Biden’s uphill battle: one year out from the US election

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Trying to forecast US politics often seems like a fool’s game. But while many have become accustomed to ever more unpredictable shocks since Donald Trump descended a golden escalator in 2015 to announce his run for president, the possible political earthquakes of the coming year could have even more profound consequences. 

Although countless uncertainties surrounding next November’s Presidential Election still remain, a picture is beginning to emerge of what a likely Trump-Biden rematch will look like, how close that contest could be and the unruly direction a second Trump presidency might take.

The New York Times recently published polling which shows Trump leading in five of the six “battleground” states which will almost certainly determine the result of the 2024 election. The implication is clear: Trump could credibly win the presidency.

Polling in the US may be famously unreliable, especially so far out from the election, but concern about Biden’s age among voters is more pronounced than ever. 70% of those polled thought Biden was too old to be an effective president – including a majority of Democrats.

Is Biden the right person to take on Trump? Election campaigns are physically gruelling, and the fact of age isn’t something that can be changed. Many Democrats would therefore like a new candidate, but with few viable alternatives and Biden determined to renew his tenancy at the White House, it seems the choice in 2024 will be between the same two men as 2020 – a prospect at which many Americans grimace.

70% of those polled thought Biden was too old to be an effective president – including a majority of Democrats

But despite frightful polling for the Democrats, including the revelation from YouGov that 55% of Americans think the economy is getting worse under Biden, victory is certainly still within reach. Opinion polls will surely tighten in the run-up to the election, and a sure-footed campaign in the key states could definitely get Biden over the line.

Yet perhaps Biden’s greatest electoral asset will once again be Trump. If the former president wins the Republican nomination, he will have to balance campaigning with attending trials for his 91 felony charges: indictments ranging from falsifying business records to conspiring to defraud the country. 

With an inevitable focus on the serious criminal allegations against Trump throughout next year, Americans may be unpleasantly reminded of the chaos which still surrounds the former president. But could the criminal trials, like previous criminal charges, actually boost Trump’s popularity? Would Americans beyond Trump’s core base still vote for him if he were convicted? Is there a future in which Trump is inaugurated from behind bars?

Among many of America’s international allies, there is deep concern at the prospect of another Trump presidency

The questions are endless and dizzying, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. Among many of America’s international allies, there is deep concern at the prospect of another Trump presidency and his policy programme which is starting to take shape.

After his attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 election, many assert that Trump does not believe in the fundamental rules upon which democracy is built. But perhaps just as worrying is his plan to dismantle the “deep state” by replacing thousands of civil servants with loyalists answerable directly to the president rather than to the constitution, flattening the system of checks and balances. Besides the question of whether the US government could still function without experienced civil servants, if Trump were to extend this initiative beyond the executive to all other branches of state, some argue you would have the hallmarks of an autocracy.

In terms of foreign policy, Trump is reportedly still considering withdrawing the US from NATO, or at least reducing US involvement in the alliance. He has also vowed to cut “hundreds of billions” of dollars in US international aid, likely leading to the end of Ukraine’s defence against Russia in the process. A resumption in Trump’s transactional approach to foreign policy, meanwhile, could foreseeably damage US alliances and embolden authoritarian regimes.

Another Trump presidency might have significant economic ramifications, too. With a pledge to introduce a 10% universal tariff on all imports, he would likely elicit retaliations and a global shift towards damaging protectionism.

With the world facing a barrage of serious challenges, from wars and security threats to climate change and artificial intelligence, a reliable and trustworthy America is perhaps needed now more than ever. As always, the world will be watching next year’s election closely and with interest, but we may have reason to feel more invested in the result than ever before.

Image: Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons

One thought on “Biden’s uphill battle: one year out from the US election

  • I see , like so many other mainstream commentators on both sides of the pond , that you disregard the Independent Candidate, Robert F Kennedy Jr . He may well affect the only poll that counts next November. Remember when we all thought a buffoon like Trump could never become President? Well Bobby Jr is no buffoon !

    Reply

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