beat him. But the president is a political realist. He wants Democrats to hold the White House. He’ll turn 82 shortly after the 2024 election and knows in his gut that his age will be an obstacle for many voters. Even with just four years in office, history will remember him kindly for saving the country from a dangerous second Trump term. And voters may listen more attentively to him if he’s not seeking their votes. It’s that moment when a politician magically becomes “a statesman.”

James Hohmann: YES.

No one spends half a century trying to become president only to give up the job after one term. If Biden chooses not to run, what he becomes is a lame duck. Yes, he continues to believe he’s his party’s best hope to keep Trump out of the White House. But I feel less certain than a few months ago that he’ll seek reelection. The midterms will be a disaster for Democrats, and that will increase pressure on him to step aside. He’ll have to decide whether he’s going all in for 2024 by next spring, when the economy is expected to be in bad shape. There have been subtle signals he might choose to stand aside, but I bet he goes for it. He loves being president and wants to remain the man in the arena.

Gary Abernathy: YES.

If predictions are true and Republicans steamroll the 2022 midterms, Biden will actually find himself in an improved position entering 2024, just as happened with Bill Clinton going into the 1996 election following the ’94 GOP tsunami. Biden’s age notwithstanding — and assuming no drastic health events — voluntarily surrendering the presidency is something few can bring themselves to do. Biden wants to be remembered as more than a caretaker who presided over an awful economy. His ego may pale next to Trump’s, but, like those of most politicians, it’s big enough to keep him in the game.

Jennifer Rubin: YES.

As soon as he decides not to run, his presidency is essentially over. Moreover, his announcement not to run would make Harris the front-runner, a possibility that makes many Democratic insiders, donors and voters queasy, given her own polling and reputational problems, deserved or not. At the very least, Biden’s decision not to run would set off a tumultuous fight for the nomination, obliterating much hope of accomplishing any more of his agenda.

Megan McArdle: YES.

It’s hard for me to see Biden deciding to pull out. Not only would it be a tremendous ego blow, but it would set the party up for a bruising fight with Harris, who underwhelmed in the Democratic primary last time around and hasn’t much improved her political skills since then. There remains, of course, the risk of a serious health event, which can neither be predicted nor ruled out.

Jonathan Capehart: YES.

President Biden will run again. I go back to my interview with him in South Carolina in 2019. The Post had just broken a story about inconsistencies in an anecdote he was fond of retelling. This story fed the narrative that Biden was too old, not all there. I asked him how he would keep the age narrative from damaging his campaign. “Well, I can only break out of it when I win,” Biden said. He won, and still faces that narrative as president. Thus, a run for reelection would be about breaking that narrative again — and completing the work he started.


Okay, so, YES by a length! At 8 to 4, our pundits are more bullish on Biden’s electoral tenacity than Trump’s — though there remains some wiggle room for doubt.

So who else could wiggle in if the unexpected happens? Stay tuned: The Post Pundit Power Ranking just might answer that question, too.