Six factors impacting the 2024 election

This post examines six factors impacting the 2024 elections — (1) a rightward tilt in the electoral map, (2) an increase in the number of swing states, (3) candidate quality, (4) abortion, (5) racial issues, and (6) economic discontent. Notably absent from the list are many of the economic, financial, and environmental issues and proposals that I care about.

Below is a list of factors impacting the 2024 election.

Factor One:  A rightward tilt in the electoral map 

Three states that Obama won twice, Iowa Ohio, and Florida are now solid red.  

The Democrats have basically pulled out of Iowa.  Both Biden and Harris are unpopular in the state.    The Democrats went from owning 3 of 4 of the Congressional seats in 2018 to having 0 of 4 in 2022, and are now having trouble finding candidates.  The governorship and both Senate seats are now owned by Republicans.  Their performance in the 2022 governor’s race was especially bad.

Ohio is usually close but has gone from extremely close in 2000 and 2002 to more comfortably Republican in recent years. A Trump-backed Senate candidate won an open seat in 2022. A popular Democratic Senator is up for re-election in 2024 in a tough battleground that leans Republican 

Florida the deciding state in 2000 is now very Red as evidence by the victory of DeSantis, Rubio and House Republicans in 2022.  Democrats need to concentrate on the House in Florida to become relevant. 

Factor Two:  A large number of potential swing states 

There were an incredible number of close statewide races in 2020.  While Democrats look strong in Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Republicans have a lot of paths to victory.

Margins in Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona were all thin and are the states most likely to flip from blue to red.

Wisconsin is the “blue-wall” sate most likely to fall. the Republican senator and the Democratic governor both won reelection in 2022 and the 2020 Biden/Trump margin was 0.6 percent.

Georgia almost certainly flips if Trump is not the nominee, and its popular Republican governor is on the ticket.

Virginia with its popular Republican governor may also be in play.

Democrats seem to be doing a good job ticking off the electorate in New Hampshire by moving its prestigious first-in-the nation primary back.

No red state is likely to flip blue in 2024.  North Carolina is a long shot.

Factor Three:  Candidate quality 

Both parties have a candidate quality problem at the presidential level and down ballot.

A Trump-Biden rematch would turn off most voters as evidenced by a poll that found 65 percent of voters do not want Biden to run again and 68 percent of voters do not want Trump to run again.

Trump the front number for the nomination is a criminal and may be unelectable in the general election.  Most experts believe Trump will be the nominee.  I believe he will not be the nominee and the nation will move onto other issues quickly.

Biden is gaffe prone.  Fox highlights each gaffe but it is also being picked up by more reputable outlets like USA Today.  

Kamala Harris is unpopular with poll numbers lower than Dan Quayle.  Harris is important because Biden is old and unlikely to finish a second term.   Nikki Haley has done a good job driving up this point.

Republicans tend to have highly contested primaries that often result in the nomination of bad candidates.  This was the case in 2022 Senate races in Arizona and Pennsylvania and in 2022 gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona.

Democrats tend to let the establishment pick the candidate. Often the candidate is black because of the huge debt that the party owes black voters.  In 2022, three senate candidates in 

Florida, Wisconsin, and North Carolina won the Democratic nomination with no real competition, which means a lack of practice answering tough questions.

Factor Four:  Abortion is a head wind for Republicans

Abortion is potentially a huge head wind for Republicans because their abortion positions are truly extreme. Democrats need to address several consequences of the Dobbs decision to take full advantage of this issue including

Also, Democrats need to point out that late-term abortions as discussed here are rare and involve very difficult decisions.

The abortion issue did not make the difference in 2002 elections in Florida or Texas and may not turn an overwhelmingly red state blue.  However, a pro-choice Democratic governor was re-elected in Kansas,  a very red state and might prove decisive in the 2024 Kentucky gubernatorial contest.

Abortion could be the deciding issue in the presidential election in several swing states if the Democrats more effectively highlight consequence of Dobbs.

Factor Five:  Racial Issues

Racial politics cuts both ways. 

Republicans seem to either condone racism or claim it is not a major problem.  

Democratic remedies for racism often undermine attempt to reward hard work and make decisions based on merit.

Trump was easily to depict as a racist.  Remember the some very fine people on both sides remark. 

Pence appears to believe that systematic racism does not exist.  

DeSantis is against virtually all efforts to increase diversity

Ramaswamy has called white supremacy as realistic as unicorns,  and blamed a recent racist mass-murder on racialized culture instead of white supremacy.

The inability of these candidates to address white extremism and violence and the tendency to deny the existence of systematic racism could sway many moderate voters.

On the other hand, polices favored by Democrats often provide large benefits to less qualified minorities and undermine the notion that decisions should be based on merit. 

