Starting point for the 2024 U.S. Presidential Elections

Otros autores: Translated by Amb. Oscar de los Reyes
enero 12, 2024   0

Although the U.S. general election will take place on November 5, the process leading up to that event begins several months in advance. Defining who will win the presidency or which party will win the majority in the houses of Congress is, at this point, an exercise fraught with uncertainty.

This article presents the premises for the analysis of the upcoming Presidential Elections and what strategies is the Democratic Party considering as its safest bet. The Republican case will be discussed in a later work.

Premises for an analysis

The starting points for the analysis of the upcoming elections are that, in the first place, it will be a close election, defined in a few states and by very few votes -probably less than 100,000. Secondly, the current scenario suggests that Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be the candidates of their respective parties and, finally, the electoral map that serves as a basis for the 2024 elections is the one that resulted from the 2020 elections.

The map that allows us to understand the presidential elections is based on those states that are practically secured by either party and signifies those that are more difficult to determine. The latter are the ones that define the final result and to which the parties dedicate the utmost attention and resources. They are known as key states, swing states or battleground states.

For the current presidential election, Arizona (11 electoral votes, won by 10,457 votes)[1], Georgia (16 electoral votes, won by 11,779 votes)[2], Wisconsin (10 electoral votes, difference of 20,682 votes), Pennsylvania (19), Nevada (6) and Michigan (15) are considered in this category. Other states that will prove to be of interest will be: North Carolina (16), New Hampshire (4) and Florida (30)[3].

The 2020 map is the one that made Biden the winner, so the Democratic goal is to defend or enlarge it. In theory, his path to victory seems clearer for the following reasons:

1- In 2020 they won the states that are considered key for 2024. This will allow them to obtain and concentrate resources in states of their interest without the need to wear themselves out in winning others that were previously lost.

2- In several of the key states, Democrats have had favorable results in the last three election cycles, particularly in the 2022 midterm elections[4].

3- Its main candidate should not suffer significant attrition as a result of the primary process. On the contrary, he/she should easily be able to accumulate fundraising and to better distribute his/her campaign actions without the pressures imposed by the primary calendar.

4- As President, Biden has broad national coverage regardless of his campaign actions which allows him to better manage his resources.

5.  At least in theory, the Democrats can win even if they were to lose in several of the states they won in 2020, unlike the Republicans who are required to win all of 2020 and expand their map.

The Republican map is more complex than that of the Democrats and no clear partisan strategy, if any, is known. Their best chance of victory is to win the first three states mentioned which were the closest in 2020: Arizona (won by 10,457 votes), Georgia (by 11,779 votes) and Wisconsin (by 20,682 votes). The significant fact is that they must win all three. In case of losing one, they will be forced to rely on a combination that must include Pennsylvania, the largest of the states in dispute.

Democratic Strategy

The Democratic Party is betting on Joe Biden’s re-election. His campaign’s stated strategy is to protect the states won in 2020 –Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan and New Hampshire – and to try to enlarge the map by expanding his campaign into North Carolina and Florida, where they are already allocating funds. The tactic of placing resources in these last two states may be more associated to wearing down the Republicans by forcing them to defend these states, and not so much to their real chances of victory.

Joe Biden’s campaign has released three memos to date on its 2024 election strategy: May 18, November 2 and December 21, 2023. According to these documents, the strengths of the Biden campaign lie in:

  • The existence of various combinations of electoral maps for victory in 2024, especially from the results of the 2022 midterm elections and other races in key states. Among the examples it mentions are victories in Supreme Court races in Wisconsin, special elections in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, as well as the success of Democratic candidates in mayoral seats previously held by Republicans: Jacksonville and Colorado Springs.
  • The continuing support among sectors of the electorate that contributed to victory in 2020: Black, Latino, Asian, as well as Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander voters[5]. Latinos are relevant in places like Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, while Black, Asian, and NHPI voters will be important in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
  • Increased support among independent and Republican voters, who in the past have not voted Democratic. In particular, rural and white working-class voters in key states, suburban voters (especially motivated by restrictions on reproductive rights) and women over 65. The campaign asserts that the extreme positions that are defining the Republican Party are a major obstacle to its chances of victory in key states, which in turn favors Democratic gains within sectors of the Republican electorate.
  • Biden’s agenda remains popular among voters: protect democracy and the soul of the nation, make the economy work for the middle class and fight for more entitlements. This point is supported by Democratic victories in 2023 in elections where those messages were articulated. The successes of the Biden administration represented the creation of nearly 14 million jobs, investment in infrastructure and the return of U.S. manufacturing, the reduction of inflation from its peak, and success over big pharmaceutical companies to reduce prescription drug prices.
  • Significant levels of fundraising and cash in hand, higher than all other Democratic candidates at this point in the election cycle and over the Republican pre-candidates combined.

