Donald Trump and the 2024 General Election
Recently a passionately committed Donald Trump supporter asked me who I would back in 2024 and why are so many pundits claiming that Trump cannot win the general election. In my reply I wrote that while I like both DeSantis and Trump, I will enthusiastically support whoever wins the nomination. My answer to the second part of the question is yes, Trump can win. But he needs to recognize reality and have the strategy in place for an exceedingly difficult election due to the unknown repercussions of the despicable lawfare being waged against him as well as the political and electoral landscape in present-day America. Thus far there has been no indication that the Trump campaign or the Republican National Committee understands or has developed any strategy to win the general election.
The ongoing lawfare against Trump will, in all likelihood, spawn a number of uncontrollable factors. Among them will be Trump’s ability to campaign and the necessity of spending massive sums of campaign cash on legal expenses instead of opposing the Democrat nominee. Additionally, the outcomes of the public trials that will be held prior to the election could potentially result in dramatic negative reactions by the electorate directed towards Trump.
Therefore, the Republican primary voter needs to know what will be the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee strategy if voter sentiment turns markedly against him and/or multiple states arbitrarily and unconstitutionally attempt to disqualify Trump from their ballots based on the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment.
The political and electoral landscape facing Donald Trump can be broken down into four component parts: 1) the impact of changing voter demographics, 2) the perception of Trump by the voters, 3) the unique status of five battleground states, and 4) the high probability that Joe Biden, due to rapidly deteriorating health and mounting scandals, will drop out of the race,
The Brookings Institution recently published an article highlighting how the younger voters (Millennials and Generation Z) are poised to upend American politics. In 2024 they will account for over half of the total population and nearly half of all registered voters. The Democrats have long focused on registering and engaging this voting bloc while the Republicans have essentially ignored them.
In the 2022 mid-terms younger voters backed Democrat Senate and House candidates by a 57-40% margin. Senator John Fetterman, despite being noticeably incapacitated from a stroke, won in Pennsylvania because 63% of 18-44-year-olds voted for him.
Trump has never been viewed favorably by this voting bloc. Even in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 when the economy was soaring, his favorability rating among voters 18-34 years-old was just 37%. At present younger voters are unhappy with Biden and still have an extraordinarily low favorable (23%) opinion of Trump.
However, there is also ample evidence that a significant segment of younger voters are beginning to shift rightward and are open to conservative principles after experiencing the failures of Democrat Party governance. Trump and the Republicans must exploit that opening if he is to win.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each won 88% of the vote of their respective parties, the deciding factor -- Trump won Independents by a 46-42% margin. In 2020 Biden and Trump each won 94% of the vote of their respective parties, the deciding factor -- Biden won Independents by a 54-41% margin.
However, per a poll published on August 15, 2023, Independents believe by a 57-37% margin that Trump should be prosecuted for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Further, 63% of Independents stated that the trials should take place before the election. And 53% believe he is guilty of the alleged crimes in the election subversion indictment.
Trump must win among Independents in 2024 and it appears that the indictments against him weigh heavily on this vital voting bloc. Therefore, how well Trump and his team convince the electorate of his innocence as well as the speciousness of the charges and malevolence of the Justice Department may determine how Independents vote in 2024.
Over the past twenty years due to demographic changes, population shifts, and new voting patterns, twenty states and the District of Columbia, representing 233 electoral votes, are currently Democrat strongholds and 25 states, representing 232 electoral votes, are currently Republican strongholds. Thus, the 2024 election will again be decided by whoever wins at least three of the following battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
In 2016, Trump won all five and in 2020, Biden won all five. At present neither Trump nor Biden are popular as nearly 63% of registered voters in the battleground states say they would prefer to back a centrist third-party candidate if the election features a rematch between Biden and Trump.
Further, the results of the 2022 mid-term elections may portend an ominous outcome for Donald Trump. All five battleground states held gubernatorial elections in 2022, all five candidates that Trump endorsed and campaigned for lost their elections.
However, a July 2023 poll suggests that as long as Biden stays in the race, and faces any third party challenger, Trump could conceivably win 2-3 battleground states.
Accordingly, the Democrats are well aware that Donald Trump’s best chance to win in 2024 is to run against Joe Biden who, like Trump, is also currently saddled with an abysmal 31% national favorability rating. Thus, the party hierarchy is growing increasingly concerned about Joe Biden’s electability due to obvious failing health and ongoing revelations of egregious potential criminality that have been and will continue to be exposed.
There can be little doubt that within the corridors of the Democrat Establishment conversations are presently taking place about what to do with Kamala Harris and Biden’s exit from the race but not the presidency. The bottom line: it is highly unlikely that Joe Biden will be the Democrat nominee for president.
The Democrats have until their convention in August of 2024 to choreograph Biden’s exit. By doing so they recast the campaign heavily in their favor as they would still have Trump to pillory, the Republicans would have wasted vast sums of campaign funds on opposing Biden, and the Democrats would have a new face of their campaign to promote without the baggage that defending Biden would entail.
In order to win in 2024, Trump, his campaign, and his hand-picked Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, must conceive and execute a bold strategy to 1) address the factors that alienate younger voters who at present are not irrevocably lost to the Democrats, and 2) focus on the winning over independent voters. They also need to assume that Joe Biden will, in all probability, not be the opponent and be prepared to adjust the campaign accordingly.
The Trump campaign and the RNC must also singlemindedly address and promote mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, early voting, and precinct by precinct oversight in the battleground states.
The importance of the 2024 election cannot be overstated. If this nation is controlled for another four to eight years by a political party that hates America there will be no turning back. Thus, the question of whether Trump can win the general election is one that has to be dispassionately considered by both Donald Trump and Republican primary voters.
Image: North Charleston