And The ’24 Winner Is…

Tonight New Hampshire will announce the results of its 2024 Republican presidential primary. I’ll tell you winner right now; it will be Donald Trump. In the paragraphs below I’ll tell you who will win the general. Well, sort of anyway.

On Sunday Nikki Haley made a big deal of the Republican contest finally becoming a two-person race when Ron DeSantis dropped out. I am among the many who expect Haley to lose in New Hampshire and then drop out herself before the South Carolina primary where Trump will win by a wide margin regardless of her candidacy.

Whether we like it or not – and most Americans don’t – barring their demise or dropping out 2024 will be a 2020 rematch between Joe Biden and Trump. There will be other “third party” candidates none of whom will stand a chance of victory nor in most, if not all cases – that is yet to be determined – influence the outcome.

There is an old saw in politics that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line. The latter is already happening, the former is not. That is Biden’s biggest challenge at this point: an enthusiasm gap. Many of the Trump endorsers are merely playing it safe. But he has a hard core – not enough to elect him in a high turnout general – base that just loves him. Want proof? Just look at January 6th. What other president got his supporters to try to overthrow the American government.

Like most close elections – and 2024 will be close – the outcome will be determined by turnout. Trump will get his base out (at least the ones who are not in prison). His problem is that in a high turnout election they are not sufficient to ensure victory. Biden may have to pin his turnout hopes on the 2020 anti-Trump vote showing up in sufficient numbers again. One thing that has changed is that a pro-choice flip vote will be a factor in his favor. Also in Biden’s favor is the fact that the state Republican parties in at least three battleground states that Trump should be targeting are broke and in disarray. It’s tough to run a good GOTV effort without the infrastructure of a state party.

In Biden’s favor is the fact that Americans tend to vote against, not for candidates. In my lifetime I only remember two presidential candidate who people actually voted for: John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama. I was too young to remember but 1952 might be the other exception. People of both parties liked Dwight Eisenhower. In the post-war era many American men’s core identity was their service in World War II. Many a voter bragged that they served under Eisenhower. The fact is that in most cases it was way under.

I am certainly not a fan of it, but we are stuck with the Electoral College again in 2024. I always go back to a basic question: What states that Trump lost in 2020 can he flip in 2024? My answer is still none in a high turnout election. In a low turnout election that could change.

Barring their unlikely death or only slightly more likely dropping out, Joe Biden or Donald Trump will win the 2024 election. I’m still not certain which but a lot depends on the outcome.

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