Regular followers of American politics probably can recall a time when everyone in the country wasn’t as fixated on the upcoming presidential race the way folks appear to be today.
Perhaps yesteryear’s lessened degree of obsession was due to a general perception that government worked for every citizen regardless of whether the man occupying the Oval Office was the one they’d selected on the previous ballot. Or maybe it was because the two major party candidates were at least viewed as being qualified for the job. It’s hard to pinpoint when politics changed so dramatically, but these days, one can hardly peruse news headlines without some direct or offhand reference to 2024. And it’s been that way since Joe Biden’s inauguration day twenty-one months ago.
My theory is both Republicans and Democrats started paying greater mind to who’s in the White House after the 2000 “dangling chad” election debacle and the heinous September 11, 2001 Islamic terrorist attacks. Was it a trick of fate that allowed George W. Bush to emerge victorious after Florida was called for the Republican? And what would’ve happened if the global-warming touting maniac Al Gore had prevailed instead?
Much of today’s more passionate focus is attributable to the two most likely party representatives on their respective tickets in twenty-five months. Donald Trump has been an establishment media magnet ever since he launched his political career in June, 2015. There’s no disputing that Trump’s name draws people from every point on the ideological spectrum. His supporters love him like no other politician in American history, and his enemies loath him like none other, though I’d argue that Democrats reserve a special place of animus for each and every Republican standard-bearer regardless of his or her hairstyle or hand gestures.
The left’s negative feelings for Trump make those they expressed for George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney look microscopic by comparison.
Democrats also have fairly unique circumstances surrounding them this cycle, since it’s far from clear whether doddering dolt senile first-term president Joe Biden will run for another four years or if he’ll hang it up early. For his part, Biden insists he’ll do it – run – but his advanced age and noticeably deteriorating physical and mental condition makes his decision a long way from a foregone conclusion.
Many, many factors will influence both Trump’s and Biden’s ultimate choice on 2024, not the least of which are the end results of the federal midterm elections coming up in a little less than four weeks. Many potential 2024 candidates have a lot riding on the final tallies. In a piece titled “Ten 2024 contenders facing big stakes in midterms”, Niall Stanage reported at The Hill:
“This year’s midterm elections are destined to shape the 2024 hopes of several leading figures in both parties. For some, the results will put a dent in their future ambitions. For others, they will be fuel for the quest ahead.
“Here are 10 of the big names with a lot to win or lose in November — whether or not they are candidates themselves.
“[Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; Texas Gov. Greg Abbott; Former President Trump; Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.); South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem; President Joe Biden; Vice President Kamala Harris; California Gov. Gavin Newsom; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.]”
As would be expected, Stanage takes it one at a time when analyzing how different midterm outcomes might or might not impact the above potential candidates. It’s hard to believe the results would seriously improve or derail any hopeful’s chances, unless one of the several governors listed should happen to lose his or her reelection bid. In that case, the loss would then be hard to make a convincing pitch to national voters in 2024.
I’ll add my own impressions to Stanage’s list of five Republicans and five Democrats:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis earned his office in 2018 by the slightest of margins and, at the time, some figured he would have trouble making political headway in the Sunshine State without a clear mandate from Florida’s voters. Any worries about the Floridian’s conservative bona fides were quickly dispelled by DeSantis’s bold and visible moves, particularly during the COVID lockdowns two and a half years ago. Since that time, the governor has taken on big tech, “woke” Disney and shepherded the state through the historically damaging Hurricane Ian.
There’s no such person as a political King Midas in America today, but everything DeSantis touches seems to turn to gold. It would take a virtual miracle for Ron to lose his reelection race to a party-switching loser like Charlie Crist next month. As for the rest of the midterms? DeSantis can make good arguments for 2024 either way, as an “I’m the strongest candidate” message carrier, or an “I’ll bring us back like I did in Florida” type of candidate.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott’s name is often mentioned as a possible 2024 GOP contender, though I haven’t seen much on whether he considers himself to be one. The Lone Star State has earned quite an impressive reputation for leading in policy and freedom for its citizens. Just like with Florida, Texas gets more than its share of inward migration from high tax blue states like California and Illinois. How much of the credit belongs to Abbott for Texas’ success is the question. Whereas Florida has always been regarded as a purple-type toss up state, Texas has acted a bastion for individual autonomy and conservatism for generations.
