When Americans wake up next Wednesday, many races will still be uncalled, but it seems likely that the control of Congress and the results in numerous statewide races will be clear at that point.
But the hard reality of November 9th is not that the political dynamic in the United States is bound to shift, it’s that the 2024 presidential election basically begins that day, especially since people are likely already making moves in the background.
The American public might not see the next presidential cycle until the winter when candidates begin announcing exploratory committees, but this time around could look different.
We not only have a 79-year-old president in which it’s unclear whether he’ll actually run for re-election, and a former president who appears determined to return to the White House. At the same time, there’s a feeling that the expectation for the race could be totally different than what plays out, especially if Biden nor Trump decide to throw their hat in the ring.
It’s pretty likely that we’ll know soon if Trump decides to launch a 2024 bid, given that it feels like he’s already campaigning for a second term with his continuing rallies around the country. However, if there does appear to be a bit of a lull, it may be the opportunity for a potential challenger or eager leader to jump into the race. Still, if they decide to get ahead of Trump and he later announces, it would quickly torpedo any momentum the candidate had before. Most Republican politicians will not dare to challenge Trump or preempt him, although it would not be surprising if somebody takes a crack at it.
Another factor to consider is how a “Never-Trump” challenger like Republican Rep. Liz Cheney can run as either a Republican or Independent, but she would probably be taking more from the Democrats than Republicans, except they’d have little chance at victory. As there are such dominant personalities within both parties at the moment, this would not be the race where a serious third-party contender would emerge.
Of course, then there’s a possibility that neither Biden nor Trump decide to run again. This would then trigger the 2016 Republican primary and 2020 Democratic primary-style election seasons, in which the top dogs from both parties would be taking shots within their own tents. Will it be unproductive? Probably. Will it be entertaining? Certainly.
What remains true is the fact that the election will largely focus on both the current and past administrations, whether there’s a rematch or not. Those who are most loyal to Trump will be seeking out the candidate most aligned with his vision for the country, whereas Democrats may be looking for someone further to the left of Biden or in total support of him. In this scenario, candidates will be aiming to run a legacy campaign on the theme of passing the torch to the next generation of leadership.
While the focus for the next week will be the midterms, it’s crucial for people to understand that an even more consequential race is right around the corner.