Predictions favour a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, but the outcome will be different from 2020

It was a wonderful Christmas at our house on Monday. Good company, good food, good cheer, good presents and a good amount of rest and relaxing. The weather wasn’t very Christmassy in Toronto, however. One of the greenest in my lifetime. Not a drop of the white fluffy stuff to be seen. El Niño’s warming effect could turn this into one of Canada’s milder winters. Hence, many Canadians weren’t able to take a walk in the snow. This includes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – and in more ways than one. There’s a long-standing association between Canada’s political leaders and taking a walk in the snow. Why? In a nutshell, if someone in the former category is struggling in some capacity (ie. significant drop in the polls, keeping the party caucus united), he or she should take a walk outside in the snowy weather – or any type of weather – to contemplate his or her political future. The first Canadian politician who took this walk was the PM’s late father. Pierre Trudeau famously recounted his fateful walk in a winter wonderland during a press scrum on Feb. 29, 1984, the day he announced his decision to leave political life. “I walked until midnight in the storm. Interesting, eh? And then I went home and took a sauna for an hour and a half. It was all clear. I was to leave. I went to sleep, just in case I changed my mind overnight, and I didn’t. I woke up, great. To use the old cliche, this is the first day of the rest of my life – and here we are.” CBC reporter Bill Casey, who was at that scrum, noted Trudeau “first attracted national attention as a sort of philosopher-politician” and it seems “he wants to leave the same way.” Moreover, the PM “looked for signs of destiny in the sky” in the storm that night, but “there were none – just snowflakes. So, he listened to his heart. And his heart, it appears, told him it was time to go.” In reality, it was a combination of several factors. Trudeau had been Prime Minister from 1968-1984. Joe Clark’s short-lived Progressive Conservative minority government between 1979-1980 served as the only interruption. The Canadian public, who had witnessed his leadership for years, was getting tired of him and his Liberal government’s policies. Brian Mulroney, who beat Clark in the 1983 PC leadership election, certainly sensed this. “My party was soaring in the polls – Gallup had us at 56 percent, with the Liberals trailing at 27 percent in a poll published on December 1,” he wrote in Memoirs: 1939-1993. “I knew he wouldn’t want to risk another election defeat.” There were many things to dislike about Trudeau, from left-leaning statist ideas to poor economic thinking. His vision of the country had its admirers, but wasn’t shared by all Canadians. Which is naturally the case for all political leaders. His intelligence and political savvy weren’t in dispute, however. The long walk in the snow Trudeau took that stormy evening, whether real or imaginary, confirmed what he had likely suspected in private for a while. There comes a moment when every leader realizes the final steps of a political journey have been taken. When your ideas are tired, policies are stale and personal popularity has sunk to depths that can’t be easily rejuvenated. The layers of snow on Trudeau’s boots provided those indications – and more. Which brings us back to his son. Justin Trudeau has been in a state of political decline for several years. The reasons are plentiful, including three older instances of wearing blackface, two ethics violations, political scandals and controversies involving several Liberal MPs and cabinet ministers, spending taxpayer dollars like a drunken sailor, and situating Canada at the foreign policy kiddie table. That’s why he’s been trailing Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives by double digits since late September. Will Trudeau depart before the next election? It seems unlikely. Terry DiMonte, a former radio host and Trudeau’s friend, recently said to him during their annual hour-long holiday chat, “You have a lot of fight in you. You’re not going anywhere, are you?” The PM responded, “You know, everyone talking about, ‘Oh, maybe it’s the walk in the snow this coming week’…it’s like, Jesus Christ! Come on.” Is this an act of defiance and stubbornness? It’s possible. Does he want to prove he can muster up another political recovery and stay in office? It could be a motivating factor. Or, does he want to prove he’s not in the shadow of his late father? Ay, there’s the rub. History has shown that Justin Trudeau doesn’t have Pierre Trudeau’s political sense and communications skills. He didn’t have them to begin with, and hasn’t spent any discernible amount of time in developing them. He simply plodded along, spent most of his time focusing on fluffy rhetoric and pet projects like a federal carbon tax, and systemically destroyed Canada’s economy and political culture. Not that he believes this has happened, mind you. “With the challenges that people are facing right now, with the way the world is going now and everything that we are doing that’s making positive differences in a very difficult time that isn’t done yet, I wouldn’t be the person I am and be willing to walk away from this right now,” he told CBC’s Rosie Barton on Christmas Day during their year-end interview. Yes, you read this correctly. Our mediocre and ineffective Prime Minister actually feels he’s the nation’s saviour. A political role that virtually no-one believes he’s ever assumed, and even fewer would want him to assume. He’s taken delusional thinking to a whole new level. The son, unlike the father, doesn’t realize when it’s time to pack it in. A long walk in the snow isn’t in the cards. Canada will therefore trudge behind him even when the powdery material finally reaches terra firma.This year’s U.S. presidential election is officially underway. Democrats can vote in the Iowa caucuses from Jan. 12 to Mar. 5, or Super Tuesday. Meanwhile, Republicans voted on Jan. 15 in their Iowa caucuses.

