AMAC Exclusive – By Barry Casselman
Establishment wisdom has already decided the 2024 presidential election. This liberal establishment conclusion is that Joe Biden will be the Democrat nominee, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, and in that contest, Mr. Biden will defeat Mr. Trump. That’s it. All done.
In reality, with 18 months before Election Day, none of that is certain.
The Democrat establishment, with its media friends in tow, has decided that a frail and aging first-term president must be renominated despite historically low voter support, and that his even more unpopular vice president should remain on the ticket.
So far, not one of the potential serious Democrat challengers has dared enter the nomination contest. Two less-than-credible challengers have announced they are running: Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Marianne Williamson. Even in the earliest polls, Mr. Biden only leads his primary opponents 60%-20%, with 20% undecided.
The party establishment has also rearranged the traditional primary season calendar so that it heavily favors the Biden-Harris ticket. New Hampshire, the traditional first primary state, was told it had to come later, but it is refusing to play ball, and is saying it will stage its primary first anyway. Mr. Biden, for now, would not even be on the ballot in New Hampshire, although a write-in campaign for him would likely take place. New Hampshire Democrat voters are not happy.
Iowa is traditionally the first caucus state. The Democrat Party establishment has cancelled this early caucus, and made South Carolina, a Biden-friendly state, the first nomination event of its 2024 campaign. If somehow Mr. Biden falters, some prominent Democrats could enter the race. Newt Gingrich suggests that might include Michelle Obama (who has previously declared she is not interested in running for president).
Meanwhile, the Republicans will stick to tradition, contesting both an Iowa caucus and a New Hampshire primary before the South Carolina primary.
As matters stand now, Mr. Biden will almost certainly refuse to debate his primary challengers, Kennedy, Jr. and Williamson, while the numerous Republican candidates will debate frequently on national TV over several months.
The notion that the Democrat electorate is being openly defied and disrespected by its own party leadership — and will thus consequently passively go along with the establishment scenario — is likely a delusion. As first-term Democrat incumbents, Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and Jimmy Carter in 1980 (and Republican first-term incumbent George H.W. Bush in 1992) learned, unhappy primary voters can produce unpleasant surprises in the nomination season, and prevent their re-election. Johnson withdrew after Eugene McCarthy’s showing in New Hampshire; Carter beat Ted Kennedy and Bush beat Pat Buchanan for the nominations, but each lost their re-election in November.
The Democrat establishment thus has good reason to suppress a serious challenge to Mr. Biden, but the president’s age and physical condition, coupled with the negatives of continued inflation, a volatile declining stock market, the southern border crisis, rising urban crime and unrest, the implosion of public education, rising taxes and budget deficits, and other woes, domestic and International, make a smooth and uneventful primary season to be likely wishful thinking.
On the Republican side, it is obviously premature to declare a winner. Donald Trump’s likely most serious challenger, Ron DeSantis, has not even declared his candidacy yet, nor have several other credible Republicans. Mr. Trump’s legal problems, current and future, have not been resolved. Mr. Trump has a big lead in current polls, but polls are not primary vote results. While Mr. DeSantis trails Mr. Trump in current GOP polls, some general election polls show Mr. DeSantis doing better against Mr. Biden or any other Democrat nominee than Mr. Trump does.
It might yet be Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump next November, but such an outcome will almost certainly provoke some third-party candidates who could throw any general election arithmetic into disarray as was the case in 1968, 1992, and 2000.
With each party almost certain to win about 225 electoral votes in November, the winner of the decisive remaining electoral votes in 2024 is far from certain, no matter who the major party nominees are next year.
It’s not done yet.