In their comments on the current state of US politics, press outlets in Arab countries, especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Jordan largely incline to the view that Donald Trump and Joe Biden will face each other in the 2024 presidential elections, and that Trump has a better chance of winning. This conclusion is largely based on public opinion polls conducted in the US, including a recent survey conducted by Harvard CAPS-Harris, in which 44% of respondents stated that they would vote for Trump, while 40% said that they would vote for Biden.
The Arab commentators view economic concerns as a major factor: inflation has risen sharply during Biden’s presidency, prompting banks to raise interest rates to curb rising prices. The public is well aware of the impact that inflation is having on their living standards, and this economic concern has undoubtedly contributed to a fall in Biden’s ratings.
However, perhaps the main obstacles to Biden’s re-election stem from his son Hunter’s legal troubles, and from concerns about the President’s age. Hunter Biden has been charged with illegal possession of firearms, a federal offense, and is being investigated for tax evasion. These legal woes, and the problems associated with his foreign business activities, have cast a shadow over the Biden family.
Moreover, increasingly many are of the opinion that at 80 the President is too old to stand for re-election. Despite attempts to allay concerns by releasing his medical data, questions about his cognitive abilities and fitness for work persist. A significant percentage of the population have doubts about his physical stamina and mental acumen, and these vulnerabilities could be used against him in the election campaign.
Moreover, Biden is also facing the problem of a lack of enthusiasm within his party, with only a third of Democrats believing he should be the party’s nominee in 2024. Many are calling for a younger candidate to represent their party. However, the ratings of Vice President Kamala Harris are also low, leaving the Democratic Party with a dilemma, since removing her is almost impossible as this would most likely upset the party’s support base. It appears that the Democrats’ only option for the 2024 polls is to stick with the Biden Harris team.
As reported by many newspapers, on September 28, the Republican faction in the House of Representatives opened an impeachment investigation into Biden, focusing on the family business.
Cautiously, and always basing their conclusions on US sources, some journalists have noted that the failures in Ukraine (in various forms) could deal a very serious blow to the current US administration.
Trump, on the other hand, has virtually unwavering support among Republicans despite the numerous criminal charges he is facing. More than 80% of Republican supporters view him favorably. Trump positions himself as a right-wing populist leader who is unfairly attacked by the “deep state” or the liberal media for his anti-establishment views.
He is skilled at deflecting attention from scandals by shifting the focus onto other problems or be discrediting his accusers. He adopted this strategy in 2016, with success, and it also served him well in 2020. The recent appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Hunter Biden will likely help Trump divert attention from his own legal troubles.
Trump also seeks to present himself as tough and unyielding in the face of adversity, and thus project the image of a strong man. This image appeals to electors who see him as a fighter who will not back down despite the allegations against him. Trump also insists that the economy performed better during his presidency and that he did not lead the country into war.
Those who are opposed to US involvement in the war in Ukraine are also likely to support Trump.
Trump enjoys the support of various factions within the Republican Party, including diehard conservatives, rural voters and low-income voters. He is also still the favored candidate of Latino and White Republican voters.
Paradoxical as it may seem, his support among voters grows with each criminal charge leveled at him.
Also working in Trump’s favor are the corruption charges against Bob Menendez, an influential Democratic senator who, until the indictment, served as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Allegedly, he and his wife have received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes, in the form of gold, cash, a luxury car and other gifts. (The Democrats hurriedly found another candidate to replace him as Chairman of the Committee.)
Many newspapers have also cited a long article published in the France’s Le Figaro, which claims that a Trump victory would be a disaster for Europe, for he could withdraw US troops from that continent and refuse to fund the Kiev regime.
There is also the risk that serious disagreements between the Republicans and the Democrats could prevent the approval of the budget for the new fiscal year, thus causing a temporary shutdown of the US government. (On September 27, the House voted to cut Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s salary to $1 because it could not manage to approve a Pentagon funding bill. It is, however, unlikely that the first Black Secretary of Defense will be forced to take a salary cut, as the defense bill is sure to be rejected by the senate, where the Democrats have a majority.)
Nevertheless, this relatively minor incident reveals the intense nature of the rivalry between the two parties.
One can therefore conclude that in 2024, and especially during the run-up to the November elections, US politics will be dominated by dramatic developments that will inevitably command global attention.
Veniamin Popov, Director of the “Center for Partnership of Civilizations” in MGIMO (U) MFA of Russia, Candidate of Historical Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.