Prior to the recent Supreme court decision overturning affirmative action in higher education, Harvard systematically gave Asian applicants a lower personality score to increase representation of other minorities.  Polling data finds that Americans approve of the Scotus decision.   

The end of testing for admission to an elite high school in Virginia and the growth of test-blind admissions for college penalize people who prioritize academics and undermines the process of making decisions on merit. 

Democrats increase turnout among black voters and lose support among other groups, especially Asians, for their support of these preferences.

The question for this campaign is how far each party will go to pander to its extreme.

 Factor Six:  Economic Discontent. 

Biden is presiding over a robust economy stronger than the rest of the world with a low unemployment rate and a still high but declining inflation rate. However, Biden has a low approval rating on the economy.    Here are some of the reasons for the disconnect.

  • High interest rates have increased the cost of consumer loans and mortgages and have reduced affordability for new homes.
  • The inflation rate for food, an essential product, was especially high.
  • 49 percent of adults approaching retirement age have no retirement savings.  Recently enacted policy changes are not likely to have a major impact on retirement savings.
  • Many people do not realize much in additional disposable income from additional work because state-exchange health insurance premiums and Income Driven Replacement Student loan programs are linked to income.  (Work on this topic will be available shortly.)
  • The re-start of student loan payment obligations will have an adverse financial impact for many households as shown here.  

Concluding Thoughts:  There is no doubt that Biden is presiding over a strong economy and has enacted major laws impacting health care, infrastructure, and the environment.  It is notable that many of Biden Administration’s legislative achievements have either phased out or are scheduled to sunset.  Also, Biden has done a better job criticizing Republican health care proposals than putting forward reforms that would resolve the impending reductions to Social Security and Medicare while increasing retirement savings of younger workers.  Unfortunately, the merits of innovative policy proposals will not be central to the 2024 presidential election.

The politics of abortion

It is likely the abortion issue will have a large impact on control of the House in 2024 and little or no impact of control of the Senate or the presidential race. Donors who want to impact 2024 political outcomes should focus on House races.

The House of Representatives is now ground zero of the abortion debate in the United States.  

Nearly a dozen bills in the House include anti-abortion provisions.  These include bills that:

restrict access to mifepristone, ban paid leave for travel for abortion related services by members of the military and their families, and limit funds to the District of Columbia because of its abortion laws.

Many attempts to restrict abortion involve riders to must-pass appropriation bills. The Senate and President Biden tend to give in to extreme House positions to enact must-pass laws.  A case in point is the decision to schedule the next debt limit vote for early January 2026, when it can be used as pressure in the presidential certification decision.

Pro-choice Democrats running for seats in the House can legitimately make the claim that Democrat control of the House is needed to prevent the implementation of highly regressive policies and political dysfunction.  

There are currently 18 House seats controlled by Republicans in districts won by President Biden and only 5 House seats controlled by Democrats in districts run by former president Trump. There are more than enough House districts that could swing the House back to Democratic control largely because of the abortion issue.   

Prior to Dobbs, abortion was a fringe political issue. Both sides used the specter of overturning Roe to motivate their base during presidential elections. Outcomes of presidential elections and senate contests were determined by the makeup of the states with red states going republican, blue states going to the Democrat and a relatively few purple states swinging depending on the election.  

The Dobbs decision did not change the dynamics governing outcomes of Presidential and Senate election.

The primary determinant of the outcome of the presidential contest in 2024 is candidate quality.  The Republicans have a much better chance of winning the election if they nominate someone not named Trump.  The Republicans could win if Biden has a major health event nearing the election or just makes a ton of mistakes or otherwise appears feeble on the campaign trail. 

The presidential race is also impacted by unanticipated events on the current president’s watch, including renewed inflation, the onset of a recession, some terror event (perhaps one emanating from Afghanistan) or failure in Ukraine due to insufficient American support.  These scenarios could overshadow the abortion issue.  

Abortion is not likely to be a major factor in Senate outcomes, even though the Senate is responsible for confirming judges.

There is a substantial likelihood the Senate will turn from blue to red in 2024.

Only four 2024 contests — Arizona, West Virginia, Ohio, and Montana — are likely to be closely contested. All have vulnerable incumbent Democrats or Independents. 

Arizona is impossible to predict because there may be three viable candidates and even two-way races in Arizona are very close.

The outcome in West Virginia depends on whether the incumbent Democrat runs for reelection.  If Manchin does not run, the republicans will pick up a seat in this state.

Ohio and Montana are red states with popular Senate Democrats.   Montana is more likely to flip than Ohio.

The Democratic establishment will attempt to persuade potential donors to contribute to Senate races in Florida and Texas.  The likelihood of a Democrat prevailing in either state is extremely small.

Democrats have not won a statewide contest in Texas since the 1990s.

