Yes, the 2024 Election Will Be Very Close
Trump could win and then go to prison
A few quick updates—
In the upcoming print issue of the New Republic, I have a big feature on the past, present, and future of socialism in the United States. It’s online today. Have a read!
Never again will the media and the Democratic establishment exude the world-historical hubris of 2016, when it was assumed Donald Trump winning the presidency was about as likely as another asteroid barreling into the Yucatán Peninsula. Barack Obama has already met nervously with Joe Biden to warn him about Trump’s chances in 2024. It’s too early for head-to-head polls, but the New York Times and Siena College show a dead heat in a Trump-Biden rematch. The headline about the poll is perfectly calibrated for the newspaper’s liberal readership: “Can the Race Really Be That Close?”
To the credit of the Times’ Nate Cohn, the answer is spelled out very plainly. Despite Trump’s three indictments and his glaring drawbacks as a Republican standard bearer, he is poised to rapidly consolidate Republican voters behind him—even those who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about nominating a man who might be sitting in a prison cell in a few years. Biden has been, on the merits, a fairly successful president, overseeing enormous investments in infrastructure and green energy. The Biden administration, governing with a much weaker hand, arguably accomplished more in one term than Obama ever did. Come next year, Biden will have genuine policy victories to tout on the campaign trail.
But Democratic elites and pundits can’t ignore the obvious any longer: Biden is very old, and acts like it. He gives few one-on-one interviews and appears much frailer than he did during the Obama years, when he could be counted on as the president’s boisterous, loose-lipped sidekick. It was Biden, as vice president, who debated Paul Ryan well enough to buoy the ticket in a crucial stretch of the 2012 campaign. Such a moment would be unimaginable today. Biden will turn 82 shortly after the 2024 election and he will not benefit from the same circumstances as 2020, when the pandemic permitted something of a rose garden strategy and Trump was the alienating incumbent. Biden will have to campaign differently next year and it’s not clear he can. Hunter Biden’s scandals certainly don’t help. The pitch for “Bidenomics” will only go so far because voters are still disgruntled about inflation.