In "whispers" and "furtive phone calls," top Democratic donors and officials are saying that "President Joe Biden won't actually be running for reelection," CNN reported Thursday.
Those Democrats are talking to "possible replacement presidential candidates," according to the report, and urging them to "get ready." They say that "time is already running out" for Biden, who has officially announced his candidacy but hasn't named a campaign finance director, hired any on-the-ground staff in competitive states, or even opened a campaign headquarters.
What CNN called the "persistent sense" that Biden isn't running will likely heighten on Saturday, when the president is required to disclose the fundraising for the first few months of his campaign. It's already clear, the report found, that "multiple big donors aren't locking in," while "grassroots emails are sometimes bringing in just a few thousand dollars."
"Almost two dozen current Biden aides, top Democratic operatives and donors, and alumni of other recent campaigns" are worried about the Biden reelection campaign, CNN reported.
Biden's polling numbers, which have been underwater for two years, in June hit an all-time low of 35 percent. Nearly 60 percent of Democrats say they want the party to run another candidate, a Washington Post poll found in April.
Recent polls have found Biden either running even with or losing to Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, according to FiveThirtyEight.
The president's unpopularity has led some Democrats to embrace primary opponent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has consistently polled at around 20 percent against Biden. Kennedy's candidacy was bolstered last month by an Economist/YouGov poll that showed him with a net 19-point favorability rating. Biden, by contrast, has a net 9-point unfavorability rating.
Democrats' rush to find alternatives to Biden comes as the party seeks to avoid running Vice President Kamala Harris, whose poll numbers are even lower than Biden's. "Kamala Harris can't win" a general election, one Capitol Hill Democrat told New York magazine last year. Another alternative, California governor Gavin Newsom, is dead-set on running if Biden bows out, sources close to Newsom told the Wrap last year. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, have already launched or relaunched super PACs.
The president could also face a challenge from Democratic senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who has not ruled out a third-party presidential bid. The centrist group "No Labels" is floating Manchin as its candidate, the Washington Free Beacon reported.