Among the main challenges, the campaign highlighted the fragmentation of the media market, the rescue of the youth vote and how to take advantage of the strengthening of the unions. For this purpose, they have relied on an early communication campaign in key states and towards sectors of the electorate, as well as in the surrogates[6]. In this sense, it declares that in the first weeks of the year they will have covered all the leadership positions of the campaign in the key states, necessary to conduct the work with a local focus and establish solid bases in view of the months closer to the elections.

Unlike other recent candidates, such as Barack Obama himself, Biden decided to concentrate his campaign operations, including organizational and fundraising issues, at the Democratic National Committee (DNC). This decision made it possible to channel funds donated to Biden’s campaign to strengthen the Party for the 2022 midterm and 2024 general elections, so that other Democratic candidates in different instances would benefit.

The campaign that gave Biden the victory in 2020 was unique as it occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and after 4 years of Donald Trump at the helm of the White House. This involved, among other issues, a notable reduction in face-to-face campaign events – those that allowed for less public exposure of Biden – greater use of digital platforms, early voting and vote-by-mail facilities, and the impact on the Republican candidate of his chaotic handling of the pandemic.

The fact that Biden’s campaign has mathematically more viable paths to victory is not a guarantee. The current scenario constitutes a challenge due to the contrasts with the one that allowed him to win in 2020, in addition to greater questions about Biden’s age and capabilities. In this sense, it is positive that his campaign initiated early communicative actions in the swing states and the fact that they are organizing a strong surrogacy operation is vital.

On the other hand, the issues the campaign describes as strengths reveal significant fractures which may affect his prospects for success.

Key sectors of the Democratic constituency have begun to undermine Biden’s support, especially African-Americans, Hispanics and young people, as recent polls by Suffolk University/USA Today[7], NBC News[8] and The New York Times/Siena College[9] show. Notably, young people have expressed dissatisfaction with Biden on issues such as climate change, student debt and support for Israel. In addition, support for Biden among independents has also declined[10].

The current president is also betting on protecting American «democracy,» yet only 28% of Americans are satisfied with how it is working. The latest low was after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021[11].

The current president’s approval rating is 39% according to Gallup[12] and the FiveThirtyEight[13] polling average. The figure is low and about 15 points below his approval in the first few months of 2021[14].

In addition, the perception of the state of the economy is negative[15], despite favorable indicators -especially the reduction in unemployment to figures close to full employment[16]– and the implementation of the largest public investment programs in several decades, including two with bipartisan support: infrastructure and semiconductor development. In this, the impact of inflation plays an important role, as it is easily perceptible in sensitive, everyday issues such as the price of gasoline, rent and groceries. In addition, the results of major infrastructure investments take time and Biden is competing with local officials who are claiming credit. Overall, the economy is expected to be a central issue ahead of the 2024 general election.

Biden is a president seeking reelection, with several options within his electoral map, with favorable economic indices, with important legislative initiatives approved and whose possible opponent faces 91 court cases. However, his prospects for victory have tended to weaken: at 81 years old, with multiple mistakes in public interventions, negative polls, low approval ratings, a weakening in key sectors of his electoral base and a scenario different from the one that made him the winner in 2020.

[1] These votes are those contributed by each state to the Electoral College. To win the presidential election, it is necessary to obtain at least 270 electoral votes.

[2] In this case, reference is made to the popular vote

[3] For more information on the swing states:

[4] Midterm elections occur between two general elections, every two years. They elect one-third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives. In 2022, forecasts indicated that Republicans would win a landslide victory; however, Democrats retained control of the Senate and Republicans won a majority in the House, but by a razor-thin margin.

[5] NHPI English initials.

[6] A term that refers to individuals who make public interventions on behalf of a candidate or elected official for the purpose of promoting, defending or explaining the candidate’s agenda. They may be campaign staff, other elected officials, celebrities or experts on certain issues.











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