There are certain indicators in national politics that spell doom for a sitting elected official. President Joe Biden’s polling numbers from a wide variety of sources tell us beyond any shadow of a doubt that he and any hopes to push his agenda are both in deep trouble.
After 18 months of Joe Biden in the office on Pennsylvania Avenue, only 13% of Americans think the country is on the right track. That is according to The New York Times/Siena College poll out this week. That number includes all voters including Democrats, Republicans and Independents. 77% said the US is headed in the wrong direction. It’s hard to find anything that nearly 8 out of 10 Americans agree on, but Joe Biden has brought people together in the most negative of ways.
Depending on which poll you look at this past week, Biden’s approval rating is 33%, 30% or 29%. All represent historic lows.
More alarming if you are a Democrat is that traditionally blue constituencies are abandoning Biden and his party. The Civiqs Poll says not only do a strong majority of all Americans disapprove of Biden’s job performance, only 56% of Black Americans approve. Keep in mind Barack Obama got 96% of the Black vote, so though 56% is a majority of African Americans, it means a large chunk of the Democrat’s most loyal voting block is jumping ship.
Inflation is historically high. Interest rates are continuing their dramatic climb, Gas prices are through the roof and supply chain shortages mean you might not be able to find hamburgers or a loaf of bread during your next trip to the grocery store. The border is wide open and no one at the White House seems to be the least bit concerned about it. Crime is soaring and the left’s mantra of “Defund the Police” has proven to be a nightmare.
One would think this would create an extremely fertile territory for Republicans as we enter the fall election cycle of 2022 and start looking at the possibilities of Presidential candidates for 2024, and indeed it has. While careful not to get over-confident, the GOP feels they have an opportunity for a red wave in November if they emphasize inflation, gas prices, foreign policy blunders and Dems inability to focus on any of the above.
In fact, the Democrats have so little to crow about to the voting public that they are spending all their time and effort on January 6 hearings, where day in and day out they bash Donald Trump. They fail to recognize that Trump isn’t on the ballot this fall. Biden’s policies and his left-wing Congress are.
Democrats literally ignore the economy. The White House spokesperson this week refused to talk about alarmingly high inflation numbers, calling them “outdated” despite the fact the official numbers hadn’t even been released when she offered this unusual defense.
Voters’ number one issue is the economy, and more specifically, inflation. Democrats’ number one issue? Donald Trump. Trump was voted out of office in 2020 and isn’t on the ballot this year. Ignore the public’s top concern and focus instead on the bogeyman of 2020? It is a doomed strategy.
Or is it?
History suggests that Donald Trump considers no one other than himself in his decision-making process. A number of former aides to Trump have recently indicated publicly that he absolutely intends to run again.
Former Trump advisor and 2016 Campaign Chief Kellyanne Conway told The Washington Times “If President Trump wants to run in 2024, and he does… he should just look forward and project a vision forward, go to the future and recognize that every great presidential candidate, including him in 2016, has that vision of looking forward and reflects the people’s grievances, not his own grievances, the people’s grievances — their economic, their anxiety and uncertainty, their feeling of … uncertainty and chaos and crisis everywhere we look, and reflect to them that he is the guy who will come and mitigate if not eliminate all of that.”
Take note of her surety, “If President Trump wants to run in 2024, and he does…” Conway went even further, however, “A combination of vintage Trump with those amazing accomplishments in 2020, he can be unstoppable in 2024.” Unstoppable?
Devin Nunes is a former Congressman and current CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group. He is pitching the same line. “If President Trump decides to get in this race and run, the Republican primary, it would be almost impossible for anybody to mount a serious challenge to him.”
I would dispute both of their claims. A majority of Republicans do not want Trump to be their candidate in 2024 and the number is growing. The need to paint a weak candidate as the inevitable victor and sell the public on that claim is as old as politics itself. One recent example would be Hillary Clinton. No one liked her. No one could name a single accomplishment she had achieved either as Secretary of State or as a US Senator. She couldn’t draw a crowd of more than fifty people to hear her stump speech, but her PR team convinced everyone, most importantly, potential rivals, that her candidacy and victory were inevitable. It wasn’t.
If Trump wants to be the GOP nominee in 2024 he will do what he can to discourage rivals from running against him in a primary and to sell the myth of his inevitability. According to MSN, two Trump advisors say the former president is now eyeing an outrageously early announcement that he intends to run again. Outrageously early, as in September of this year, a few weeks before the Congressional elections. Trump’s purpose if he does this, would be to try and clear the GOP Presidential field before one even exists.
The reality is that such a move would likely hand Democrats the only issue that can unite their party and motivate their base while simultaneously giving the media red meat to chew on during the weeks leading up to election day. All those meaningless January 6th Congressional hearings would suddenly become meaningful. Instead of being seen as ignoring the economy and all the other pressing issues, the Democrats really would simply be running against Trump.
For Republicans, it would be an unmitigated disaster. Democrats and the media, currently unable to cheerlead anything Team Biden is doing, would no longer have to. All they would have to do is revert to the “orange man bad” mantra of 2020, turn out their base and bingo! Nancy Pelosi is Speaker for at least two more years.
Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate that can’t beat the Democrats in 2024. Despite President Biden having historically low approval ratings and 2/3 of his own party not wanting him to run again, the very same New York Times poll finds that Biden would beat Trump again if the election were held now, by a full three points. Think about that. The most unpopular President in US history polls ahead of Donald Trump.
Now think of an arrogant former President, so focused on himself, that he would sacrifice his own party’s opportunity to take back control of Congress in hopes of making his own shot at another run for President a little bit easier.
If the sources are correct and Trump does indeed intend to announce for 2024 this September, the Republican Party will have a complete disaster on its hands. Trump will surely damage their Congressional efforts, will spend the following year trashing any credible Republican that shows a hint of interest in running for President, yet ultimately, regardless of whether he gets the nomination or not, will never again be elected by the American people.
If Donald Trump was a statesman who actually cared about his party, he would stand down, support Congressional candidates where he can be helpful and rally his troops to support whomever the 2024 GOP nominee turns out to be.
Donald Trump is not a statesman of course. Trump is rude. Trump is crude. Trump is loud and brash. Most importantly Trump thinks of no one but himself. He’ll burn the conservative movement to the ground with an early Presidential announcement.
• Tim Constantine is a columnist for the Washington Times.
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