Florida now has a Republican governor and two Republican Senators.

Republicans are now winning statewide races in Florida by large margins.

Both Texas and Florida have enacted draconian anti-abortion laws.  Abortion will be a key issue in elections in both states but will more likely be the determining factor in House contests than in statewide contests. 

The die is largely cast for the Senate because of the unfavorable 2024 map for Democrats.  

A contribution to a House race in Texas or Florida will have a larger positive impact on all races in the state than a contribution to the Senate candidate.

The outcome for the presidential race depends largely on the choice of the nominee, the mental and physical health of the nominees, and unanticipated events. None of these factors are under your control or would be impacted by an incremental contribution.

Progressive and centrist Democrats might best impact 2024 outcomes by searching for and donating to high-quality pro-choice House candidates.

2024 Insights: Trump will not be the Republican nominee

Early national polls of Republican voters mean zilch. Some states have open primaries and a smaller field that narrows quickly can quickly settle on someone other than Trump.

The national media believes that Trump is the clear favorite for the Republican nomination.  My view is that the likelihood of Trump winning this nomination is around 25 percent.  

Some observations supporting the emergence of an alternative to Trump:

People always assume the previous race will look like the last one.  In the 2016 Republican contest there were 17 major candidates and the field narrowed slowly.  This time around there may be a total of 6 candidates with field narrowing to 3 after New Hampshire. 

Many states have open primaries, which allow voters to enter the primary of their choice. Most independents have an unfavorable view of Trump.  Many independents will participate in an open Republican contest and vote against Trump If Biden is not challenged in the Democratic contest.  Three of the early crucial contests, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina are open contests.

Iowa, the first caucus, is likely to be a muddle.  The Iowa Republican caucus often goes to a candidate with regional ties or fervent anti-abortion views.  The Democrats have moved Iowa to a later date, a change that will likely cause more independent voters to caucus with Republicans.

Two key early states, New Hampshire and South Carolina have open primaries.  It is conceivable that Trump loses both primaries and gets knocked down early.  Chris Sununu, the governor of New Hampshire, would win the New Hampshire contest if he enters.  Whether Trump could rebound in South Carolina depends on how quickly the field winnows.

Concluding Thought:  Biden fares poorly in a general election race against Sununu.  Whitmer would be a much stronger candidate. Future election posts will examine the contest or lack of contest in the Democratic party and factors impacting the general election.


Ukraine and the race for the next speaker of the House

The more conservative members of the Republican House and the more liberal members of the Democratic House are adopting Putin’s position on the war in Ukraine. Can centrists of both parties unite to support Ukraine?

Initially opposition to assistance for Ukraine came from the right. 57 House Republicans opposed assistance in a May vote.  More recently, Kevin McCarthy the potential future speaker stated the House could target Ukraine funding. Former President Trump is supportive of Putin’s position on the war.

A recent letter from 29 members of the progressive caucus inside the Democratic party called on the Administration to support “vigorous diplomatic efforts” to support a negotiated cease fire and a cease fire.   Hard to understand how this approach could lead to success when Russia is bombing civilians and infrastructure, committing war crimes and controls around 20 percent of Ukraine.   

Withdrawing support from Ukraine or putting pressure on Ukraine to accept an immediate cease fire when Russia commits war crimes, has forced deportations of Ukrainian citizens, and still controls substantial Ukrainian territory, is incomprehensible to me.

The extremist Republican and extremist Democrats who basically support Putin’s position in Ukraine are a minority of the House and a minority of America.

Most pundits believe that the Republicans will have most of the next House.  They would force a reversal in U.S. policy toward Ukraine and do other detrimental things including shutting down the government and breaching the debt limit.

Speaker Pelosi has been a strong supporter of Ukrainian aid, but she is under intense pressure from her left flank on a wide variety of issue.

A centrist Democrat or Republican could run for the job of speaker.  The next speaker could be a centrist who supports Ukraine if centrist Democrats and Republicans unite.  

The Speaker of the House does not have to be a member of Congress.  The House could choose to elect a non-partisan respected figure outside of Congress to be the next speaker.

This action would result in America doing the right thing in Ukraine, could prevent future shutdown and debt-limit emergencies.  A speaker who is respected by members of both parties could facilitate the dialogue on a wide range of issues and create a process that leads to more sensible centrist policies.

Authors Note:  David Bernstein, a retired economist has written several papers advocating for innovative centrist policy solutions.

The kindle book Defying Magnets:  Centrist Policies in a Polarized World has essays on policies student debt, retirement savings and health care.

The paper A 2024 Health Care Proposal provides solutions to health care problems that are not currently under consideration.

