We’re only at the end of January 2023, but November 2024 is already looming over us.
With the midterms in the rearview mirror, the 2024 Republican primary is already beginning to kick into gear, as former President Donald Trump jumped into the race on November 15th. In response, other prospective Republican candidates are subtly and not-so-subtly maneuvering to get in as well.
We even got a report last week that the RNC is discussing holding televised debates this summer with a number of TV networks: including ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC, Newsmax and News Nation. I, for one, was skeptical that we’d still see debates after the RNC turned against the Committee on Presidential Debates. Nevertheless, despite what happens in the general, it appears there will be primary debates this cycle.
Since we can expect a steadily growing avalanche of 2024 election news over this year, here’s the 2024 news you may have missed.
Let’s start this off with the man currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It seems to always be a bit of a ‘best of times, worst of times’ situation with the Biden Administration. Coming off a historically-strong midterm performance, the albatross that’s hung around the neck of the White House for so long – our inflation rate – continues to steadily decline. Suddenly a ‘soft landing’ for the economy, where inflation is lowered without causing a recession, appears to be a real possibility.
Of course, the last four Presidents to lose re-election (Donald Trump, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover) all dealt with recessions. Therefore, if a recession doesn’t develop over the next 22 months, Biden should be in a historically strong position.
At the same time, though, President Biden is now burdened with his own classified documents controversy. The White House, while bitter at this turn of events, doesn’t view it as a significant setback and expects this episode to eventually blow over.
Through it all, Biden’s approval rating made a steady climb last month, hitting 44% in the FiveThirtyEight average for the first time since October 2021. Yet in the last few days it’s taken a bit of a dip, so we’ll have to wait and see if he’s taking a sustained hit because of the documents case.
If you’ve lost track of the specifics, Special Counsel Jack Smith is leading the DOJ’s investigations of both Trump’s involvement in the January 6th insurrection and his mishandling of classified documents. Meanwhile, the Fulton County DA’s office is also investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there. Suffice to say, any indictment of Trump would have a profound impact on the 2024 campaign.
Expect to hear plenty about all those investigations when Trump returns to CPAC in the first week of March. We’ll also likely get our first look at Trump’s plan of attack against his GOP rivals, especially Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. According to Asawin Suebsaeng and Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone, Trump is already getting ready to hit DeSantis on Social Security, trade and foreign policy.
Additionally, Trump recently delivered an ominous warning to DeSantis when he was asked about the Governor’s probable 2024 candidacy: “So, now I hear he might want to run against me. So, we’ll handle that the way I handle things.”
The Florida Governor is the central conundrum of this 2024 presidential cycle, as every participant and observer is weighing whether Ron DeSantis has what it takes to defeat Donald Trump in the Republican primary.
It’s clear DeSantis is betting on a culture war strategy to outflank Trump, and we can see that in a trio of examples from just this past week. First, the Florida Department of Education rejected a new A.P. course on African-American studies. Then, the DeSantis Administration requested information on all those who received gender-affirming treatment at state universities. Finally, his press secretary called out the NHL for a diversity hiring program.
Are these tactics working? Well, a new Morning Consult poll of Republican primary voters finds Trump with a 17-point lead over DeSantis (48% to 31%). So while DeSantis is definitely Trump’s toughest competition right now, he’s still by no means the favorite in this contest. Furthermore, Florida Senator Rick Scott is sizing up his own 2024 campaign, a long-shot effort that would give Scott an opportunity to exact revenge against his in-state rival.
The former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador, who once pledged not to run in 2024 if Donald Trump entered the race, has apparently changed her mind. In a Fox News interview with Bret Baier, Haley revealed that she’s on the verge of jumping into the 2024 race.
Her TV hit was overshadowed, however, by a revelation from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s new memoir. Pompeo alleged that Haley, alongside Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, hatched a plot to replace Mike Pence on the 2020 ticket. Haley denied the charge, but given her close relationship with Ivanka and Jared, it certainly sounds plausible.
Speaking of Mike Pompeo, it’s not a coincidence that the former Secretary of State is releasing his memoir now, as Pompeo has long imagined himself to be of Presidential timber. In said book, Pompeo also apparently alleges that Trump ordered him to stop criticizing China in March 2020 because, during the early days of the COVID pandemic, the U.S. was reliant on protective equipment from China.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Donald Trump didn’t give Pompeo a coveted book blurb. No matter, Pompeo instead chose to advertise his book with his own promotional quote; a decision that earned him quite a bit of ridicule on Twitter.
In the aforementioned Morning Consult poll, the distant third-place finisher is former Vice President Mike Pence with 8%. This would suggest that Pence’s own book tour didn’t do much to rehab his image among die-hard Trump supporters. Nevertheless, Pence seemingly remains committed to a 2024 campaign.
The best path forward for Pence, of course, would be to convince the evangelicals to fully rally behind him; a suddenly legitimate possibility given the growing rift between that community and their former champion Donald Trump.
Finally, Pence scored a recent victory when he convinced one of Nikki Haley’s top staffers to jump over to his side.