Monday, February 5, 2024

An Election Like No Other


Friends, while the media fixates on Donald Trump, as per usual, and to a lesser extent on Sleepy Joe, the bruised and battered incumbent president, Americans will actually have a broad range of choices in 2024.  Now, if you're listening to the mainstream media, you could be forgiven for not knowing that most of these choices exist, and, of those you are permitted to acknowledge as existing, only one -- Joe Biden -- has been rated "acceptable".  Well, I predict that many Americans will vote for independent and third party candidates this year, and I further predict that this dynamic, as Democrats fear, will be enormously helpful to Trump and may well give him the edge he needs to prevail.  See if you don't agree with the reasoning in my latest article...

Re-Slicing the Electoral Pie in 2024

The most recent NBC News poll had very good news for Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters: looking forward to the 2024 election, it put him five points ahead of President Joe Biden among registered voters. On the other hand, the poll also exposes a critical weakness for Trump, mirrored in almost all other polls: less than 40% of the electorate “likes” Donald Trump, “approves” of him, or rates him “positively”. In the NBC poll, it was just 38%.

The upside for Trump, therefore, and for those who support him, is that Joe Biden's unpopularity is dragging him down into the depths and making it possible for Donald Trump to catch up with him and even surpass him in public support. The downside for Trump and Trumpers, however, is that Trump himself is not popular – he is arguably toxic to a majority of the electorate – and future developments, like felony convictions, could render him even less electable.

Fortunately for the GOP, conservatives, and Trumpists, the 2024 election is not shaping up as a simple repeat of the 2020 election, in which President Trump, arch-villain, faced off against a vaguely defined, putatively moderate “Anti-Trump”, who was supposed to restore America's “soul” as he brought integrity, competence, and dignity back to the White House. No, in 2024, Joe Biden is the incumbent, and he has accumulated a record and crafted a brand with which the vast majority of the electorate is dissatisfied – and about which even the Democratic base is unenthusiastic.

This dynamic, however, does not guarantee Trump victory, because his high negatives may ultimately overwhelm public doubts about Joe Biden – at least that is what Democrats are hoping. What may cinch the deal for Trump is the wild card in 2024: the presence of numerous other candidates in the race.

Already, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has announced his independent presidential candidacy, and Jill Stein and Cornel West have launched bids under the Green Party and the Justice For All Party, respectively. Add to this motley crew the certainty of a Libertarian Party candidate, and the strong possibility of a No Labels candidate, and throw in the public's marked disdain for Trump and Biden, the presumptive major party candidates, and you have the essential ingredients for a much more fluid and pluralistic contest than this country has experienced, at least since 2016, when third party candidates won roughly 6% of the vote, and possibly since 1992, when Ross Perot and various other candidates won almost 20% of the vote.

Why, though, would this dynamic necessarily help Trump?

Partly, this is because of the nature of the extra candidates themselves. Kennedy, West, and Stein all come from the political left, and they are therefore more likely to appeal to disaffected Democrats and left-leaning independents, although Kennedy's appeal is more broad-based and harder to pigeonhole in partisan terms. The No Labels candidate is most likely to be Joe Manchin, who is also historically a Democrat. Only the Libertarian Party candidate could represent a genuinely conservative alternative to Trump, although there is some speculation that the Libertarians might endorse Kennedy, in which case Trump would face no true conservative opposition at all.

The other reason why a large field of presidential candidates helps Trump is because Trump has struggled in the past, and is still struggling in current polls, to get to 50% support. With the electoral pie more subdivided than usual, Trump will not need to convince a majority of the electorate to support him, or even 46% or 47%, which is what he got in 2016 and 2020, respectively. Instead, in 2024, 40-45% of the vote could be more than enough to notch a national victory in the popular vote and local victories in the critical swing states.

The last reason why the presence of numerous candidates in the race helps Trump is that Biden's public support, though considerable, is “softer” than Trump's. Many Democrats are unimpressed by Biden's accomplishments and lack confidence in Biden's abilities and his fitness for office. They may hate Trump, but that does not necessarily mean that they are motivated to show up to vote for Biden, as we saw in the low turnout for the recent South Carolina Democratic primary. Neither does Trump-hatred exclude the possibility that someone would vote for a left-leaning candidate like Kennedy, Stein, West, or Manchin, instead of for Biden. Any support that these candidates receive could easily be fatal to Biden, who needs to hold together all, or almost all, of the anti-Trump coalition from 2020 to succeed in 2024.

Incidentally, polling averages compiled by RealClearPolitics bear out the assumption that a bigger field of candidates helps Trump. In polls where only Trump and Biden are named candidates, Trump leads by an average of 2.1%. In polls that give voters the choice of Trump, Biden, Kennedy, Stein, and West, Trump's lead expands to 4.8%. This is a very significant difference!

