2024 is Just Around the Corner
There are just 132 days until the 2022 midterm congressional elections — and only 860 days until the 2024 presidential election. The country has been in a state of seemingly perpetual electioneering for what feels like forever -- and unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
In fact, even though the midterms are still months away, both parties — yes, Democrats too — already are speculating about who will (and should) be on the 2024 presidential primary ballots. The talk gained additional steam this past week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The president, after all, nominates the people who will sit on the Supreme Court and with one justice promising to use Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as leverage to potentially overturn other substantive due process-related cases, the court will not only be an important factor in this November’s Senate elections (since senators vote whether to confirm or reject Supreme Court nominations), it will undoubtedly be a factor in the 2024 presidential election as well.
Before we get to the list of potential 2024 contenders, we cannot ignore the political fallout from Dobbs. Here is what we know so far.
The 2022 Landscape Post-Dobbs
As Voice of America news wrote today, “The abortion debate consumed the nation this week, but there was no race where it mattered more than Colorado’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.” The GOP primary featured two candidates, including businessman Joe O’Dea, who supports abortion rights.
O’Dea was victorious in his primary yesterday even though Democrats spent more than $4 million to help his opponent, Rep. Ron Hanks, a Trump loyalist who opposes abortion rights. This race, where incumbent Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet is defending his seat, will be one of the toughest of the 2022 election cycle. Democrats did not want Sen. Bennet to face the more moderate O’Dea, who was perceived as having a higher likelihood of attracting independent voters in a general election than Hanks.
Initial public polls after the Dobbs ruling show voters may be animated by Dobbs and therefore more likely to vote. According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, when asked how important it is for a 2022 midterm candidate to support abortion access, 62 percent of respondents said it is very or somewhat important while just 29 percent said it is not too important or not important at all. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found 56 percent of Americans are worried Dobbs could be used to overturn other rights.
Additionally, an article in U.S. News and World noted that, in a Marist poll released in April 2022, Republicans were ahead of Democrats 47 percent to 44 percent on the generic congressional ballot question for this year’s elections. This question asks prospective voters which candidate in general, Republican or Democrat, the voter would rather support. A Marist poll released earlier this week, after the Dobbs decision, found Democrats now have a seven-point advantage on this question. Forty-eight percent of voters now say they would rather vote for a Democrat while 41 percent said they would favor the Republican candidate.
That’s a really significant shift in a short period of time. But Democrats shouldn’t celebrate yet, according to a Roll Call elections strategist who has warned it might be too early to tell how the Supreme Court’s decision last week will impact the midterm congressional elections. Nathan Gonzales noted, “[T]he Marist poll has consistently been friendly to Democrats. It gave Democrats an eight-point edge way back in September and even a 5-point advantage (47 percent to 42 percent) more recently in May.”
Indeed, overall the FiveThirtyEight congressional generic ballot average of polls still has Republicans with a 1.9 percentage point lead on the generic ballot question. That compares to a 2.3 percentage point lead last Wednesday. There also was this news from The Associated Press earlier this week: prior to the Dobbs decision, more than one million voters across 43 states have switched their registration to “Republican” over the last year.
Perhaps these numbers are why some Democrats are thinking more about who is the right person to have at the top of the ballot in November 2024. They will need a candidate who can rally voters in an electorate that seems to be trending toward the GOP.
Will Joe Biden Run In 2024?
Access to abortion is not an insignificant issue to Americans’ choices for president. Indeed, according to a 2016 Gallup survey, one-fifth of voters say the candidate for whom they vote must share their views on this issue, irrespective of what those views are.
Since well before he was sworn in as president, there has been talk that President Joe Biden might not run for a second term. He is, after all, the oldest person to have ever served as commander in chief. The president’s low approval rates, due in large part to high rates of inflation that show no signs of slowing, have only exacerbated speculation that President Biden will be a one-term president by choice. Despite this speculation, the President and his advisers continue to insist that Biden intends to run for re-election in 2024.
