Sunday, February 25, 2024

DOES TRUMP IN 2024 = BUSH IN 1992?

Here's the new pundit hotness:

So is Trump effectively an incumbent who's running a weak race? Is he Jimmy Carter in 1980 or George Bush in 1992? Does that mean he'll lose in November?

Maybe -- but those earlier incumbents aren't exactly comparable. It's not just the fact that they were literally incumbents. It's also the fact that their primary challengers did well despite the fact that few if any voters were crossing party lines to vote for them. There was a real Republican contest in 1980 and a real Democratic contest in 1992. This year, Biden's nomination is inevitable, so there's no real Democratic contest, and so there's significant Democratic and independent crossover voting in the Republican contests.

After the Iowa caucuses, much was made of entrance poll results indicating that 43% of Haley's voters intend to vote for Joe Biden in November, but as I told you at the time, 39% of Haley voters chose Biden in the last election. In New Hampshire, according to exit polling, Trump won 74% of registered Republicans, while Haley won 88% of registered Democrats and 60% of independents. And here are the South Carolina numbers:
Mr. Trump was crushing Ms. Haley with 73 percent support among Republicans to her 26 percent. She was still winning 54 percent of independents, but they made up only 21 percent of the electorate, while roughly seven in 10 voters were Republican.
The other reason Trump might not be Jimmy Carter in 1980 or George Bush in 1992 is that a certain percentage of voters don't vote for a candidate, they vote for change. In 1980, voting for change meant voting against Carter; in 1992, it meant voting against Bush. In 2024, it means voting for Trump. According to the Real Clear Polling average, only 24% of Americans think the country is heading in the right direction; 65.9% think it's heading in the wrong direction. So this really could be a change election.

In order for Biden to win under those conditions, either the direction-of-the-country numbers need to improve or Biden has to persuade voters that the particular change on offer would be very, very bad. I don't think Biden has much control over the former, but for the latter, he has quite a bit to work with.

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