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OPINION

The Election Choices No One Wants?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

I don’t care who the Republicans nominate, I’m voting for them. Everyone in the field, now or in the future, will have my vote over any Democrat on the planet. That does not begin to capture how gleefully I will vote against Joe Biden or whatever other Democrat they put up there should the left-wing industrial complex be unable to “Weekend at Bernie’s” him to their nomination, but really nothing can capture that enthusiasm. It probably can’t capture your either. But does not mean the 2024 election is a formality, far from it. As I always say, never spike the football on the 5-yard-line. November is a long way away, and polls indicate there is a huge swath of the voting public who doesn’t want any of the leading candidates. That doesn’t mean that’s how it will end, but the 2024 election is shaping up to be the election no one wants, at least as of right now.

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I get that this is an unpopular opinion – tempering enthusiasm with reality always is – but it needs to be said, so I’ll say it. Polls show a majority of the population does not want Joe Biden to run again, which probably makes you smile. But they also show a large majority don’t want Donald Trump to either. That is quite possibly data you will dismiss. 

Both are true, and both need to at least be considered if you’re going to cast a vote in the primary next year.

I have to start off by pointing out that polling data at this point is only useful in understanding where the public is now, and not a single vote will be cast for 8 months, so…

To that end, however, knowing where the public is now is useful information to have. Keeping tabs on that allows you to track where sentiment is going and can allow campaigns to shift tactics to try to right the ship. Only we have 2 leading candidates who’ve never done that and likely never will. 

A new NBC News poll (I know, but they’re all about the same in general and they asked from more in-depth questions that are telling) shows Joe Biden is wildly unpopular – only a 41 percent approval rating versus a 54 percent disapproval. Ideally, that bodes well for Republicans, but Biden and Democrats were as unpopular before the 2022 elections and we all know how well that worked out. Being unpopular doesn’t mean the other side wins if the other side is just as unpopular too, or they only offer “We’re not them!” as a campaign message. You need to give people in the middle (those who decide elections) something to vote for, not just against, or they’ll stay home.

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The poll also asked if Biden should run for reelection, only 26 percent said yes with 70 percent saying no. Again, seemingly good news for Republicans. But they asked the same question about Trump, with 35 percent saying yes and 60 percent saying no

Those are better numbers for Trump, but not great. A lot of people in that race, with that lack of enthusiasm, would stay home, and Democrats are very good at motivating their base to show up. That’s a problem for Republicans.

Another problem for Republicans and the Trump train is the way people “feel” about him compared to Biden. It’s a stupid metric, but it is true that a lot of people vote based on feelings and not logic. 

When asked for their feelings about Biden, 38 percent had positive feelings and 48 percent answered negatively. The numbers were almost the same for Democrats, with 36 percent positive and 46 percent negative. If you just heard those numbers you’d feel pretty good about 2024, but there’s always another side to this sort of coin.

For Republicans, only 33 percent had positive feelings about them and 43 percent had negative ones. That’s sort of in line with Democrats, within the margins of error when taken together. And for Trump, there was 34 percent positive feelings, which isn’t that far from Biden, when taking into consideration the margin of error there too. 

However, when it comes to negative feelings about Trump, he stands at 53 percent, far and away worse than the others. That’s a reality with which he’s going to have to contend, and how he chooses to do it, if he chooses to do it at all, will be the deal-breaker for him in 2024.

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There is a large percentage of the population who don’t follow politics at all, but they vote. They get what information they do get from the left-wing media, which dwarfs conservative media in total numbers by a huge ratio. They may agree with Trump and Republicans on some issues, but if they don’t hear about it or those are issues that motivate their votes, it won’t matter one bit. 

What the Trump team has to reconcile with is the fact that there are a lot of people who are simply exhausted by him. He was fresh and new in 2016, the type of candidate I’d always wanted but never thought I’d see – one who talks like a normal person and doesn’t pull punches or point with their thumb. He’s still that guy, but we’ve all seen that guy. He needs to articulate what he wants to do as president a second time, with specifics than simply make it great again.

That new candidate smell is gone from Trump, he has to offer more than just him. He’s got his base, and they are wildly loyal to him. But they are nowhere near enough to win a presidential election. Biden is in the same boat, but his team knows he’s less disliked than Trump is and they’re counting on that and the searing hatred for Trump Democrats created to carry him over the line. It might. Unless Trump stops exclusively preaching to his choir and firing down his own trench at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (using the detestable Joy Reid, of all people, to do it) and focus on what he will do differently while launching salvos at Democrats and only Democrats. 

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