On the Cusp of the 2024 Presidential Primary Season

Member Group : Let Freedom Ring, USA

In a matter of mere hours, we will enter the Presidential election year of 2024. After four Republican debates, all without Donald Trump, and after enduring a virtual barrage of media stories about President Joe Biden’s dismal poll ratings, let’s take stock of where the race stands and what we might expect.

On the Republican side, although Trump is historically far ahead, the race is probably much closer than most of the media coverage would have you believe. We should virtually ignore all national polls. Primaries are a state-by-state process, not a single event, and early primaries affect later primaries. National surveys ignore this important dynamic and include states where most if not all candidates have not even campaigned. The resulting picture is nearly meaningless.

Second, most early polls have much smaller sample sizes than later polls, so media coverage often ignores individual polls and instead uses polling averages, like the one published daily by RealClearPolitics.com, on the theory that averaging polls reduces the instability of small sample sizes. The problem with polling averages is that they mask polling trends. The race for second position among Republicans is more important than jockeying for second place in most Presidential election years, because no front-running candidate in either party has ever carried as much negative baggage as Donald Trump, with the likelihood of still more to come. The probability of the front runner imploding has never been as great. The two Republican candidates contesting for second place are Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, and their polling averages are close to a tie. However, in the states where Haley has campaigned personally and spent money, her trend is upward, while DeSantis’ is downward where he has campaigned and spent. That is significant, and if it continues for just another week, it will constitute genuine momentum. Haley has been ahead in New Hampshire for a while, but if she is able to begin the season by nipping DeSantis in Iowa, especially after he was endorsed by both Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds and influential Christian conservative Bob VanderPlaats, then she’ll be crowned the only real Trump alternative.

Trump’s polling lead in virtually all polls is substantially greater than any other Republican candidate’s lead in history at the beginning of an election year, and most political commentators treat him as the putative nominee. I disagree. I am convinced that the mounting toll of indictments, revelations, verdicts and a few general election polls showing erosion of his lead versus Biden will eventually lead to a collapse of his support. I’ll concede that there’s no evidence of that to date, and some evidence to the contrary, but my trust in the wisdom and decency of the American people leads me to this conviction. The later it occurs the better for Haley and DeSantis, because as long as Trump’s candidacy is viable, Biden will likely remain on the other side.

On the Democrat party side, Biden is highly vulnerable, but he will persist unless he suffers a health crisis. His approval rating on all polls is well below 45%, but it may be creeping upwards. The two primary issues hurting him are his age and disapproval of his handling of the economy. The former won’t go away, and may get worse, but on the economy, he may benefit from a strong stock market and a reduction in inflation. If that issue improves for him, the border crisis is ready to move up as a major negative to take its place. Even though an incumbent, Joe Biden is simply not a strong candidate, and if some catastrophe occurs that further weakens him, the Democrats will find themselves in a panic to replace him, and little time to do so.

Several months ago here on American Radio Journal, I made a bold prediction: “neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden will be their parties’ nominees for President in 2024.” I still stand by that prediction. The process begins for real with the Iowa caucuses. It will continue until June 4, when the District of Columbia, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold their primaries — nearly six months. A lot can happen in such a long span. The party conventions in July and August offer additional opportunities for change.

Don’t expect the final lineup of Presidential candidates for the 2024 general election to look anything like the Trump-Biden redux that the media are stubbornly projecting. We haven’t even looked at the possible impact of third-party contenders. Remember Ross Perot? Fasten your seatbelts: there’s turbulence ahead.