May 17, 2023

Here are voters’ apparent options for 2024. Choose a 4-year Trump rerun with the accompanying polarization, political chaos and cable news media blathering. Or choose another 4 years of Biden-Harris with the accompanying incompetence, political and economic chaos, ongoing migrant influx and questions about the president’s cognitive capacity.

Without question, Donald Trump, age 76,  is a greedy, narcissistic megalomaniac and an obvious sociopath  A sociopath is defined as a person who knows not right from wrong, nor true from false, says and does only what is beneficial for oneself and cares not about the damage done to others. That fits.

Without question, Joe Biden, age 80, is beginning to show his age. Every minute a “senior moment” is imminent. Biden boldly proclaimed in 2020 that he would be a “transformative” president. In that he failed. If there is a 2025-28 term, Biden would be a “degenerative” president. There would be a non-stop U.S. and worldwide Kamala Harris Watch, the question being when she becomes president, not if.

Based upon Harris’s performance as vice-president, that succession would range somewhere between disastrous and apocalyptic.

Too bad we can’t just fast-forward to 2028 and be done with this. Reminds me of a stanza from the long-forgotten song “America the Beautiful” which celebrates the country “from sea to shining sea” and asks “may God shed His grace on thee.” That seems unlikely in 2024.

POLLS ARE MEANINGLESS: Biden’s job approval is mired in the low 40s. A late April ABC/ Washington Post poll put it at 36 percent. A May 5 Daily Kos/Civiqs poll put his approve/disapprove rating at 38/54, a May 10 Reuters/Ipsos poll put it at 40/54, and a May 15 Rasmussen poll put it at 42/56. Those are poor numbers, largely attributable to Americans’ dissatisfaction with the status quo.

In Biden-Trump matchups Biden fares a bit better, largely because Americans’ distaste for the status quo ante (2017-20) slightly exceeds that with Biden’s tenure. A May 10 Yahoo News poll had Biden winning 45/43, a May 7 ABC/Washington Post poll had Trump winning 45/39, and a May 3 Economist/YouGov poll had it tied at 46/46. Note that these (and all other) polls take a nationwide sample, which purports to show national sentiment.

Presidential elections are won in the Electoral College, not by popular vote. It should be remembered that the 2020 Biden/Trump popular vote was 81,283,501-74,223,975, a 51.3-46.8 percent breakout, with an electoral vote (EV) of 306-232 There is little doubt that Trump, if nominated, will get close to his 74 mil, which is his floor. The Trump base is sort of exhausted, and increasingly exasperated with Trump’s numerous and sordid legal travails – which include a 34-count NYC indictment for using campaign funds to pay hush money to a porn star, ongoing investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection and classified documents by DOJ and election tampering in GA by an Atlanta DA, and a recent $5 million civil judgment for an alleged sexual assault in the 1990s.

Anybody else – think of Gary Hart, Al Franken, Elliott Spitzer, Andrew Cuomo (but not Bill Clinton) – would be total toast. It’s all a “conspiracy” to Trumpsters. And they will fervently back him against Biden.

There is considerable doubt that Biden can replicate his 81,283,501vote, which is his ceiling, in 2024. Biden won in 2020 because the anti-Trump base was bigger. Will it turn out again? Or just not vote? Or some even defect to Trump? There is no enthusiasm among that base, particularly younger Woke/Leftists, for a second Biden term. In fact, some may view a Trump win as an opportunity to remake the Democratic Party, sweep out the geezers, win in 2028 and then “transform” America into, oh I don’t know, a socialist utopia.

A bunch of more mainstream Democrats, like governors Gavin Newsom (CA), JB Pritzker (IL) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI), are also eyeing 2028. Their prospects would be complicated if Harris was then president, but enhanced if Trump was in the office. (The Constitution bars any person from serving more than two full terms, or 8 years, as president in their lifetime. Trump would be termed-out in 2028. If elected, Trump could really let it rip.) 

The premise of Biden’s 2024 campaign is that he’s still and always will be less worse than Trump, not that he deserves re-election. The premise of the ex-president’s campaign is that if it were not for election “irregularities” and COVID he would have gotten a second term.