It wouldn’t necessarily be a 2024 deal breaker for him, but Abbott requires a wheelchair to get around. Would such a handicap impact a national campaign? It’s difficult to say. But for an image conscious American public, physical limitations could conceivably be a drawback for the man. Abbott will almost assuredly win reelection over Democrat privileged moron doofus “Beto” O’Rourke next month. Will he go on from there? I doubt it.
Former President Trump. So much has been said and written about Trump and 2024 that the subject doesn’t need much elaboration here. If Republicans do well in the midterms, he’ll claim credit; if they do poorly, he’ll dispense blame in every direction but his location. The Trump train won’t be derailed or boosted by either occurrence. The effect from the midterms is net zero.
Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.). Like with Gov. Greg Abbott discussed above, I haven’t seen Rick Scott’s name bandied about as a strong possibility for 2024. Scott does currently head up the Republican Party’s senate campaign arm, but the Sunshine State junior senator would be much more likely to shove Mitch McConnell to the side as GOP upper chamber leader than to elbow out Trump and DeSantis as presidential candidates.
Also like with Abbott, Scott doesn’t have the name recognition to jump right in and be thought of as a serious federal executive contestant. Even if the GOP takes the senate majority back and does very well from coast to coast, who is going to give the relatively anonymous Floridian the lion’s share of the credit?
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. At last year’s (2021) annual CPAC meeting in Florida, Noem was all the rage as one of a handful of would-be Trump successors on the GOP side. Recall that this was when Trump was still smarting from the unfortunate ending to his first term and it wasn’t at all clear that he would try to reenter politics and run again in 2024.
Then Noem drew attention – and conservatives’ ire – by vetoing a very popular South Dakota bill that would have protected her state’s girls from transgender biological males in female sports, and almost instantaneously, Kristi’s political bubble burst. Since that incident, Noem is more often spoken of as a possible vice president candidate to replace Mike Pence on the 2024 Trump ticket than a headliner. Time will tell, but it’s hard to see how the midterm results would alter Kristi’s set-in-stone course.
President Joe Biden. Similar to Donald Trump, there’s been so much conjecture about Biden’s 2024 plans, the subject doesn’t need additional elaboration here. If the midterms go well for Democrats (not likely), Biden would assuredly benefit politically because his agenda would have a much better chance of getting through Congress.
But if and when things go badly for Democrats in a few weeks, even liberal analysts will direct their burning rage at the bumbling fool whose staff must correct his every utterance lest he set off World War III. Biden’s policies are worse than his persona. If the economy were humming and people were happy, it wouldn’t matter how incompetent he appeared. But they’re not. It won’t be pretty.
Vice President Kamala Harris. It’s perfunctory for the establishment media to list cackling Kamala as a leading 2024 contender, but is this realistic? Harris’s gaffe making talents might eclipse those of senile Joe, and, in 2020, when she conducted her own campaign, the California senator did horribly, not even making it past early December, 2019.
Biden selected Harris to run with him because of her race and sex, not due to her vast intellect. No matter how the midterms turn out for Democrats, it’s not likely that Americans will care about any candidate’s pronouns and skin color when their own investment portfolios are dwindling to nothing. The worst vice president ever probably won’t get the opportunity to be the worst president ever, supplanting senile Joe in that category.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. I’ll lump all three Democrat governors into the same category here, since all three are heavily favored to win their reelection campaigns and at least two of them have been in the 2024 conversation for a long time. Pritzker doesn’t have the name recognition nor the “gravitas” to win in the modern Democrat party. A fat white guy as nominee? I don’t see it.
Newsom is only on the list because he’s from the nation’s most populous state. He’s recently said, again, that he isn’t running because he just got over a recall effort – and I believe him in this regard. Whitmer is a liberal cable news darling and gets on TV because she’s camera friendly and says all the right things to get the Democrats’ suburban female constituency animated. But she’s about as deep as a puddle and transparent as water.
Regardless of the midterms’ outcomes, the 2024 Democrat presidential candidate will almost assuredly come from their pool of national celebrities, show-boaters and political grifters. The Republican’s 2024 contest will either be Trump vs. DeSantis or some other combination of Trump and someone who figures he or she can beat him. We’re fairly close to discovering who will take the stage.
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2024 presidential election