The other primaries and caucuses for both major parties will be held over the next few months. We should know the presidential candidates and their running mates before long.

What’s my prediction?

The 2024 election will likely be a rematch of 2020, with Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican president Donald Trump facing off. The result in 2024, however, will likely be the reverse of what happened four years ago.

That’s right. My sense is Trump will become president once more.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump face off in a rematch in 2024
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Why do I believe this will happen? Let me explain.

The presidential nominations should both end up being straightforward affairs.

Biden has no real competition in the Democratic primaries. The only person who could have potentially disrupted his re-election bid, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., suspended his campaign on Oct. 9, 2023, to run as an Independent. He’s currently hovering around 68 to 70 percent popularity among party delegates. The two remaining major candidates, House Representative Dean Phillips and author/speaker Marianne Williamson, are both in single digits according to recent polls by Real Clear Polling, FiveThirtyEight and others.

It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Biden will win his party’s nomination.

Trump has more competition in the Republican primaries, but he’s also well ahead of the field. Real Clear Polling, FiveThirtyEight, Decision Desk HQ/The Hill and others suggest he’s polling between 60 and 65 percent, and has close to a 50-point lead. His two main rivals, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, are both slightly above 11 percent. The other two major candidates, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, are in single digits. Ramaswamy left the field Monday night.

Unsurprisingly, Trump won the Iowa caucus handily, with 51 percent after 99 percent of the expected vote was tallied. DeSantis ended up at 21 percent and Haley at 19 percent.

It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Trump will win his party’s nomination, too. He does face one potential roadblock that Biden doesn’t, however.

Some U.S. states have attempted to keep him off the ballot due to his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. While Trump survived a Senate vote on one article of impeachment related to “incitement of insurrection” (his second impeachment proceeding as president), they’ve tried to use the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause” as a means of barring him.

The Colorado Supreme Court and Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows both did this, while the Minnesota Supreme Court and Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that state courts cannot determine Trump’s eligibility. Trump and the GOP appealed in Colorado and Maine, staying both decisions. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Colorado appeal, Trump v. Anderson, on Feb. 8. This ruling will apply to all 50 states and the District of Columbia with respect to Trump’s eligibility for 2024.

Do I believe Trump will win his appeal? Yes.

Many Americans have different interpretations and opinions about his role (or lack thereof) in this terrible incident. He didn’t march with the protestors to the Capitol building that fateful day, but his political rivals and opponents believe he supported them. Since he was cleared of this charge in a Senate impeachment vote, it’s a moot point. Plus, it should be up to the electorate, not partisan individuals and state courts, to decide whether he should sit in the White House for a second term.

This is where Trump has a real advantage.

Biden’s presidency has been a rollercoaster ride. His leadership and health have been regular topics of conversation and concern. Partisan politics in Washington is as rigid and ideological as it has ever been. Foreign policy, which has long been his forte, has been on the shakier side due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Israel-Hamas war and more. Massive amounts of public spending, COVID-19 and otherwise, under his administration has shaken the U.S. economy to its very core.

According to Ankit Mishra in Forbes on Dec. 18, 2023, the country’s economic growth is slated to be 2.4 percent in 2023 and 1.5 percent in 2024 – well below the average for G20 nations – and the “Federal Reserve Bank of New York projects a 52 percent chance that the United States will fall into a recession over the next 12 months.”

That’s why Trump is ahead of Biden in the popular vote in virtually all polling models. This includes aggregation, head-to-head, a three-way race with RFK Jr. (who is around 14-15 percent) and a four-way race with RFK Jr. and academic/activist Cornel West (who is around 2-2.8 percent).

Of interest, Trump has never won the popular vote in a presidential election. He lost to Clinton by 48.2 to 46.1 percent in 2016 and 51.3 to 46.8 percent to Biden in 2020. On the flip side, he won the electoral college in the former election (304 to 227) and lost in the latter nearly in reverse (306 to 232). If he breaks through in his third – and likely final – election campaign for the White House, that would be something.

And unless things dramatically change, that’s precisely what’s going to happen.

Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.

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