Of course, the mainstream media, as well as Biden loyalists and agents of the institutional Democratic Party (three categories that overlap to a considerable degree) will do their best to undercut the public appeal of third party candidates. Journalistic hit pieces will discredit them, political ads will point out the futility of voting for them, the debates (presumably) will exclude them, and even their ability to appear on the ballot, especially in swing states, will be, and has been, sabotaged. Nonetheless, these also-rans do not need to attract much public support – a few points in total would be more than enough – to upend the political dynamics of a critical election cycle.

For this reason, those who wish for a Trump victory would be wise to lend their support, rhetorically as well as financially, to some of these other candidates for the presidency, no matter how quixotic and farcical their candidacies may seem. A million dollars sunk into the coffers of the Trump campaign would barely be noticed, at the end of the day, but a seven-figure shot in the arm to the West or Stein campaigns, by contrast, could dramatically improve their visibility and their ability to poach votes from Biden and the Democrats.

This year, Republicans, conservatives, and Trumpers cannot afford to become mired in obsolete binary thinking. The 2024 presidential election will be a dynamic multiplayer game, and only those who understand this will be in a position to win it.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9. 




In other news, speculation is rife about DJT's choice of a running mate.  He appears to like the cut of Tim Scott and Kristi Noem's respective jibs.  I can see why.  Either one would be a solid choice, politically.  Now, whether either is ready to assume the duties of the presidency is a somewhat different matter. 

Mitch McConnell appears to be sounding the death knell for the compromise "border" bill now circulating in the Senate.  It's hard to know which analysis of the bill to believe, but obviously I'm rooting for a fundamental change of direction at the border, and we're unlikely to get that unless we have a change in presidential leadership.  My strong suspicion is that all Biden and Mayorkas want to do is temporarily reduce the flow of migrants so that they can take a bit of the political heat off themselves.


Finally, it looks like China's losses are India's gains, at least financially.  That's fine by me.  It's about time that the Chinese economic miracle lost some steam, and I would much rather see the West pumping investment dollars into democratic and peaceable India than authoritarian and (rhetorically) aggressive Red China.  I invested in India years ago, and I may have been a bit early, but any fool can see that the growth potential there is vast.  Let's hope that the Indian government won't do anything to blunt the country's momentum.


  1. Dr. Waddy from Jack: You have offered a very plausible view of the present state of the contest. What powerful nonsense all this prolix hurly burly must appear to most of the world. Of course democracy itself is rejected out of hand by some. Noem and Scott would both seem to be attractive candidates; of course they must be capable of surviving the assured MSM and lawfare slanderous onslaughts. Increasingly I am seeing the opinion expressed that for many conservative voters DJT's VP selection should be seen as his successor in 2028 (against. . . who? The dem prospects are appalling but perhaps that thoroughly compromised institution will have crumbled by then).

  2. Dr. Waddy from Jack: India: its rise toward economic soundness and power is, to me, transcendently miraculous and cause for true celebration. When I took several courses on South Asia for my Asian Studies degree in '72 - '75, I was told that the Indian rupee was internationally worthless, so desperate was India's state. I was warned not to go to Calcutta because I might be stepping over dead humans in much travelled thoroughfares. I was bade that the water was uniformly poisonous and that I would be very frequently approached for help from clearly destitute people. I had seen really bad misfortune in Manila, Hong Kong and Tijuana; I never did get to India but I saw hard living among some South Asians even in Singapore's sound economy. I am so glad that India has reached the point where smart people like you are investing in it and that many other signs of increasing prosperity are seen in many settings there. If I could choose I too would invest in India rather than China though I'm very grateful for the well being so widely available to so many in China. Both of those great civilizations had it so bad for so long! Its redeeming to see them rise in this way.

  3. Dr. Waddy from Jack: I should have said above "I'm so very glad that India has brought itself to the point where. . . blessed prosperity . . . ."

  4. Dr. Waddy from Jack: It beggars belief that anyone (including the man himself)can believe that Biden can serve four more years. That being almost certainly true, what then, do the dems see as his function? Is it simply to once again defeat DJT? If so, what then? As unpromising as Kamalafornia is, my guess is that most dems could live with her as a figurehead. She is and would be of course by definition oh so radiantly politically correct. And she does not appear to have a strong personality; the grimly determined antiamerican left might see in her a dupe like the one they have now in the White House. And look what destruction they have wrought already as our country rends itself at their cynical behest. Just now, Biden appears to be approaching unelectability; for the dems it might be best that he resign now and that they do their best with a Pres.Harris, sporting novelty that many would find intriguing. Too, she could conceivably team up with a redeeming VP and/or running mate though I loathe to suggest that any dem fulfills that adjective, even, on balance, Manchin. I suppose they could just go with Biden on his promise to resign immediately after Jan. 20 (?). The dems are in a real pickle and their desperate fear of the return of DJT might, if we are lucky, move them to politically catastrophic measures. They richly deserve this discomfiture for their viciousness , their terribly mistaken fundamental doubt of America's worth and their dishonesty about that
    and their obsequious surrender to the America haters .


