The first steps in the Presidential campaign season of 2024 are already underway. Republican hopefuls former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have announced and are struggling for recognition, while all eyes are on Donald Trump. He has declared his candidacy for reelection and leads most polls for the Republican nomination. Undeclared but likely Republican candidates include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
On the Democratic side, everything is on hold until President Joe Biden announces whether or not he will run for a second term. That decision is expected within a few weeks.
Most pundits agree that each new Republican entrant increases Trump’s chances, because they splinter the anti-Trump vote, paving the way for him to prevail with as little as 40% of Republican primary votes.
The Democrats are in a bind of their own making. No candidate wants to openly challenge the incumbent President, and if Biden were not to run, the question of Vice President Kamala Harris’ candidacy is something most party leaders do not want to face until they have no choice. As the first female Vice president and the first person of color in that position, she is a powerful symbol for Democrats, but few consider her a strong candidate in her own right, and party leaders do not want to appear to discount her openly for fear of losing support from women and minorities.
Consequently, most speculation among the chattering class is that 2024 will bring a rematch of Trump and Biden. I’m willing to break with my fellow fortune-tellers and make this bold prediction: neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden will be their parties’ nominees for President in 2024.
Here’s why: Donald Trump’s base of support among Republicans is solid, but too small to win a general election. Trump fatigue is real. The possibility of one or more indictments is real. Donald Trump hates to lose more than anything, and if poll after poll makes it inescapably clear that he cannot win, he will withdraw rather than suffer the humiliation of defeat. At his age and weight, he can use any of several medical excuses, and tell the world that his doctors and Melania simply will not let him run, even though he feels healthy and invincible.
Among Democrats, poll after poll shows that a majority do not want Biden to run again because he would be nearly age 82. He will postpone his announcement not to run as long as he can, because he becomes a so-called lame duck as soon as he’s out of the race. Not long after, he will announce that his close friend and colleague Vice President Harris is his choice as nominee for the next opening on the Supreme Court, and if that doesn’t happen, for the next opening on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where an opening can be engineered if one doesn’t occur on the Supreme Court itself. The DC Circuit Court is often called the second-highest court in the land, and from there she could easily be proposed for the next opening on the Supreme Court when there is a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in the Senate. Then the Democrats will be free to coalesce around a next-generation candidate for the Presidency, probably a woman. Some obvious names are Gretchen Whitmer, Amy Klobuchar and Stacey Abrams, but do not count out the one who would almost certainly be the strongest of all, namely Michelle Obama.
Think about that: Michelle Obama versus Mike Pence, Nikki Haley or Mike Pompeo. And if I’m wrong about Donald Trump not running, what sort of brouhaha would you expect from Michelle Obama versus Donald Trump? God save us from that battle.
So, dear readers, hold me to my bold predictions: neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden will be on the ballot in November 2024. And let’s hope that in 19 months America elects as President a true leader who reflects the greatness of our country, tradition and values and reunites us as one nation under God.