With his formal announcement, Joe Biden appears to
have locked up his renomination as the Democratic
nominee for president in 2024. With his current big lead
in the polls, Donald Trump appears now to be the likely
nominee for his Republican Party for president in 2024..
Considering the negatives in public opinion for the
re-election of the Biden-Harris ticket or for a comeback
win by a Trump-led ticket, it seems that the current
conventional wisdom that next year will see a replay
of 2020 is a defiance of common sense and political
I would suggest that, far from any certainty, both races
for the presidential nomination are far from over.
On the Democratic side, we have likely not seen the
end of the challenge to the frail and rapidly aging
president. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is not going to be the
Democrat who defeats him, but the Kennedy scion’s
growing appeal, like Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 challenge
to Lyndon Johnson, mighy lead to a delayed entrance
of at least one or more conventional Biden challengers.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump’s current lead in
the polls is almost certainly the result of his recent legal
indictment, and the fact that his major GOP rival, Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis, has not yet announced his
candidacy. While Trump currently leads DeSantis among
Republicans in most national and state polls, those same
polls show DeSantis doing better than Trump against
Biden in almost every case. This curious divergence
suggests that DeSantis is the stronger GOP nominee
against a Democrat in 2024.
In addition to the major party campaigns, the weakness
of the frontrunning candidates, and the widespread
economic and international uncertainty, makes it very
likely that serious third party candidacies could soon
emerge. A centrist “No Labels Party” effort is already
underway, and it could easily attract well-known
figures if one or both parties seem unusually vulnerable
in the November, 2024 campaign.
Governor DeSantis, now on his obligatory international
tour that includes Japan, Great Britain and Israel, is the
most serious potential Republican challenger, but his
timetable for entrance into the race has narrowed with
the first debates only months away. There are already
some credible other figures in the GOP race, but the
political reality is that only Mr. DeSantis could defeat
Mr. Trump in the upcoming primary campaign contests.
Although the obvious political nature of the timing of the
New York indictment of Mr. Trump has rallied Republicans
to his side for now, it is not at all clear this and his other
looming legal problems will sustain support for him.
Every public opinion poll indicates that voters of both
major parties, and independent voters, want younger and
less controversial choices than Biden and Trump. By
keeping Kamala Harris as his running mate, the president
is also offering voters a choice even more unpopular than
he is, and who has been decidedly unimpressive as vice
president so far.
Perhaps, after all, it will be Biden vs. Trump next year.
But public dissatisfaction with that prospect is so great
that the possibility of surprise in one or both parties’
tickets is higher than any presidential cycle in memory,
This presidential nomination campaign cycle has just begun.
Copyright (c) 2023 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.