Elections
A democracy tied to two geriatric and unpopular candidates
By Mark P. Jones
Super Tuesday consecrates Trump and exposes the crossroads of a discredited Biden, who cannot find replacements. Tribalism is imposed so as not to change and deepens the decadence.

 The morning of March 6 marks the de facto beginning of the 2024 presidential campaign in the United States. With Donald Trump's landslide victory over Nikki Haley across the 15 Republican Super Tuesday primary and caucus states there is no doubt whatsoever that he will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee in November (barring a health issue). And, with President Joe Biden fully committed to being the Democratic Party nominee in November (barring a health issue or change of heart), the United States is now set for a presidential election like no other with Americans' only viable options at the polls being two geriatric and unpopular candidates.

Biden is 81 years old while Trump is 77. Up until Biden's election in 2020 at the age of 77, the oldest person to be elected president of the United States was Ronald Reagan in 1984 at the age of 73. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll found 73% of registered voters believe Biden is too old to be an effective president, with 42% having the same opinion about Trump.

While there is little doubt that barring death or incapacity, Trump will be the Republican Party's nominee, until Biden is formally nominated in the Democratic National Convention in late August, his candidacy as well as possible replacements will continue to be the subject of endless speculation. At the present time though, the most likely scenario for the fall is that Biden will be the Democratic nominee. This is due to Biden's strong desire to run for re-election combined with the Democratic conundrum of how to remove Biden as the party's presidential standard bearer without Vice President Kamala Harris becoming the party's nominee, since the only Democrat who polls worse against Trump than Biden is Harris. 

El sistema político está enfermo y ya no funciona

For a Democratic Party in which identity politics is akin to a new religion, removing a woman of color who is Biden's natural successor in order to better the party's chances of defeating Trump in November would be considered blasphemy by a significant share of the party's base.

Until Biden is formally nominated in the Democratic National Convention in late August, his candidacy as well as possible replacements will continue to be the subject of endless speculation. 

Both Biden and Trump are underwater with American voters, with more having an unfavorable than favorable opinion of each. The New York Times/Siena College poll found that Trump is viewed unfavorably by 54% of registered voters and favorably by 44%, while Biden is viewed unfavorably by 59% and favorably by 38%. Biden thus has a net unfavorable rating of 21% that is double that of Trump (10%). 

A democracy tied to two geriatric and unpopular candidates

Furthermore, while Trump's unfavorable and favorable percentages in February 2024 (54% vs. 44%) are nearly identical to those immediately prior to the November 2020 election (54% vs. 43%) in which he was defeated by Biden, Biden's are notably worse, having gone from 52% favorable and 42% unfavorable in October of 2020 to 38% favorable and 59% unfavorable in February of 2024. That said, as Trump's 91 felony charges spread across four criminal court cases wind their way through the legal system as the year progresses, Trump's favorability ratings could fall significantly if he ends up being convicted of any crimes.

In the past 100 years no minor party or independent candidate has won more than 19% of the popular vote (Ross Perot in 1992) or 14% of the seats in the electoral college (George Wallace in 1968). If ever though there were an opening for a third-party candidate, it would be in 2024, with two unpopular and geriatric major party candidates. However, while the No Labels movement (a coalition of disaffected Democrats and Republicans) is currently working to gain access to the ballot in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for a potential 2024 candidate, at the present time there do not appear to be any candidates for the No Labels movement to draft who would have a viable prospect of winning in 2024, or for that matter even finishing in second place. 

Mucho ruido y pocas nueces: por qué será imposible proscribir a Trump

Rather, most observers believe that the only impact that a No Labels candidate would have would be to serve as a spoiler who would gift the election to Trump if it ran a candidate with a Democratic background (such as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin) or to Biden if it ran a candidate with a Republican background (such as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie). And, thus, it is unlikely that No Labels will run a candidate in 2024, which means voters will only have two viable candidates to choose from in November, Biden and Trump, with any vote cast for minor candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jill Stein (Green Party) and the eventual Libertarian Party nominee a pure protest vote.

 The United States is now set for a presidential election like no other with Americans' only viable options at the polls being two geriatric and unpopular candidates.

Absent a Biden change of heart or health, Americans in November will be forced to choose between two very unpopular presidential candidates, one whose mind and body are seriously questioned by a majority of voters and another whose morals and ethics are seriously questioned by a majority of voters. How America's democracy, long a beacon for the world, arrived at this nadir should be leading to a groundswell of support for introspection and reform, but instead the country continues hurtling down a pathway of partisan polarization and tribalism that threatens to further erode the foundation of the country's already damaged democracy.

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