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As the election begins today will it be Biden, Trump or none-of-the above?

Trump Biden Question Presidential Race
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The Iowa caucus traditionally starts the presidential election in what might be the most nontraditional primary and general election of our lifetimes.

If someone tells you they know who will win the 2024 presidential election, immediately give them a breathalyzer. No one in their right mind — or a drunk one — has a clue what will happen between now and on the first Tuesday in November when we might have a winner. Might being the operative word. And that winner might be unexpected.

For sure, we know that Donald Trump will win the Iowa caucus tonight. That's been a foregone conclusion for months. This, even though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited all 99 counties in the state. I think that was a horrible idea. The closer he gets to the electorate, the more they see how unlikable he is. Perhaps a flyover of the state at 30,000 feet would have been a better idea, but who wants him to win? Or Nikki Haley? Or even Trump? They all suck — excuse my French.

But unless DeSantis becomes likable and Haley recognizes slavery as the reason for the Civil War, the presumptive nominee will be the galling Trump. And then what happens?

The only thing that we might be able to accurately predict for the next 10 months is the volatility and upheaval of the ensuing presidential campaign. On Wednesday, November 6, the tallying of votes will most likely not be completed, with the prospect of a Bush v. Gore rerun ever-present, but who knows?

The only certainty, and I can say this with 99 percent assurance, is that the campaign will not be mundane and muted. And at this point, voters are dreading a rematch of Trump vs. Biden, and that sentiment is not going to change. As a result, we will see a jumbled mess of a presidential election that just might turn off even more voters, but will they come out for an issue instead of an entrant?

The off-year elections last year proved that abortion drives Democrats to the polls, more than anything else by far. Extremists whose issues are anti-abortion and believing Biden is an illegitimate president are stinkers. If Democrats are lucky, the election will come down to abortion. It won't be Biden's "soul of America" again, because, well, we've heard that message before. In 2024, simplicity works best given all the noise that will roar loudly at us this year.

All the commotion ahead involves a possible multi-convicted nominee and an aging nominee who just can’t get anyone to like him, because, well, people think he’s too old.

We have ongoing wars in the Middle East and Ukraine that could spread, social issues like abortion and gender-affirming care, and inflation, which will continue to dangle. Will we have continued upheaval in the U.S. House? We also have Trump himself, who will burn down democracy to get what he wants. We may not have seen the worst of him, which is frightening. And will Biden’s falls have Democrats holding their collective breath?

Do you think any of this — this cacophony of chaos — will make voters feel more positive about the election? Hardly!

The upcoming unconventional campaign will twist and shock. We have no idea what’s in store for us — we never do, of course, but this year feels more uncertain, and unruly, than ever before.

How do we know, for sure, that Trump will be the Republican nominee and Biden the Democratic nominee? It is an anything-can-happen political environment with two unpopular, at-risk candidates. For example, everyone keeps talking about the health of the 81-year-old Biden, but what about the soon-to-be 78-year-old Trump? We know nothing about his health, but he doesn't seem to exercise and seems to have a poor diet. He's one cheeseburger away from a stroke. Could it be Trump's health that upends the election?

That’s one reason why it’s hard to predict, or even see, a contest between Trump and Biden. We’ve never had an octogenarian and a near octogenarian as nominees for president. Before Biden and Trump ran as the oldest candidates in 2020, Ronald Reagan was the oldest to run at 74 in 1984.

I’m not suggesting that one of them is going to keel over. Personally, I want Trump to live long enough to endure pain and suffering in a federal prison, but I digress. Campaigning for president is one of the most grueling tasks there is, more so for Biden because all Trump does is walk from a plane to a podium at a rally, spew for 90 minutes, and walk back to his plane – if he still has one next year.

Biden on the other hand, likes to glad-hand the crowd and spend some time with voters on the ground, which dramatically increases the effort expended on the campaign trail. And that is fraught with danger with Biden’s stiff gait and stilted walk.

Biden has a lot to campaign on. He’s done a lot to bring the country back from the dark days of the pandemic, and Democrats are the only functioning party in the country. Biden and the party are on the right side of issues like abortion, climate change, marriage equality, gender-affirming care, and upholding democracy, and they get things done. But nobody knows about it.

Trump and the Republicans have no message, and nothing to campaign on, except grievances, but the lack of an agenda or any substantive — or any — legislation passed by inept House Republicans doesn’t seem to matter to voters. In fact, in the same New York Times poll that showed Trump leading in five battleground states over Biden, voters in those states said they trusted Trump over Biden on the economy, foreign policy, and immigration, and that is stupefying.

At the beginning of last year, Biden’s team made moves to increase his likability factor versus tearing down Trump through early campaign ads. According to Politico, Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee spent around $7 million on positive TV ads this year about Biden, and those efforts fell flat and may have hit a brick wall. All you have to do is look at the downward trajectory of his likability numbers for the last 10 months.

Will Biden ever get his message of success across to voters? How can he with all the noise Trump emanates, and will emanate this year with trials, appeals, more appeals, convictions, witnesses, judges, juries, etc., etc., etc. While Trump screams on Truth Social, and the media jumps through hoops covering him, Biden will seem like he's just plodding along.

And there really is only one reason why Biden’s likability isn’t breaking through, and let’s just be brutally honest about it, it’s his age. Biden will never get any younger, which means that the likability number isn’t going up. Voters see aging in their parents and grandparents, and an overwhelming majority of them are not “super seniors” like Biden. Moreover, most people don't like watching someone older function. It's the inevitability of aging that scares the bejesus out of us.

I hate saying these things. I love President Biden, and I’m all about rooting for us old guys to achieve great things late in life, but I am nervous about this situation because it’s about the toughest job in the world.

So, here are some other things to consider moving forward that will make the months ahead full of suspense:

  • Will Biden be forced to step aside?
  • Will a savior candidate evolve leading up to the party's convention in August?
  • Will a Trump conviction mean jail time and ensuing court cases to remove him as the party's candidate?
  • Will Trump's obnoxious hogging of media time be a turn-off for moderate Republicans and independents who have had enough of the Trump show?
  • Will a savior candidate emerge at the Republican convention this fall?
  • Will Joe Manchin and Chris Christie team up for a third-party ticket?
  • Will the emergence of a third-party ticket be Trump's ticket to re-election?
  • Will Trump turn to a moderate as a VP choice? (Don't laugh at this. Trump could proverbially shoot someone on 5th Avenue, and his base would still support him. They would let Trump get away with the murder that is making him more palpable in a general election. And in the era of wackiness that is the new Republican party, Nikki Haley is a moderate.)
  • Will 2024 be the lowest turnout by voters, per capita, in history after the record turnout in 2020?
  • Will the winner of the 2024 presidential election be Trump, Biden, or none-of-the-above?

John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.