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‘Here’s The Issue’: MSNBC Data Guru Lays Out Obstacles To Dems Replacing Biden

MSNBC data expert Steve Kornacki said Democrats have a lot of hurdles to overcome when it comes to voting Friday to decide who will replace President Joe Biden.

Democrats are considering how to choose a successor to Biden following the president's gaffe-riddled performance Thursday night during a 90-minute debate moderated by CNN hosts Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Kornacki noted that each of Biden's potential successors, including Vice President Kamala Harris, has their own issues. (Related: 'A monumental conundrum': Paul Begala warns of 'career-ending' spree as first Democratic politician to call for Biden's resignation)

“That then raises the question of who would be the president if not Biden,” Kornacki told MSNBC host Chris Jansing. “That's where it gets really complicated. If the president leaves office, the logical place to look is Vice President Kamala Harris. She's run for president before. She has presidential ambitions.”

“The question is this: She's very well known,” Kornacki continued. “Here's her favorability and unpopularity in two recent polls. Frankly, compared to Biden, in the Fox News poll, she's at 41% favorability. In that same poll, Joe Biden is at 44% and she's three points lower. In the Economist/YouGov poll, Joe Biden is at 39% and she's at 37%. So if you're looking at the vice president, you have to ask yourself: 'If you're a Democrat, does that actually put you at an advantage politically?' If you answer no, then the question becomes: 'Would you agree to Kamala Harris stepping aside as well and putting up a new candidate, or would she fight that?'”


Kornacki then looked into other potential replacements, including Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, but noted they were less well known.

“It's about status. Can we nominate someone of any status that Democrats can agree on and that they can quickly come to terms with, and that the public probably knows,” Kornacki said. “There aren't a lot of polls on names you hear. This was done by Ipsos for an interest group. There are a lot of names you want to test, but these are the three that have been tested in the poll. Pete Buttigieg, 30 favorable, 28 unfavorable. Many people don't know him yet. Gavin Newsom, look. Nearly half the public has no opinion of him, but even among those who do, it's already a double-digit minus. With Gretchen Whitmer, the majority have no opinion of her, 17-17 among those who do.”

“Then there are the names you've already heard – Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar – but that's outside of nationally known names like Biden and Harris,” Kornacki continued. “There are a lot of people, but there are question marks. Democrats may be counting on someone nationally talented like Gretchen Whitmer, but that's a big question mark. How will she be received by the public? And will that deter Democrats?”

Kornacki said there was one popular and well-known figure in Democratic politics, but he also had problems. (RELATED: 'No excuses': Mika Brzezinski says she 'knew something was wrong' when Biden stumbled on stage)

“Are there any Democrats who have the national recognition and popularity to quickly unite the party against Trump,” Kornacki said. “We're looking for names. We've heard this name a lot, but there's been no indication that she's interested. But just to give you an idea, the last time we asked people if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Michelle Obama, a few years ago, 57% favored her and only 25% unfavorable. So that's the kind of profile you want in terms of being widely known and more than twice as popular in the polls as the unfavorable ones. Maybe Democrats would like that profile. But I don't know where else you're going to find one, Chris, other than Michelle Obama.”

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