Labor Day has passed, marking the traditional kick-off the fall election season. With such razor thin majorities in both the House and Senate, as well as polls that indicate several Governor’s races seem to be unusually close, this year’s November battles are significant. However, lurking behind the upcoming races for House, Senate and Governor’s Mansions (as well as much publicized down-ballot votes that exert control over future election outcomes), there is one question—which can be applied to both parties—that looms like a dark cloud over the upcoming November contests and focuses on the Presidential contest in 2024: will he or won’t he run?
While we may be getting ahead of ourselves here, it is a question that shapes the outcomes of the midterms. So, while the implications of the November contests are deadly serious, it might be fun at this early juncture to consider the question in terms of the two principal contenders for President—Donald Trump and Joe Biden—and make predictions as to the decisions they will make.
For the Republicans, the question is not “should he run?” The answer to that, on almost any level, is easy. No. Someone who has lost the popular election twice, was impeached twice and faces a host of legal challenges ranging from unauthorized retention of government documents to sedition has no business considering a run for the White House. But the former guy still holds sway with millions of Americans and most polls say he is the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination should he decide to run for President.
The question is not “should” he run, but will he run? Hosts of professional pundits (and amature dabblers in political intrigue like me) have underestimated Donald Trump in the past—both the norms he will break to retain power and the uncanny sway he holds over millions of Americans. So, I don’t want to underestimate either his popular appeal or the devious techniques he is willing to apply to extend that popularity. That said, I predict that Donald Trump will not run for President. The actual work involved in campaigning is too hard. His legal troubles continue to mount and show no signs of abating. Donors are already defecting to Ron DeSantis, Ted Cruz, Kristi Noem and others. Raising money will be a challenge and the risk/reward equation tilts against him. Without an easy financial scheme, he will quickly lose interest and his incentive to run will evaporate. Therefore, I will swim against the commentariat tide here and predict that Donald Trump will not run for President in 2024.
More intriguingly, the question for Democrats is: will Biden run? This simple question has multiple layers. First—though he does not like to mention it publicly—the President’s age is a huge factor. While he remains vigorous (and I am so grateful for that), like all of us, he is susceptible to both the physical and cognitive decline that come with aging. He would be 82 when he takes office and even if he is well, age is a sinister foe and can creep up on any of us without notice.
But Biden’s age is only one consideration. If he runs, can he continue to turn around favorability polls? Will events continue to break in his favor as they have for the past couple months? And who will be his running mate? I don’t see how he can reasonably abandon the Vice President on the ticket. If a Biden-Harris ticket is again successful, all will be well. But if that ticket loses, it will open up all kinds of recriminations tinged with race and gender that would only serve to deepen the divides in our country.
If Biden runs with someone else (Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Gavin Newsome) he risks severely alienating a core constituency of his base and perhaps creates a backlash from which this country cannot easily recover. Again, by applying the risk/reward equation, I predict that Biden will opt out of the 2024 election and will not run for President.
So, dear reader, now it’s your turn! At the dawn of the 2022 midterm election season, join me in this parlor game! What is your prediction for each of the early favorites in the 2024 Presidential race? Check out future posts to see what others think.
Oh, and by the way, if both Donald Trump and Joe Biden step aside and let the country decide on its future without the baggage that two soon-to-be octogenarians bring to the picture, imagine the possibilities for a whole new direction to emerge with new leadership in both parties. What a wonderful world it could be!