DEMOCRATIC FIELD: No Democratic heavyweight has dared to challenge Biden’s re-nomination. They’re all waiting for 2028. Nor is there any likelihood that Harris will be dumped as VP. In a party driven by identity politics, not merit or competence, he would need to find another Black woman of equal stature (like Michelle Obama). That won’t happen.

Two other Democrats have announced: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson.  A May 9 Rasmussen poll had Biden up 62/19/4. But Kennedy, with his still-famous name, could draw some protest votes. If he gets into the 35-40 percent range, that signals major Biden weakness.
REPUBLICAN FIELD: It’s essentially Trump or Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor has yet to announce, but Trump is already bashing him in TV ads. DeSantis won renown among conservatives for resisting COVID shutdowns of schools, businesses, resorts, restaurants, bars and beaches in what he called the “Free State of Florida,” and paid special attention to seniors. Florida, of course, was bashed by the Left media as a “killing field.”

But DeSantis’s policies were proven wise and Floridians re-elected him in 2022 by a staggering 1.5 million-vote majority. As governor DeSantis has enacted an abortion ban after 6 weeks (with exceptions), allowed concealed handgun carry without a permit, restricted “critical race” classroom curriculum and trans-gender civil rights, expanded taxpayer funding for private schools, sent incoming migrants to “welcoming cities,” and limited the ability to sue insurance companies. He’s done what many conservatives dreams of.

But Trump remains a suffocating presence. The 538 website shows Trump leading DeSantis by a 49.3-26.2 percent average in polls since January. Early May polling showed Trump up 70/17 in KY, 44/26 in IA, 49/21 in AZ, 57/25 in TN and 40/34 in DeSantis’s home FL. DeSantis has room to grow, but he must announce by June.

There are four distinct Republican factions: The Christian evangelicals (social-issue conservatives), the Libertarians, the Bush/Romney establishment (“country club” conservatives) and the Trump populists, mostly working-class types who despise Woke/Leftism and the Democrats who preach it. The first three combined are equal in number to the Trumpsters. DeSantis’s task is to (1) unite them by convincing them he is a WINNER over Biden and (2) peel off a third of the Trumpsters by convincing them that he is also a Trump populist but that Trump is a LOSER against Biden. It can be done.

EARLY PRIMARIES: The IA caucus is on Jan. 22, followed by the NH primary on Jan. 30, NV on Feb. 6, and SC on Feb. 24 (R) and March 2 (D). If Trump or Biden lose or fare poorly in the First Four their campaign will be damaged. Then comes Super Tuesday (March 5) with 14 primaries. By then the nominating race will be over.

WILL CONGRESS FLIP? The prevailing presumption, which DeSantis is hyping, is that a Trump nomination will cost Republicans control of the U.S. House, where they have a 5-seat 222-213 majority. A massive Trump loss in CA and NY could wipe out 5-8 Republican seats. Democrats have targeted 31 Republican-held districts. But paradoxically, it might not matter, as Republicans look poised to win the U.S. Senate, which is now 51D-49R, next year. So the current 2023-24 gridlock will continue into 2025-26, regardless of who’s president.

33 senators are up in 2024 – 10R, 20D and 3 independents (from VT, ME and AZ), who vote with Democrats to organize the chamber and control all committee chairs. Republicans need a net gain of two and are top-tier targeting incumbents (D) in WV, MT, OH and AZ, and to a lesser extent in NV, WI and PA. Democrats will be on defense. The only Republicans remotely at risk are in FL and TX.

Two races peak interest: In West Virginia, which Trump won with 68.6 percent in 2020, popular governor Jim Justice (R) just announced a senate run against Joe Manchin (D), who won fame and Leftist revulsion for opposing some of Biden’s 2021-22 agenda. At that time the Senate was 50D/50R. Polls show Justice well ahead of Manchin, who will disclose his 2024 intentions in December. Don’t be surprised if, at age 77 next year, he retires. WV is a certain Republican pickup.

In Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) was a similar Biden dissident and she so enraged the party’s “progressive” base that congressman Ruben Gallago (D) launched a primary challenge late last year. In response, knowing she would lose the primary, Sinema switched from Democrat to independent (but not to Republican). She has not disclosed her 2024 plans. In a 3-way race Gallago is the narrow winner, with Sinema under 20 percent.

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