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Dems betting on a very bad 81 year old candidate / president retaining the White House

There are about seven months until Election Day, but right now, Donald Trump’s road to victory in the 2024 presidential race looks surprisingly smooth.

A Winning Formula

If you’re an incumbent president running for reelection like Joe Biden, you definitely want to have a job-approval rating higher than 39.1 percent. As grim as that figure seems, that’s actually a bit higher than it has been in recent weeks.

If you’re Biden, you would prefer that people rate the state of the economy highly — they do not — and that they think the country is on the right track instead of headed in the wrong direction. Those numbers are similarly grim for an incumbent president.

If you’re Biden, you would prefer to be ahead in the head-to-head matchups in national polls, with or without the likely third-party candidates such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West, and Jill Stein.

You would prefer to consistently lead in swing states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. That is not the case. You can find a good poll for Biden here and there, but the majority point to Trump leads — usually narrow, but sometimes not-so-narrow. A Fox News survey released March 27 had Trump ahead in Pennsylvania, 50 percent to 45 percent.

If you’re the Biden campaign, you’d like to see some poll numbers pointing to a chance to pick off a reddish state or two like Florida, Iowa, or North Carolina. So far, those numbers aren’t there.

If you’re pulling for Biden, you might even wonder if there was a chance of winning four of Maine’s electoral votes instead of only three, and realize that’s looking like a long shot, too. In fact, Maine as a whole could well turn red this year, at least based upon one poll conducted in mid February.

If you’re the Biden campaign, and you’re looking for recently competitive states that look pretty secure, you’re limited to Minnesota and New Hampshire. (Trump lost Minnesota by just 1.5 percent back in 2016.)

Add it all up, and you have a formula for Donald Trump winning more than 270 electoral votes in November.

Can things change and turn around? Absolutely. But Biden’s hopes rely on people who have already rejected him on some level changing their mind and signing up for another four years of his administration. While voters have a wide variety of concerns about Biden, the most widely shared one is that Biden is just too old for another four years in office. Earlier this year, an ABC news poll found that an astounding 86 percent of Americans think Biden is too old to serve another term.

For perspective, 81 percent of Americans have positive feelings about Thanksgiving, and 78 percent have positive feelings about Christmas and Mother’s Day.

A Biden victory in 2024 will require at least some voters who currently think Biden is too old for another term to get comfortable with Biden’s age, or with the prospect of Vice President Kamala Harris taking over in the near future.

People know what they think of Joe Biden. They know what they think of Donald Trump, too. I am skeptical of the notion that a criminal conviction of Donald Trump will suddenly change the polling numbers dramatically. The overwhelming majority of Americans know that Donald Trump was impeached twice, that he was a notorious adulterer, and that over the past three decades, he’s been involved in more than 4,000 lawsuits — both suing others and being sued himself.

Most voters recall Trump touting some cabinet member or staffer and boasting that he only hires the best people, only to start raging about them after they leave on bad terms. They know that Trump is a magnet for almost every kind of scandal imaginable, and that his social-media feed is an endless litany of tantrums, complaints, conspiracy theories, lies, and idle speciation about past wrongs to him justifying “termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” (Hey, what’s the presidential oath of office again?)

Trump supporters may not know about every scandal and allegation, but they know about most of them and they either dismiss all of them or find them inconsequential compared to the prospects of another four years of Biden — or President Harris.

Just about anyone who is inclined to jump off the Trump bandwagon has done so already. He ranks among the most polarizing in American history. As of this morning, in the FiveThirtyEight average, 42.8 percent of respondents feel favorably toward Trump, and 52.5 percent feel unfavorably toward him, making him simultaneously quite unpopular and more popular than Biden and Harris.

Are there good reasons for Republicans to worry? Sure. The RNC looks spectacularly underfunded, and is prioritizing paying Trump’s legal bills. So far, 3.8 million Republicans, independents, and crossover Democrats have voted for Nikki Haley in the GOP presidential primary; Trump hasn’t expressed the slightest interest in reaching out to those voters. The fundamentals of the 2022 election — presidential-approval rating, right track/wrong direction numbers, perception of the state of the economy — all pointed to a red wave, but it didn’t materialize because the general electorate was not interested in MAGA candidates talking about election conspiracies and insisting Trump had won the 2020 election. Many Republican candidates like to believe that they speak for the “silent majority.” Well, if your silent majority doesn’t show up to vote, it may as well not exist.

But as unorthodox a candidate as Trump is, he’s running on the same message as every other challenger: “Everything stinks right now, and to change it, you need to elect me.” Variations of that message worked for Biden four years ago, for Trump (Hillary Clinton was a quasi-incumbent in 2016 as the continuation of Barack Obama’s policies), and for Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

At first glance, Biden and his supporters will argue that as the general-election campaign heats up, the electorate will see more of Trump and be reminded why they didn’t vote for him in 2020. And that’s always a possible scenario.

But he’s up against a man who chose to mark Transgender Day of Visibility and Easter with one tweet each; who has managed to alienate both Jews and Muslims with his shifting policies toward Israel; whose ability to win votes among African Americans is not what it once was; who’s quietly cutting funding for Medicare Advantage; whose son is a tax cheat, irresponsible gun owner, and a crook; who apologized for referring to an illegal immigrant as “an illegal”; and who is presiding over the worst inflation in more than a generation and a border policy that has proven disastrous and near-anarchic.

In other words, the Democrats’ hopes for retaining the White House rely on 81-year-old Joe Biden suddenly becoming a much better president and candidate than he has been thus far.

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