Who will run for president in 2024? Can Biden or Trump win? | Opinion

President Biden stands in a navy blue suit with a hand held up to his chin in contemplation.

President Joe Biden is photographed on July 28, 2022. Many wonder who will win the presidential nominations for the Republican and Democratic parties. Will we end up with Trump and Biden again?

Susan Walsh, Associated Press

Despite big problems, both President Joseph Biden and former President Donald Trump have in some ways enjoyed a reasonably good August — so far. Both have terribly low approval ratings, but both have shown resiliency.

Trump may be in trouble with the U.S. Department of Justice, but he remains the most popular Republican and the favorite to win the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Biden, meanwhile, has a majority of Democrats hoping he won’t seek r-election, but he has enjoyed a string of recent legislative wins.

So, what’s up with these two old guys? 

Both Trump and Biden will break records for age if they run again in 2024. Why are these octogenarians dominating the presidential field? Can’t the nation do better?

Pignanelli: “We find (in our study) that people are happy to support older candidates in elections, but are less likely to approve of their performance in office.” — Jennifer Wolak, Damon Roberts, Political Behavior  

Aging politicians are like old shoes — worn, comfortable and preferred if no easy alternative exists. (Elderly lobbyists do not enjoy similar deference.) Although unknown in the modern era, the events Americans are witnessing in the national political arena have deep historical precedent. From 1800 to the late 20th century, prior presidents and former nominees often haunted their parties’ nomination activities for one more chance.

Other dynamics are also at play. Both Trump and Biden were elected because of who they were not (Trump was not Hillary Clinton and the D.C. establishment, Biden was not Trump). Polls reveal most Americans want neither Trump nor Biden to run again but few identify replacements. The realignment of ideologies and demographics among the two major parties is still occurring, thereby hampering the breakout of new leaders. In this vacuum Biden and Trump are the de facto champions.

History is repeating the preference for old shoes by voters nervous about potentially ill-fitting substitutes.

Webb: It is depressing to think that these two dinosaurs may once again be the candidates for president in 2024. As an old dinosaur myself, I believe it’s time for them to slink off and allow a new generation of leaders to take over.

If Trump somehow managed to win, I would welcome him reversing course on Biden’s liberal policies. But I no longer trust his judgement, especially when it comes to world affairs. He lost my support when he damaged the Republican Party and the cause of conservatism by continuing to falsely claim (to this day) that the 2020 election was stolen.

We have entered an extremely perilous time in foreign affairs. Russia is at war with Ukraine and China threatens war with Taiwan. Both bluster about severe consequences and war expansion if the U.S. and its allies make the wrong moves. Without tough, but level-headed and thoughtful leadership, we could be facing World War III with nuclear weapons in the mix.

While Biden’s leadership in foreign affairs hotspots has been abysmal, especially his disastrous retreat from Afghanistan, Trump is far too erratic and impulsive to trust leading the world at this time. In these scary times, neither Trump or Biden can provide the leadership we need.

Politically, this is a time of great opportunity for Republicans. The House, Senate and the presidency (in 2024) are waiting to be taken. The only person who can mess up GOP chances for victory is Trump.

Rumors abound that Trump will announce his reelection bid even before the midterm elections in November. This despite pressure from GOP candidates who worry it would hurt their chances to take control of Congress. If Trump does announce soon, how will this impact Utah’s November elections, especially for the U.S. Senate?

Pignanelli: If Trump reveals before November, independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin will pounce fast. He will leverage the fear of a second Trump presidency, and the need for him to be in the Senate to push back, as fundraising and “get out the vote” tactics. Yet, McMullin benefits only if Sen. Mike Lee is unable to counter that the challenger’s actions again demonstrate a bend against conservative principles.

Down ballot Democrats may receive a slight bump from voters incentivized by an aggressive McMullin push. Regardless, the coming red wave in Utah will not be hampered by an early Trump declaration.

Webb: If Trump announces before November it will be proof that he doesn’t care at all about Republican candidates and what’s best for the party. He only cares about himself and staying continually in the spotlight. If the GOP does not win control of the Senate, it will be Trump’s fault for endorsing bad candidates.

Is there a chance that other candidates may try for the presidency regardless of Trump or Biden?

Pignanelli: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis possesses the fortitude to challenge Trump. Moderate Republican Govs. John Kasich (Ohio) and Larry Hogan (Maryland) may take the plunge. Democrats love to grumble about Biden, and no challenger has yet to step forward. But rumors are circulating about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Webb: A number of Republicans will try to compete with Trump. Someone from the far left will likely challenge Biden. But Biden and Trump, unfortunately, are the odds-on favorites to win the nominations.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a former journalist and a semiretired small farmer and political consultant. Email:[email protected].

Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser who served as a Democrat in the Utah state Legislature. Email: [email protected].

Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb

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