One CNN commentator’s math on debate night does not add up

Political commentators were nearly in harmony in their criticism of President Joe Biden’s debate performance last Thursday evening, with the only split seeming to be in the necessity and feasibility of moving forward to replace the presumptive nominee this summer.

Some commentators and hosts went further stating they had spoken to or heard from Democratic Party officials and officeholders that evening who had sounded the alarm and were hoping such a change would take place.

Almost all of these sources, however, were not on the record.

In fact, several prominent Democrats have since gone on public record to say they still back President Biden being their party’s standard bearer in the November election (e.g. Nancy Pelosi, Hakeem Jeffries, John Fetterman).

So how big was the call to remove Biden after Thursday’s debate?

Conservative CNN political commentator David Urban, a former Donald Trump campaign adviser, asserted the following claim immediately after the debate:

“I’ve heard from leading Democrats across the United States – elected governors, congressmen – who are texting me and saying, I’m worried I’m going to lose if Joe Biden’s at the top of the ticket.”

While it is understandable many Democrats might be in panic mode, and few would claim Biden had a good night, Urban’s statement does not quite check out.

There are only three Democratic Governors in states holding elections for its top statewide office this November.

Two of those governors are term-limited: John Carney of Delaware and Roy Cooper of North Carolina.

The third governor, Jay Inslee of Washington, is retiring after his third term.

Clearly, none of these governors spoke to or texted Urban and said they are afraid they can’t win with Biden as the presidential nominee.

[It should be noted that Carney, Cooper, and Inslee are also not on the ballot for any elected office this cycle].

Perhaps Urban did hear from members of the U.S. Congress who expressed such sentiments about Biden that evening.

This was, of course, the reason for Minnesota U.S. Representative Dean Phillips’ presidential campaign (and he convinced Democrats in two counties of his case).

But Urban’s statement taken as a whole suggests it was at least somewhat exaggerated to stress his overall point that President Biden had a poor performance in the debate.

 Follow Smart Politics on X/Twitter.


  1. Flickertail-Pembina on June 30, 2024 at 1:19 pm

    – David Urban does not deserve his appearance fees on CNN, with his bloviations and factually-challenged declarations which are easily disprovable (especially by Eric).

    – (Unrelated) MO Congress Member Cori Bush seems on the brink of joining the so-called *primary-in-primary-out* club; Bush defeated Lacy Clay in the 2020 D primary election – the same year as the outgoing Jamaal Bowman, who defeated fellow Democrat Eliot Engel in NY. Most of these instances have involved malfeasance or serious allegations of misconduct in office, though some have involved redistricting, personal scandals, or ideological divides.

    – Among senators, I can come up with but a single clear-cut example – that of “Mike” Gravel of AK, who defeated inaugural senator Ernest Gruening in 1968 in the Democratic primary election, only to be defeated himself in the 1980 Democratic primary election by Clark Gruening, a grandson of Ernest.

  2. Daniel Fox on June 30, 2024 at 7:07 pm

    Seems unlikely that all these elected Democrats would be telling their troubles to a former Trump advisor in the first place.

  3. Daniel Fox on June 30, 2024 at 7:16 pm

    Incidentally, Gov. Carney is going to be on the ballot this cycle — he’s running for mayor of Wiimington.

    However, I’m not sure the GOP has a mayoral candidate, so if Carney wins the primary he may be unopposed in November. Which is just as good, I guess.

  4. John Chessant on July 4, 2024 at 12:07 pm

    Other U.S. senators in the “primary in, primary out” club include:
    *J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.): defeated Hattie Caraway in 1944, defeated by Dale Bumpers in 1974
    *Donald W. Stewart (D-Ala.): defeated Maryon Pittman Allen in 1978, defeated by “Little Jim” Folsom in 1980

    John Carney would be the first governor-turned-mayor since Douglas Wilder of Richmond, Va. (gov. 1990-94, mayor 2005-09). Would he be the first *incumbent* governor to be elected mayor? The closest among those from the last time we were on this topic is Charles W. Bryan of Lincoln, Neb. (gov. 1923-25 & 1931-35, mayor 1915-17 & 1935-37). However, Bryan did not run for mayor as an incumbent governor; he in fact ran unsuccessfully for U.S. senator in 1934, and was then elected mayor in 1935 after leaving office as governor. (Also, the office of mayor was not popularly elected at the time.)

    Would Carney resign the last two weeks of his term as governor ending on Jan. 21, 2025 to take office as mayor on Jan. 7, 2025? Of course, this would be somewhat less salient if Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long wins the concurrent gubernatorial election.

    Happy 4th!

    • John Chessant on July 4, 2024 at 12:22 pm

      which would call to mind the Tom Carper -> Ruth Ann Minner transition in 2001, scheduled for Jan. 16, 2001 but which actually took place on Jan. 3, 2001 since Gov. Carper was elected to the U.S. Senate and Lt. Gov. Minner was elected governor.

      Eight years earlier, Mike Castle and Tom Carper switched their offices of governor and at-large U.S. representative, leaving Dale E. Wolf to serve as governor from Dec. 31, 1992 to Jan. 19, 1993.

      In 1960, David P. Buckson briefly ascended to the governorship when J. Caleb Boggs resigned to become U.S. senator (Boggs is of course primarily remembered today as the incumbent senator defeated by Joe Biden in 1972). Buckson had run for governor in 1960 and lost in the primary, nevertheless served from Dec. 30, 1960 to Jan. 17, 1961; he then served two terms as state attorney-general from 1963 to 1971.

  5. Cecil Crusher on July 11, 2024 at 3:51 am

    – The junior senator from the Green Mountain State, Peter Francis Welch, has become the very first US senator to publicly call for “46” to stand down.

    – As of this writing, I am not aware of any current state-level officeholder – whether in executive branch or partisan state supreme court (Democratic member) – calling on ‘POTUS 46’ to retire; governors, in particular, have been a pillar of his support thus far, along with Black incumbents and labor union leaders.

    – However this matter is finally resolved, John Calvin Coolidge (of VT and MA) would still be the most recent incumbent president not to seek an additional term *from the outset* (“I do not choose to run for president in 1928”); should ‘BFD Joe’ Biden reverse course and stand down, this cycle in a sense will have two presidential races, this go-round between the Felon with Smallish Hands and whomever the Democrats end up nominating [the first contest of the 1968 cycle was arguably between one full-term incumbent “Landslide Lyndon” Johnson (Democrat/TX) and frontrunner “Tricky Dick” Nixon (Republican/New York), which abruptly ended with the dramatic withdrawal announcement by Johnson)].

Leave a Comment