President Joe Biden officially kicked off his re-election campaign with a video posted on social media on Tuesday, a further step toward a potential rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump.
In the video, Biden sounded themes recalling their 2020 battle – referring to a deeply-felt need to protect democracy – and Trump responded with a video of his own blasting Biden.
However, many experts agree that even though the combatants are the same – if Trump can win his party’s 2024 nomination – voters shouldn’t expect a retread of their earlier contest.
“The difference this time around would be that the burden would be on Biden to defend his record the same way the burden was on Trump to defend his record in 2020,” said Mark P Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s James A. Baker Institute in Houston, Texas. “The advantage, of course, that Biden has is that while he can’t campaign against Trump now [before he is the nominee], he can campaign against Trump’s previous presidency.”
Every generation has a moment where they have had to stand up for democracy. To stand up for their fundamental freedoms. I believe this is ours.
That’s why I’m running for reelection as President of the United States. Join us. Let’s finish the job. https://t.co/V9Mzpw8Sqy pic.twitter.com/Y4NXR6B8ly
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 25, 2023
Analysts say that while Biden can point to legislative accomplishments such as the USD 1 trillion infrastructure measure to fix roads and bridges and his administration’s success in funding the nation’s COVID response, he’s vulnerable on issues such as high inflation and rising crime.
“If they focus too much on Trump, which is pretty an easy way of doing things, I think it makes them more vulnerable,” said Brown University political science professor Wendy Schiller. “You have to explain what Biden has already done for the American voter and what keeping him in office will continue to provide the American voter.”
President Donald J. Trump Releases Web Video Addressing Joe Biden’s Announcement pic.twitter.com/MVPLIhdx24
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) April 25, 2023
Trump, too, has vulnerabilities heading into 2024, including an indictment in New York related to hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the run up to the 2020 election and the potential for more indictments in the coming months.
Biden’s supporters will no doubt remind voters of Trump’s legal woes, but Jones thinks the impact on the trail may be less than Democrats hope. “While Trump’s legal issues are likely to be a cloud that hangs over the campaign between now and 2024,” Jones said. “They’re unlikely to change the dynamics of the race because in the Republican primary side, most Republicans don’t give much credence to the charges or they don’t care about them. And then in the general election, there aren’t many people out there who haven’t already made their mind up about Donald Trump, either for him or against him.”
On foreign policy, Biden can point to his actions to defend Ukraine against the invasion by Russia, but experts say Trump could take advantage of waning public support for Ukraine if the war drags on.
Democratic strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher, who worked on both of former President Obama’s campaigns, said Trump and the Republicans risk alienating young voters by focusing on “culture war” issues such as abortion and restrictions on transgender rights.
“Those Millennials and Gen Zs are potentially a larger swath of voters as Baby Boomers,” Belcher said. “And a lot of these cultural wars that the Republican Party had, especially under Trump, have invested so much into it — it is absolutely a turnoff to them. They don’t understand it.”
Experts also point to a national feeling of unease caused by the portrayal of the January 6, incident in the U.S. Capitol, which some say casts the coming 2024 race in a completely different light than in 2020.
“I just don’t see this again as going back to being any sort of normal election,” said Christy Setzer, a Democratic strategist in Washington, D.C. “There is this fear that democracy is truly on the line.”