Prof. D. Schultz: If the US elections were held on the 17th of May, Trump would be elected president - MRU

20 May, 2024
Prof. D. Schultz: If the US elections were held on the 17th of May, Trump would be elected president

If the US elections were held on the 17th of May 2024, Donald Trump would be elected president of the United States. The US Senate would probably flip to Republican control and is still uncertain regarding whether the Democrats or the Republicans would control the House of Representatives.

In the critical five or six swing states that will decide the US presidential election, current US President Joe Biden is behind in five of those states. The question is why?

First, if one looks at American public opinion, the economy and inflation still seem to be major issues. For the average American going to the store to buy groceries or other items, inflation persists as a problem. This is despite the fact that recent reports indicate that inflation is easing across the United States. But economic issues always seem to dominate presidential elections and this continued anxiety over inflation is clearly hurting Joe Biden. This is true even though he has minimal control over most of the prices in our society.

The second big issue that's hurting Joe Biden is the war. No, not in Ukraine. That war does not seem to factor very high with the American public right now. It is the war in Israel and Gaza. Joe Biden is trapped. Israel is a major ally in the Middle East and the US has long term defense commitments with it. Jewish voters also all are a large constituency of the Democratic Party, and he needs them to vote for him in November.

On the other hand, Biden is being sharply criticized for his handling of the war in Israel. This is especially true among young college age students whom Biden also needs to show up for him to vote in November. They overwhelmingly disapprove of Biden's support for Israel. Come November, either they will not vote for him, not vote at all, or perhaps vote for a third party candidate such as Robert Kennedy Jr. Thus, for Biden, if he supports Israel he alienates one set of voters, oppose Israel he alienates  another key constituency.

The campus protests against Israel are also hurting Joe Biden. Across the country, there seems to be among many voters disapproval of the protests. These protests, and the reactions to them, are reminiscent of 1968 in the United States, where campus protests against the Vietnam war eventually hurt the Democratic Party, leading to the election of Richard Nixon. A similar pattern seems to be set up now in terms of what is occurring.

For Biden to win he is counting on three things to happen. First, that Donald Trump will be convicted in the trial that is occurring in New York right now. This trial is in its final stages with it potentially going to a jury and a verdict in the next two to three weeks. There is no guarantee regarding what the verdict will be. However, polls suggest that were Donald Trump convicted of a crime 50% of the undecided voters would choose to vote against him. This could be decisive.  

Second, Biden is counting on abortion and reproductive rights issues to help him in the election. This is much in the same way that it helped Democrats in 2022 in congressional elections, and Biden back in 2020. He needs to motivate female  voters and convince them this is a more important issue than the economy.

Finally Joe Biden and Donald Trump just announced two presidential debates. The first will occur in June. Biden is hoping that a good performance in that debate will turn around the dimensions of the campaign and perhaps prove that he's fit and healthy enough to be a president for a second term.

This is an election where, as I argue, no more than about 150,000 voters across five or six states are going to effectively decide the next president. There are so few voters who are undecided. It's just not clear what it will take to move those few voters to help Joe Biden at this point. He clearly is the underdog but certainly not out of it yet.