Despite recent polls showing that a majority of Democrats do not want President Joe Biden to run again, he remains undeterred and determined to seek re-election. However, history has shown that past presidents have reconsidered their bids for re-election, even later in the election cycle than we currently are.
One example is Theodore Roosevelt, who, after winning the presidency in his own right, announced that he would not seek another term. However, as his second term progressed, he began considering potential successors, eventually endorsing his friend and Secretary of War, William Howard Taft, as his preferred candidate. Roosevelt’s indecision and reluctance to publicly support Taft caused tension within the Republican Party and ultimately led to a split, with Roosevelt running as a third-party candidate and allowing Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt also faced the decision of whether to run again in 1940 and 1944. In both instances, he initially considered stepping down due to exhaustion and health concerns. However, the outbreak of World War II in 1940 and the absence of a suitable Democratic candidate in 1944 led him to seek re-election.
Other presidents, such as Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson, also grappled with the decision of whether to run again. Truman had initially decided not to seek re-election in 1952, but when his name was placed on the ballot for the New Hampshire primary, he did not have it removed. After losing the primary, he announced that he would not seek re-election. Eisenhower, concerned about his health, deliberated over whether to run again but ultimately decided to seek another term. Johnson also had doubts about running again, but he allowed his name to remain on the ballot in the New Hampshire primary before announcing that he would not seek re-election after a poor showing.
Given this historical context, it remains to be seen whether Biden will stick to his decision to run again. The dissatisfaction among Democrats and the possibility of other strong candidates emerging in the field may influence his ultimate decision. Additionally, the question of his vice president, Kamala Harris, and her potential succession to the presidency could factor into his decision-making process. While Biden has already announced his candidacy, history has shown that it’s not too late to reconsider.