As we head into 2024, the conventional wisdom is that Democrats are on the back foot for next year’s elections. But there are three reasons I am optimistic that 2024 is going to be a good year for Democrats:
First, President Joe Biden has kept his central promise in the 2020 election: that he would lead the nation to the other side of Covid, successfully. The pandemic has receded. Our economic recovery has been better than any other G7 nation. GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.9% last quarter, and more than 3% for the Biden presidency. We have the best job market since the 1960s and the lowest uninsured rate in U.S. history. The Dow Jones broke 37,000 this month for the first time. Wage growth, new business formation and prime-age labor participation rates are all at historically elevated levels. Prices fell — yes, fell — last month. Rents are softening, and gas prices and crime rates are falling. Domestic oil and renewable production are at record levels. The annual deficit, which exploded under Trump, is trillions less today.
Consumer sentiment has risen sharply in recent weeks, and measures of life, job and income satisfaction are remarkably high. There is no doubt that recent years have been hard — Covid, an insurrection at the Capitol, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, repeated OPEC price hikes, global and domestic inflation — but it is increasingly clear that America is getting to the other side of this challenging period, and are in a far better place than when President Biden took office.
Second, the strength of the president’s record is only matched by the strength of his party. I don’t think it is widely understood how strong the Democratic Party is right now. The party has won more votes in seven of the past eight presidential elections, something no party has done in modern American history. Over the last four presidential elections, Democrats have averaged 51% of the popular vote, their best showing over four national elections since the 1930s.
In both 2022 and 2023, Democrats prevented the historical down ballot struggle of the party in power and had two remarkably successful elections. In the 2022 midterms, Democrats’ statewide margins were greater than the 2020 presidential margins in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania — all recent battleground states. That showing led the party to pick up a Senate seat, four state legislative chambers and two governorships, and helped keep the House of Representatives close, making it far more likely Republicans lose it in 2024.
This year, Democrats flipped a Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin; defeated a six-week abortion ban in Ohio; kept the Virginia state house, debunking the idea that Republicans could hide behind a 15-week abortion ban; and took state legislative seats, municipalities and school board seats across the country. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, grew his margin of victory from 2019, and Republicans lost mayoral elections in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Jacksonville, Florida, two of the largest GOP-controlled cities in the country. And in over three dozen state legislative special elections around the country, Democrats outperformed 2020 – an election we won by 4.5 percentage points — by an average of 5 percentage points.
While in 2022, Republicans could point to gains in New York and California to offset their losses in the battleground states, there were no places in 2023 where they outperformed expectations. A blue wave washed across the U.S. in 2023, and this ongoing strong performance of the Democratic Party in election after election, in all parts of the country, should fill Biden’s supporters with confidence.
Finally, while Democrats keep winning, conventional wisdom continues to overly discount Trump’s historic baggage and MAGA’s repeated electoral failures. Despite these repeated failures, Republicans are on the cusp of nominating Trump again, who this time is an even more degraded and dangerous version of MAGA than he was in 2020.
Two things have happened to Trump since 2020 that are going to make it very hard for him to win in 2024 — the stripping away of women’s reproductive rights, and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election and end American democracy for all time. Additionally, this year courts have already determined that he sexually abused journalist E. Jean Carroll in a department store; oversaw a yearslong financial fraud; and led a party-wide effort, involving hundreds of Republican leaders and thousands of willing allies, to overturn the last election, culminating in a violent attack on Congress.
Democrats will be able to argue that no one is more responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade than Trump; that his mishandling of classified documents is to blame for the most serious security breach in American history; that in concert with Russian President Vladimir Putin he will end the global liberal order that has brought America and the world unprecedented prosperity and peace; that he supports more dead kids in schools, a faster warming planet, lost health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and the end of American democracy for all time. Trump represents an unprecedented threat to the country, is even more extreme than 2020, and has, in political parlance, the highest “negatives” of any candidate perhaps in our history. It is going to be very hard for him to win next year.
For all these reasons, as we head into 2024, I am optimistic that Joe Biden and the Democrats will once again beat Donald Trump, and hopefully, this time, send MAGA into the dustbin of history where it belongs.