Only yesterday, President Joe Biden was being written off for 2024. Polls from CNN and the New York Times indicated that Donald Trump handily surpassed him in key battleground states. The sniping began that Biden was too old, too befuddled, too lame.
And now? The victories that the Democrats scored last night don’t mean that Biden will coast to victory. But they suggest that the latest round of handwringing about Biden’s prospects, especially against the dreaded Trump, flies in the face of reality.
Make no mistake: Biden and the Democrats are poised for a fresh triumph in November 2024.
Lunatic Republicans such as former Senator Rick Santorum took to the airwaves to pronounce that the election results disclosed the weakness of “pure democracies.” Sober Republicans such as former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recognized that last night’s results are the latest in a series of electoral failures that have occurred on Trump’s watch. Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia were his handiwork. It was Trump who backed the anti-abortion crusade. It was Trump who appointed the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe. Does Trump rue Roe? He gives every indication of backpedaling (witness his remarks about a six-week ban in Florida) but that will only further demoralize the GOP.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, touted by the Washington Post as the challenger to Trump, tried to straddle the debate with a proposed 15-week ban, but his ploy flopped. Youngkin has a glass jaw. He not only failed to capture the Senate but also lost the House, a stinging defeat that will capsize any presidential hopes he may have harbored.
Poor Youngkin. Far from basking in the warm glow of the mainstream media, he will be pummeled over the next two years.
Trump, who hates being associated with losers, will claim that he, and he alone, can rescue the GOP by animating his base to a record turnout in 2024. Don’t believe a word of it. What the Biden Democrats have demonstrated is their ability to propel turnout by waging their culture war against widely unpopular Republican stands. Any sentient Republican has to recognize that Trump has been an unmitigated disaster who has steered the GOP into one electoral iceberg after another.
Yet the Republican Party appears intent on compounding the damage with a looming government shutdown. Both House speaker Mike Johnson and Trump seem to be doing everything in their power to ensure Biden’s reelection. Maybe Biden can’t go on cruise control. But as Trump careens from one courtroom to the next and as the House GOP flounders, Biden’s path to a second term may start looking a lot smoother than his detractors had assumed.
Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He has written on both foreign and domestic issues for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Reuters, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard. He has also written for German publications such as Cicero, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Der Tagesspiegel. In 2008, his book They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons was published by Doubleday. It was named one of the one hundred notable books of the year by the New York Times. He is the author of America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators, coming in 2024.