    Since I am going to be busy with a great number of things this year, I will not be posting any comments on your site for an indefinite period. However, I will certainly try to read your articles and comments as time permits. Wishing the both of you the very best of everything.



  6. Oh, Jack, I very much doubt that the Democratic Party will "crumble" anytime soon! Its best days lie ahead, if you ask me.

    It's logical to assume that Trump's VP choice would become his heir apparent, but is it possible to imagine ANYONE filling Trump's shoes? He's, uhh, one of a kind, no? Another possibility is that Trump's running mate will be a likeable placeholder and the real battle for the heart and soul of the GOP, post-Trump, will come later.

    Jack, you and I understand this well enough, but I think many Americans do not: simple math tells us that big surges in the standard of living in countries like India and China have an aggregate effect on human wellbeing that utterly dwarfs anything that has come before, INCLUDING the Industrial Revolution. Anyone who "gets" this would be hard-pressed to portray the modern age as a period of decline and desperation.

    Jack, I think you hit the nail on the head: Biden's main and possibly only function, in the next year at least, is to defeat DJT. If he can do that, his long-term future becomes a matter of indifference. We often exaggerate the power of the presidency, especially given how beholden to their party apparatuses our presidents are. The president is in many ways ALWAYS a figurehead, whose main function is to translate party ideology into digestible sound bytes -- and to avoid the kind of freakish gaffes that sink party fortunes. That's probably the biggest test that Biden faces in 2024: can he avoid any major face-plants? If he can, he has a decent chance of victory.

    Ray, no worries. Comment when and if you can. Even the faintest traces of your "rays" of sunshine are welcome!

  7. Dr. Waddy from Jack: It may be hard for people who have not seen third world poverty (the real thing) to perceive what its like.Understandably, they may think it like the sometimes hyperbolically termed poverty we see in America. I saw: a man in Hong Kong wearing nothing but newspapers; a homeless approx. 4 year old in Manila who had only a tee shirt; cardboard box houses in Tijuana. The foul smells and water often seen in the true third world are compelling. Even at Varanarsi, India, one of the most hallowed places in the world, where Believers gratefully take to the sacred Ganges, its waters are sadly and dangerously compromised (in a mundane way only). A Chinese family in our town who own a Chinese restaurant take no days off; the necessity of devoting so much of one's life to often relentlessly unrewarding work is nearly ubiquitous in underdeveloped economies. To see so many people in China and India, many of whom have known destitution in all of its spirit deadening tyranny, now being able to enjoy the good life that material sufficiency (and some luxuries and leisure) can afford; to see that is joyful thing!

  8. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Another Trump? Its a prospect we will have to consider no later than 2027 anyway. Perhaps Ramaswamy. He doesn't quite manifest DJT's street smart moxie yet but he did well for a newcomer this year and he appears right on alot of the issues. He has good reason to display a keen sense of how precious our prosperity and freedom is, as do so many who have come from less blessed countries. He puts our far too many shameful cadres of ungrateful America haters to deserved and laughable contradiction. That, rather than the lugubrious guilt and the oh so convinced view of our country as deserving punishment and "fundamental transformation' forced on an ignorant and "insensitive" populace, would be a tonic to our wounded civilization.

  9. Dr. Waddy from Jack: I certainly agree: to have been in on the ground floor of the Industrial Revolution had to be a grim experience, though the unrelenting and often materially unrewarding labor necessitated by almost universal rural life understandably motivated multitudes to give it a try or to hazard the fearful crossing of the Atlantic. I worked in heavy industry and even in the 60s it was dirty and dangerous enough thank you, though it did pay well.

  10. Dr. Waddy from Jack: But perhap's Biden's verbal performances are adding up to one continuous gaffe which varies only in intensity and how pitiful it is to behold. As 2024 progresses, the country descends into ever greater political crisis. The shameful Colorado case now before Scotus is critical. If the dems win the election they would shunt Biden to the side, as his usefulness to them would be over, though they might allow him continued dreamy residence in the former and DEI condemned White House. That done, they would strive to make this the last contested Presidential election and would launch the final offensive in their war on America. This would not go unnoticed by America.

  11. Jack, that is an excellent point that you can often smell REAL poverty coming! Basic hygiene is something we take for granted in modern America, and in most of the modern world. It was not so long ago that even in America it was basically a privilege.

    Jack, you aren't the first to suggest Ramaswamy as a successor to Trump. I count myself VERY skeptical. First, let's see him demonstrate a talent for something -- ANYTHING! -- other than telling conservatives what they want to hear. Maybe after a period of apprenticeship in the (second) Trump Administration, I could start to agree about his potential, but he has a lot to prove.

    I agree, Jack: if the Dems manage to win in '24, we'll see very little of Biden thereafter, whether he remains (nominal) president or not.