You could call it the incredibly shrinking case–or cases–for electability when it comes to Donald Trump and 2024.
Electability has been the big argument for any Republican candidate challenging Donald Trump for his party’s nomination in 2024–or at least the mainstream ones.
Mike Pence, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley–and of course Ron DeSantis–also seem like safer bets not to blow it against President Joe Biden.
Yet, that’s not what the numbers say. The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Trump leading Biden by 2.4%. Two polls, Rasmussen, and a Harvard-Harris poll, show Trump leading Biden by 6 points. Maybe those are outliers. But it doesn’t look great for Biden. The Economist/YouGov polls show the two candidates tied at 41%.
The best Biden can do against Trump is a 4-point lead in the Quinnipiac University poll. Even here, the margin-of-error is 2.2%. So, it’s almost a dead heat.
What’s important is that all but one of these surveys came AFTER Trump was indicted on federal charges for allegedly mishandling classified information. The first day of the Quinnipiac poll ran for four days (June 8-12), but started the same day Trump was indicted. So at least some of the respondents were not aware of the charges, even if most were.
Logically and rationally, if conservatives want to save America from another four years of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, it’s time to move on.
It’s no secret Biden and most Democrats want to run against Trump. It still seems Biden cannot energize the Democrat base to turnout unless he’s running against a villain that he can easily demonize. The president is not an inspiring figure, but irrational hate from the Left could drive out enough people to vote against Trump if not for Biden.
My gut says that almost any of these GOP primary opponents—DeSantis and all the others polling in single digits—would have an easy time beating Biden, whereas Trump probably couldn’t. Some of these same polls show Trump with higher unfavorable ratings than Biden.
Logically speaking, if the debate is about Biden’s job–he loses. If the debate is about Trump’s obnoxious antics, well, Biden could win despite everything.
The fact is, the indictments aren’t hurting Trump in either the primary or general election polling. Of course, we knew the Manhattan indictment over the Stormy Daniels case and the special counsel’s charges for the documents would likely help Trump among primary voters. But the presumption is that it would hurt among general election voters.
But after Democrats cried wolf so many times, even independents and moderates became doubtful.
Maybe the charges don’t help Trump among swing voters as they do with Republican voters, who are sure their beloved Donald is being railroaded. But many voters that say Trump is guilty as sin also say the indictment is political, according to a Reuters Ipsos poll.
Much to the contrary of what we might have presumed, there is some evidence the indictment is damaging Trump more among primary voters–nominally so–than among general election voters. Post-indictment, Trump slid six points among Republican primary voters, according to a CNN poll out Tuesday, but nevertheless holds a 47-point lead over DeSantis.
In theory, a candidate lacking the Trump baggage would be a better opponent for Biden. And keep in mind, in late 2022, DeSantis was leading Trump. Now DeSantis is polling no better in his party’s primary than Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is polling in his. And RFK Jr. is a nut.
Also, that same Harvard-Harris polls showed DeSantis beating Biden by just one point, 41%-40%, compared to Trump’s 6-point lead.
The problem is that most Americans already have a fixed impression of Trump. No event is likely to change that.
It’s still a long way to the first primary. And keep in mind the parallel that at this point in 2007, we were promised a 2008 general election between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.
Still, this reality show premiered in 2015, and it’s been on our TVs and computer screens every day since. It could just be that there is no stopping Trump in the primary. And smart Democrats must be hedging their bets a little on how badly they want to run against Trump in the general.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie.