AMAC Exclusive – By Barry Casselman
It is mostly guesswork to speculate about U.S. politics past November 2022, but it would seem that both major political parties will face a showdown crisis between their own internal factions as they prepare to contest the 2024 presidential election.
The results of the 2022 national midterm elections, already shaping up to be an epic electoral event, will provide the impetus for those internal confrontations. If Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress, the struggle will be about Donald Trump more than ideology — as the battle for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination goes into full swing. As Michael Barone put it so aptly, the party is Trumpist, but not necessarily Trump’s.
The internal struggle for the Democrats will likely be much more complicated. If the party loses control of Congress, as now seems quite possible, much of the blame will be placed on President Joe Biden and his so far feckless administration. If he does not then voluntarily retire (a historically rare event), he would almost certainly be challenged from both his left and right — much as President Harry Truman was in 1948. (Former Vice President Henry Wallace challenged Truman on the left, and South Carolina U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond on the right. Truman defeated Republican Thomas Dewey in spite of this.) Joe Biden, however, has not the energy, charisma or grassroots appeal of a Harry Truman to overcome serious internal opposition. His current approval ratings, already down to the mid-to-upper 30s (as are the poll numbers of his vice president, Kamala Harris) would likely mean new names on the 2024 ticket.
With a successful 2022 midterm providing momentum, and a very large “bench” of successful GOP governors, senators, and recent former office holders and cabinet members, the Republican Party, barring the unforeseen, would head for November 2024 as heavy favorites, but first the GOP has to secure a successful mid-term result — not yet a certainty with five months to go.
The Democratic “bench,” as many have observed, consists mainly of older, more radical figures like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and a few younger figures such as Pete Buttigieg and Gavin Newsom, but none so far who seem likely able to replace Joe Biden only two years from now. Any new Democratic figure who wins a governorship in a GOP wave in 2022 might become a contender.
The GOP presidential wannabes include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin — and more. But for now, Donald Trump is the presumptive favorite if he decides to run.
Mr. Trump is currently participating in the 2022 midterm elections by endorsing and campaigning for gubernatorial and U.S. House and Senate candidates in several states — most of whom have been Trump supporters in the past. He has taken particular aim at his past critics in the party. So far, most of his endorsees have won, but some of his targets have won despite his opposition to them. The net effect of this strategy will be clearer in November.
Economic conditions and domestic crises will, as they almost always are, be critical in the 2024 election cycle, and will enable voters to make their choices from the likely large number of candidates. Candidates with experience and bold ideas on the critical issues might have some advantage if there are very many candidates in the field, as there were in both parties in 2016.
Public attitudes and any new voter priorities resulting from the recent pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the U.S. border crisis, and a potential summer economic recession should not be ignored nor glossed over.
The 2024 presidential race is going to begin early, and it is likely to be an epic, noisy, and transformative contest.
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