Here are my thoughts and predictions for the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election:
It’s going to be close and intense. I am very confident about this prediction. The era of either side occasionally nominating sub-par candidates who stand in as token opposition and are expected to lose, such as Dole, Romney, Mondale, etc.–is over. The political process or machine has become increasingly optimized in terms of the candidate selection process and campaigning. Elections are much higher stakes, which means much more intense campaigning and a more rigorous nominee selection process. Part of this can be explained by simply the fact that the US economy is bigger compared to decades ago, so it logically follows that campaigning and spending should match too, but also the stakes seem higher. The culture wars have grown to consume our everyday lives. It’s not so much about who will do a better job running the country, but whose values are more aligned with my own?
Candidates, especially on the right, are selected to be charismatic and play to the populist base, as epitomized by Trump. For the left, seniority and name recognition are paramount, such as Biden or Hillary. Freddie, however, argues that Hillary was a sub-optimal candidate; maybe, we will never know. Sanders’ poor performance in the 2020 primaries suggests he may have not been cut out for the job or would have fared worse in a general election. One would assume that after four years of Trump, his left-wing economic message would have been more popular, not less, yet is was ‘status quo’ Biden who delivered a record 81 million votes for 2020.
However, Biden’s incumbency is of little help given his poor approval ratings, at just 40%. Historically, low unemployment and a strong stock market is considered to be good for the incumbent, but this has not been the case with Biden, as he’s being blamed for high inflation. It does not help that he has lost control the narrative, such as on Twitter, in which commentary has become overwhelmingly negative. Some of the biggest and most prominent accounts on Twitter are strongly anti-Biden, which are algorithmically promoted and recommended to Twitter’s huge userbase. Content that casts him in a negative light often goes viral, such as footage of him falling. This again affirms my point of how democratic-elites relinquishing Twitter was an unforced strategic error that will cost them for years to come, including possibly in 2024. Selling Twitter to Musk is like CNN selling itself to Fox News.
Additionally, many of Biden’s voters seem disinclined to want to want to rush to his defense or support. By comparison during Jan 6th Capital Protests some Trump supporters literally died or faced years of jail time in a display of support their candidate, of the likes never before seen for a U.S. politician. Support for Biden is more perfunctory or out of duty, as being a vote against Trump than an endorsement of Biden per se.
Similar to 2016 and 2020, owing to Biden’s general unpopularity and Trump’s huge brand, the outcome will be close in terms of the Electoral College even if Biden still handily wins the popular vote. Due to the results being so close in certain key states and the perceived susceptibility of the system to tampering, foul play will be blamed, like allegations by Hillary voters of Russian interference in 2016, or accusations by Trump voters of election fraud in 2020. If elections were not so close, like in 1984 or 1996, this would not be as big of a problem, but closer elections means that refereeing becomes more important, and the losing side is more inclined to blame foul play and the ‘democratic process’ bring broken, than accepting the outcome as representing the will or voice of the people.
The battlelines are drawn. In light of Covid, Palestine-Israel upheaval, wokeness, and the highest inflation since the ’70s–in terms of the electorate–I posit nothing has changed between 2016 and now. Even after endless articles by the media deploring Trump and his supporters, those who supported Trump in 2016 support him now. Few, if any, of his earlier supporters has disavowed him for being ‘too extreme’, for Jan 6th, or for his supposed mishandling of Covid. If anything, both sides have become more entrenched in their views. Those who support DeSantis or others will not defect or ‘sit it out’, but will dutifully vote for Trump.
Trump is the surefire nominee; all he has to do is stay out of jail, which is why I have not followed the GOP primaries much. I don’t think the ‘deep state’ can do anything about it. To arrest Trump and preclude him from running would be too obvious and would cause a sort of panic or upheaval that would draw undue attention to the scheme–like Jan 6th but worse. I remember a year ago DeSantis seemed like he could overtake Trump, as he had built momentum with his anti-woke Disney stance and had built a reputation as an anti-lockdown hardliner in Florida during Covid, but then it all fell apart. The ‘coolness’ of Trump could not be matched, compared to the sort of forced awkwardness of DeSantis, who despite his rhetoric still came off as just another politician. Richard Hanania put it well that trying to ‘out-Trump Trump’ backfires. You cannot one-up him on immigration or on wokeness; you have to try something else.