Can Trump Overcome Biden in the Presidential Battle?

The 2024 US presidential elections, slated for November 5, may seem distant, but the attention surrounding this event already transcends the usual interest in a potential change of power in Washington. The central factor at play is the potential return of Trump to the White House, which evokes concerns about political turbulence, demagoguery, and irresponsibility. Donald Trump, with his iconic baseball cap, remains a significant figure in the local political landscape, rallying devoted followers.

As the undisputed leader in the Republican Party’s candidate selection process, Trump faces competition from a pool of at least 14 contenders, but the real showdown is likely to unfold between him and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Governor DeSantis embraces staunch conservative stances on crucial domestic issues like immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, gun ownership, abortion rights, and social welfare programs. He aims to present himself as a continuation of Trump’s political legacy but with greater effectiveness and fewer controversies, positioning himself to break the Republican Party’s streak of failures and secure a win in the upcoming elections. This strategy aims to appeal to those within the party who have doubts about the former president’s chances.

Currently, this strategy hasn’t yielded significant results, as Governor DeSantis faces challenges as a communicator, and Trump’s supporters remain firmly committed to their “champion.” DeSantis’ prospects seem less promising than they did after his resounding victory in the gubernatorial elections last year, with Trump’s support among Republican Party members standing strong, trailing the governor’s by nearly 30%.

Despite numerous legal challenges, Trump’s popularity among active Republican Party members remains unwavering. Charges related to document forgery, mishandling confidential materials, and investigations into election interference and events in Washington have not deterred his supporters, who continue to believe in his claims of “political persecution” and “stolen elections.” It is also important to note that, according to current US legislation, even a conviction with imprisonment cannot bar Donald Trump from participating in the presidential elections.

While it is too early to draw final conclusions, the upcoming Republican presidential candidates’ debates in August and DeSantis’ backing from key party donors could influence the race. Additionally, the resolution of legal issues may determine Trump’s viability, either solidifying or weakening his chances. Conversely, many analysts and political experts believe that a successful showing in the first primaries in Iowa would clear the path for Trump’s Republican nomination.

On the Democratic front, only two challengers with minimal chances have confronted Joe Biden. The president’s age remains a significant challenge to his re-election prospects, with many American voters, including Democratic Party supporters, expressing concerns about it.

The current president faces another major challenge in the form of his low approval ratings. As of early July, his popularity remained at around 40%, just slightly below the 41% approval rating that Trump had during a similar period of his presidency. The primary reason for this lies in the realm of economics. Despite enacting laws aimed at modernizing infrastructure, promoting high-tech production, and advancing environmental protection technologies, as well as achieving high employment rates and wage growth, the majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the current state of the economy, comparing it unfavorably to Donald Trump’s tenure. The main contributing factor is the decrease in real incomes caused by inflation. Americans are already feeling the negative effects of inflation, and the impact of the Biden administration’s significant strategic investments in the US industrial base will likely become evident in the medium to long term.

Therefore, the crucial factor influencing Biden’s chances for a new presidential term will hinge on economic developments, which will shape the perspectives of independent voters and a portion of Democratic and Republican Party supporters, for whom their household budget matters more than political priorities.

Recent statistics seem to be favoring the current president: the inflation rate has decreased to 3% compared to 4% in May and 9% last year. Economic experts predicting an economic downturn have significantly diminished. Biden attributes these positive trends to the effects of his economic policies, which he refers to as “Bidenomics.”

While the economy and various social issues typically take the forefront in the US electoral process, foreign policy will play a prominent role in the current presidential campaign, particularly concerning China and Ukraine. The situation in Ukraine holds particular interest for us, as it has transcended the realm of pure foreign policy and could become a significant part of Biden’s personal achievements, upon which he intends to build his election campaign.

At this stage, discussions largely revolve around the extent of assistance to Ukraine, leading to divisions within the Republican Party between the “national-conservative” and “internationalist” factions on this matter. While isolationists are currently in the minority, they demonstrate notable and potentially concerning activity.

A group of ultra-conservatives in the House of Representatives pushed for amendments that would significantly reduce military aid to Ukraine, including a ban on supplying certain types of ammunition, as part of the defense spending bill discussions. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a staunch Trump supporter, authored these amendments, arguing that “Congress should not authorize any additional funds for Ukraine and should compel the Biden administration to seek peace.”

Greene’s amendments were rejected by the House. However, under pressure from the far-right, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who previously expressed support for aid to Ukraine, publicly opposed additional funding if it exceeds the agreed-upon limit of the US national debt. This adds to Trump’s unfavorable radicalization and his leaning towards isolationism, aligning him with his sole real competitor at the moment, DeSantis.

As mentioned earlier, there is a growing trend among Republicans to prioritize resolving internal issues within the US. Surprisingly, recent public opinion polls in the US indicate that the decline in Republican “base” support for providing aid to Ukraine has nearly halted: in May, 57% of Republicans expressed willingness to vote for a presidential candidate who would support Ukraine. Whether this trend will remain stable remains to be seen.

It is essential to recognize that maintaining positive sentiments in American society largely hinges on the developments on the war fronts, the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which heavily relies on the timely supply of long-range missile systems—an issue that Washington has yet to fully resolve.