To rally the voters who supported him in 2020, President Biden will not only have to find a way to whip inflation now — he also will have to find ways to, post-Dobbs, demonstrate to his 2020 supporters that the President is committed to fighting for reproductive health access. If he does not, a challenge from his left flank becomes even more likely. That’s why, despite the important G-7 meeting that took place in Europe this week amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, you have seen administration officials working overtime to illustrate the Biden administration’s commitment to this issue.
But, if that changes, there are quite a few prominent Democrats who may seek to succeed him. The obvious choice to run in President Biden’s place would be Vice President Kamala Harris. This week, The Hill provided five other “under the radar” potential candidates. They are:
Sen. Sherrod Brown, the labor and consumer rights champion from the swing state of Ohio. Sen. Brown, who is up for reelection in 2024, currently chairs the Senate Banking Committee so has ample experience when it comes to financial and economic matters. A Democratic strategist told The Hill, “When we talk about new faces and fresh blood, and what it means to be a Democrat in the traditional sense, he checks all the boxes. The only thing he really lacks is name recognition.”
Stacey Abrams, who currently is running for governor in Georgia. Abrams was one of President Biden’s top choices for vice president. While Georgia has become less of a “red state,” it still is GOP-friendly. If Abrams can pull off a victory this fall, she is a strong contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. One thing she lacks: a strong record of experience on economic issues, which are sure to be front and center in the 2024 campaign. Abrams’ home state of Georgia will give her a platform to illustrate what a post-Dobbs country looks like, however. In fact, in a television appearance last Sunday, Abrams pledged to reverse the state’s abortion ban if she becomes governor after November.
Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif.) is a close colleague and friend of former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), but, according to The Hill, “While he shares much of the ideology of the left, his fiercest supporters say Khanna has something that some other progressives lack: an eagerness to work with those who have opposing views within the party.” Rep. Khanna also is a fresh face. He is just 45 years old.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is up for reelection this fall. U.S. voters like candidates with chief executive experience (Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter all were governors) and Gov. Whitmer has done well in a state that is somewhat of a tossup, especially since she took a relatively middle line on pandemic-related restrictions. Immediately after last week’s Dobbs decision, Gov. Whitmer filed a motion before her state supreme court to protect abortion access.
Mitch Landrieu, the former New Orleans mayor, is another contender. According to The Hill, Democrats see the former mayor, who has been a senior administration adviser during implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law, “as able to bring together new groups of voters.”
Who Republicans Will Run For President In 2024?
On the GOP side, former President Donald Trump has not ruled out running again. According to The Hill, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is Trump’s biggest competition for the GOP nomination — above even former Vice President Mike Pence, who The Hill believes is also likely to enter the race.
Who could challenge these three?
Former United Nations Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is one good bet. Though she served in the Trump administration, she has been critical of the former commander-in-chief. “She is just an attractive political figure,” Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party in Texas, told The Hill. “She is conservative, but she does that in a way that is persuasive.” According to Politico, Haley already has been outlining her post-Dobbs reproductive health platform.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also might think it’s his time — even though he is up for reelection in 2024. Cruz, the last major GOP candidate to exit the race in 2016 before then-candidate Donald Trump won the primary, has made no secret of his interest in running again. While Sen. Cruz was a staunch supporter once President Trump was in the White House, he was a vocal adversary during the 2016 primary and he could turn against the former commander in chief again. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a former member of Congress who loudly opposed pandemic-related lockdowns, is another conservative who might be on the 2024 Republican primary ballot.
Other GOP contenders include former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Pompeo is a former CIA director and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but he has never run for statewide, much less national, office. Sen. Scott, the Senate’s only Black Republican has a record working with Democrats on issues like policing reform, but is often described in Washington as being too nice to win the primary.
While 2024 seems like it is a long way off, in political years it is just around the corner.