The proposals in Alternatives to the Biden Student Debt Plan are less expensive to taxpayers than the Biden student loan proposals.  The reforms presented here provide better incentives and reductions for future students while the Biden debt-relief proposal offers a one-time improvement for current debtors.

Ukraine is the most important issue of our time.  The conflict today in Ukraine reminds me of the conflict in the 1930s in Spain against Franco and fascism.  Kevin McCarthy must not become speaker.

A Red Tide and a Blue Wall 

There is a lot of discussion, hope and prayer for a blue wave leading to the Democrats retaking the house.  The House is very hard to predict.    Now I am focused on two other aspects of the election – a Red tide controlling outcome of the Senate and the rebuilding of the blue wall.

The Red Tide:

A red tide occurs when algal blooms become so numerous the coast gets discolored and water becomes unpleasant to swim in.   The Republicans by suppressing the vote in numerous states and by colluding with the Russians have created the political equivalent of the red tide.

Political pundits are claiming many Senate sears are in play.   Mitch McConnell lists 9 senate seats that are dead even.

I list 5 seats (AZ, FL, IN, NV, and MO) that are dead even.  Polls are going back and forth in these states.  I am concerned that FL could flip if the voting irregularities that helped Governor Scott in 2014 reoccur.

Two seats (MT and ND) are not even but are in play.  The polls are close but consistently favor the Democrat in MT.   Poll averages are deceptive in ND as proven when Heitkamp fueled by a large Native American vote pulled out a surprise victory in 2012.  Also, the RCP average in ND was affected by two large outliers.

This time many Native Americans will not be able to vote.

Republicans in red states are getting very good at voter suppression.    Have you read about the exact match program in Georgia?

Exact Match in Georgia

The pundits believe that TN and TX are in play.    My view is that Republicans are highly likely to hold both states.

  • Breedsen cratered when he stated that he would support Kavenaugh. Volunteers quit.  Last three polls were abysmal.
  • TX is highly polled. Polls are relatively close but Cruz leads in just about every poll.

There have been some accusations about voter suppression in Texas but some articles say this problem is being fixed.  We’ll have to see.


Voting in Texas:


Senate control depends on these races but objectively the Republicans have many more paths than the Democrats.

This is supposed to be the year of the woman. but sadly two senior female Democrats Macaskill in MO and Heitkamp in ND are in dogfights.   The number of female democrats could fall depending on these outcomes and results in AZ and NV.

Restoring the Blue Wall: 

There is some good news for the Democrats.   The blue wall in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania is being repaired.  The Democratic incumbent running for reelection is up by double digits in all three states.

All three states which were blue for decades, went for Trump over Clinton in 2016.

Many of the people in these states appear to regret their vote for Trump.

Even more surprising is that Democratic Gubernatorial candidates are leading in the polls in Ohio and Iowa against two strong GOP candidates.  Obama won both states twice but Trump won both states by large margins.

It does appear as though some voters want to send Trump and the GOP a message

The ability of the GOP to stop Democrats from voting may be too much for the Senate contest.


Some RCP Data:


Senate Race RCP Averages
State RCP Average Red – Blue
AZ 0.3
FL -2.4
IN -2.5
MO 0.4
NV 0
MT -3
ND 8.7
WV 9.4
TN 5.5
TX 7
OH -16
WI -10.6
PA -16






The Issue is Garland Not Kavenaugh

The Issue is Garland Not Kavenaugh

I tend to believe the accusations of sexual assault made by women including both the accusations made against Kavenaugh and Ellison.   The Democrats are a bit hypocritical to attack Kavenaugh and give Ellison a pass.

I would vote against Kavenaugh  even without the assault allegations.  I would vote against Kavenaugh because he was not fully vetted and because of what the Republicans did to Merrick Garland.

In 1991 near the end of the Bush presidency Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall.  Even with the Anita Hill controversy   Thomas got a vote.  Merrick Garland was a fairly conservative pick for a Democrat.  He is also squeaky clean. He did not get a vote.

The failure to seat Garland may give Republicans control of the court for a very long time.

We cannot have one set of rules for approving Republican judges and anothe set of rules for approving Democratic judges.

The Democrats will take power back some day.   When they regain power, they must do whatever is necessary to restore the balance of the court.  Critics of this approach will rant that two wrongs don’t make a right.   The correct answer is based on the theory of second best.

Regular order where valid nominees get a hearing and are fully vetted is the first best solution.  The first best solution does not exist. Republicans created a situation where Democratic nominees don’t get heard and Republican nominees don’t have to be fully vetted.

Democrats once they return to power must restore balance to the court. One way for the Democrats to fix the situation once they return to power is to totally restructure the court.   A less drastic fix would be to indict or impeach Kavenaugh over the multiple allegations of perjury.

Republicans are very confident that in the short term they will prevail.  They may be right.  This topic will be explained in the next post.

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