Dueling Dilemmas

Prediction: The winner of the 2024 presidential election will be either the Democratic or Republican nominee. If that doesn’t sound like much of a news flash to you then let’s explore how we might get there. That will be a lot more interesting! Going into primary season each party has a dilemma and we could also see a twist not seen since the days of George Wallace and Ross Perot.

Let’s explore the Democratic side first. Joe Biden is the sitting president and he is not term limited. All indications are – and several are very strong – that he will run for reelection in 2024. Biden, despite being very successful, is not popular (I’ll dispense with any discussion of why for today). He is also old and has lost some of his pep, at least oratorically. The reality is that no viable Democrat (sorry, Marianne you don’t come close to filling that bill!) is stepping forward to challenge him for the nod. Like it or not the Democrats are “stuck” with Joe. Turnout is always a factor for Democrats and the question is whether the ground troops can motivate a large enough showing at the polls. 2024 will be a tough year to work field for the Ds.

On the Republican side Donald Trump is hugely popular with about 30% (perhaps more) of the Republican electorate. He will definitely win any large field primary especially considering the Republicans’ winner take all primary format. However, like many of his endorsees, he is most likely incapable of winning a general election. (Trump actually presents an interesting dilemma in that he appears to be the easiest Republican to beat in the general but what a chance to take should he win!)

At least early on, I expect a large GOP field. The question is if there are still enough “adults” in the Republican party to organize a consolidation around a single Trump challenger early enough to take the primary. Watch the big money people, they are the only ones with the power to pull of this move. All they really want is close to zero regulations along with low taxes on corporations and the very wealthy; any Republican wannabe will deliver that.

Here is the real wild card (and perhaps a best case scenario for Biden). Should the Republicans nominate anyone not named Trump will he run as a third party candidate? If so, he will assuredly siphon enough votes away from the Republican candidate to prevent them from finishing in first in the popular vote (which really doesn’t matter in our format) and almost certainly the electoral vote.

The bottom line with Trump (perhaps the greatest grifter in modern American history) is money. He knows how to profit from running for president – he already did it twice. He is facing huge legal bills – lately many of which have actually been paid (with OP money) – and he wants other people to pay for them. He is also facing a seemingly ongoing cash crunch and needs to generate money. What better way than to get temporarily useful idiots to send it to him? If Trump is not the Republican nominee, I fully expect him to run as a third party candidate unless he can “extort” sufficient money from the Republicans.

Possible dilemmas abound and its only February of the year before the election. Stay tuned!

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