As the political landscape of the United States begins to take shape for the 2024 presidential election, it’s increasingly clear that former president Donald Trump may indeed have a shot at trumping the incumbent, Joe Biden. While Biden’s presidency has been marred by a series of challenges, from economic concerns to doubts about his son Hunter’s legal entanglements and his age, Trump remains a potent force in American politics.
One of the most significant obstacles to Biden’s potential re-election bid is the persistent low approval ratings that have plagued his tenure. Recent polls indicate that his approval rating hovers at a mere 42 per cent, a figure that has remained stubbornly below the 50 per cent mark since the tumultuous troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. This suggests that a substantial portion of the American electorate remains dissatisfied with his performance.
Economic concerns loom large as well. Inflation rates have soared during Biden’s presidency, prompting central bankers to raise interest rates to curb rising prices. The impact of inflation on daily lives has not gone unnoticed by the public, and this economic unease has undoubtedly contributed to Biden’s lacklustre approval ratings.
How Hunter’s troubles impact Biden
However, perhaps the most potent challenges to Biden’s re-election prospects revolve around his son Hunter Biden’s legal troubles and concerns about his age. Hunter Biden’s federal gun charges and investigations into tax evasion and foreign business dealings have cast a shadow over the Biden family, with some Americans believing there might be a connection between his son’s activities and the president. While no substantial evidence has been presented to support such claims, they still linger in the public consciousness.
Additionally, there’s a growing perception that President Biden, at the age of 80, might be too old for re-election. Questions about his cognitive abilities and fitness for the job persist despite his efforts to allay concerns by releasing his medical records. A significant portion of the population questions his stamina and sharpness, and this vulnerability could be exploited in a re-election campaign.
Furthermore, Biden faces a lack of enthusiasm within his party, with only a third of Democrats believing he should be the party’s candidate in 2024. Many are calling for a younger candidate to take the lead. However, Vice-President Kamala Harris’s popularity is also low, leaving the Democratic Party in a difficult position with limited options. Dropping Harris is almost not an option because that would likely upset the party’s support base. The Democrats appear to have no choice but to go to the 2024 election with the Biden-Harris team.
In contrast, Trump, despite facing multiple criminal indictments and allegations ranging from undermining democracy to financial crimes, remains a formidable contender for the 2024 Republican Party presidential nomination. His unwavering support among Republicans, with over 80 per cent having a favourable view, keeps him firmly in the driver’s seat.
To Biden’s misfortune, Trump is not a typical Republican candidate whose popularity would be affected by political scandals or criminal indictments. Trump has positioned himself as a right-wing populist leader, and these leaders often cultivate intensely loyal and passionate bases of supporters. These supporters often view their chosen leader as an anti-establishment figure unfairly attacked by the “deep state” or the “liberal media.”
Trump is highly skilled at deflecting attention from scandals by redirecting the focus to other issues or discrediting his accusers. He employs tactics such as “fake news” claims or personal attacks on those who make allegations against him. This strategy can muddy the waters and create confusion among the public. He had adopted this strategy successfully in 2016 and almost successfully in 2020. The recent appointment of a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden is likely to help Trump shift attention away from his legal issues.
Trump also projects a strongman image, portraying himself as tough and unyielding in the face of adversity. This image appeals to his base, who see him as a fighter who won’t back down, regardless of the accusations against him. Trump also highlights that the economy performed better during his presidency, and he did not lead the country into war. Those who oppose US involvement in the war in Ukraine are also likely to support Trump.
Trump’s backing comes from various segments of the Republican base, including very conservative voters, rural communities, and lower-income and less-educated Republicans. He also maintains a strong lead among Hispanic and white Republicans. Remarkably, Trump’s recent indictments have not eroded his support; if anything, they seem to have strengthened his appeal among conservative Republicans, many of whom view these indictments as politically motivated attacks.
In the face of legal challenges, Trump’s popularity endures among those who see him as their champion and believe he is unfairly targeted by the legal system. With each indictment, his support among Republican voters appears to grow, solidifying his bond with his base.
As we look ahead to the 2024 presidential election, it’s evident that Trump’s enduring popularity within the Republican Party may give him the edge over Biden. While Biden grapples with various challenges, Trump’s resilience and unwavering support make him a force to be reckoned with in American politics, setting the stage for a potentially intense and closely watched election battle. The possibility of Trump winning another term is very real.