My 2024 voting strategy (November 2023 edition)
And should we be worried about the Biden-Trump polling?
As you might guess from reading my opinions, voting is something that I give a lot of thought to. As you might not guess, my opinion is that voting for a presidential candidate is one of the most ineffective ways to influence our government.
Think about it this way: When you cast a presidential ballot, you are casting one vote out of what may be several million in your state. The chances that your vote will be the deciding vote in an election is essentially nil.
But wait, it gets worse.
One state’s election results don’t decide the presidential election. Only a few states out of 50 are in play in any given election. If you aren’t in a battleground or swing state, your vote matters even less.
So why bother voting? The answer is that your vote matters a lot more in the down-ballot races. In a senatorial or other statewide election, your vote has essentially the same odds of deciding the election as of deciding the presidential outcome for your state, but in these other races, there is no Electoral College to further dilute the value of your ballot.
As you go further down, your vote matters more. In the US House, each representative represents approximately 761,179 people. but not all of those vote. As a result, your congressional vote matters a heckuva lot more in congressional races than in senatorial or presidential races. In my congressional district, about 300,000 people voted in 2022. When you go down the list to county commissioners and school board members, your vote may be one out of a hundred rather than one in a million.
I say all that to say this: Your vote for president next year won’t make a difference. You can, however, make a difference in other elections where there are fewer voters and, as a consequence, your vote matters more.
One of those other elections is the partisan primaries that will be held next year. There are far fewer voters in the primaries than there will be in the general election next November. The average percentage of voters who vote in primaries is about 27 percent as opposed to 60 percent in the general election (or so says States United).
Bearing this in mind, along with my goal of stopping Donald Trump and MAGA from regaining power, I’m going to be voting several times next year. My first vote will be in the Georgia primary.
I’ve given a lot of thought to a strategy for my primary vote. Donald Trump is the heavy favorite among a large field of Republican challengers. In reality, most of these challengers don’t matter because they have no chance (sorry, Tim Scott fans). If we want to keep Donald Trump off the general election ballot, we have to coalesce behind one candidate. The problem is that everyone has a different idea of who that candidate should be.
I spend a lot of time saying that the worst-case scenarios advanced by both political parties are cases of nut-picking and don’t represent reality. In Trump’s case, however, it isn’t the Democrats who are telling us that Trump will abuse his power to attack his opponents. It’s Trump himself who is telling us that. When The Former Guy and his MAGA cronies tell us that they want to use government as a blunt object to beat their opponents into submission, we need to take them at their word and act accordingly.
And for the record, that is not what Democrats are doing. Trump was investigated by a special counsel (among others) appointed by the attorney general, but nonpartisan grand juries indicted Trump for his actions. There is abundant evidence that Trump broke the law, but the scheming from Team Trump is starting with the desire to prosecute and will then look for crimes against as-yet unnamed defendants in another year or so. This is called a witch hunt.
What I’ve decided is that when the Georgia primary rolls around, I need to vote for whichever candidate has the better chance of defeating Trump. The odds are that will be either Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis. I’m no DeSantis fan, but given Donald Trump’s recent promises to use the police power of government to turn a second term into four years of revenge and retribution, I’ll hold my nose and vote for Ron DeSantis if he’s the better-positioned challenger.
For me, the difference between Nikki Haley and DeSantis is that I might vote for Haley in November. My vote for DeSantis would be solely a vote to deny Trump the nomination. I don’t think that I could bring myself to vote for someone as hostile to the First Amendment as DeSantis is, especially someone who flirts with conspiracy theories and anti-vaxxerism to boot.
I’d keep an open mind on Haley though. She has been disappointing in many ways so far, but I’d make a November decision based on the rest of her campaign.
Now, assuming that Donald Trump goes on to win the nomination, as I expect him to do, I will of course vote for Joe Biden in November. I haven’t regretted my 2020 vote for Biden and, rather than being a far-left president, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how centrist the Biden Administration has been. In particular, I think Biden’s foreign policy since Afghanistan has been pretty good.
In fact, if I had to name two top issues for 2024 they would be Ukraine and Trump. I’m concerned about Putinophiles in Congress shutting off aid to Ukraine and I’m deeply fearful of what would happen if MAGA regained power. Biden is on the right side of both of these issues while a great many Republicans are not. (I’m also in favor of aid to Israel, but I’m less concerned that Congress will disrupt this aid. Israel is also in a position to be more self-reliant than Ukraine.)
My concerns matter because suddenly, about three years ago, my vote in Georgia became worth a bit more when Georgia became a battleground state, but my presidential ballot still isn’t worth a lot. If Trump is the nominee, I’m going to have to hedge my bets. Because my trust in Republicans to hold Trump accountable if he somehow wins hovers between zero and negative numbers, I’m going to have to vote Democrat in the down-ballot races. I’d lean in the same direction if DeSantis is the nominee.
The flip side is that I trust Nikki Haley more than the other two. If Haley is the nominee, I’d be amenable to voting for a non-MAGA Republican in those other races.
I’m guessing that a lot of people are engaging in similar calculations as Election Day approaches. Republican voters might want to take this into consideration when they consider whether to nominate an indicted presidential loser for yet another attempt at the White House. They may not only end up losing the presidency again but adding to Joe Biden’s coattails as Never Trump voters give Democratic congressional candidates their votes for insurance.
On the other hand, if they nominate Haley or DeSantis, they could avoid a major backlash against Trump with the added bonus of installing a president who has the potential to be re-elected in 2028. Whatever the outcome in 2024, Trump won’t be a viable candidate in 2028, although I suspect that he might have to be forcibly evicted from the White House (again) if he serves a second term (presidential not prison, that is).
If Republicans persist in nominating MAGA candidates, I suspect that history will repeat itself. Very often, incompetent MAGA Republicans have taken winnable races at all levels and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I won’t be surprised if the same cycle repeats in 2024 and beyond until GOP voters learn that America does not like MAGA.
BIDEN-TRUMP POLLING: There’s been a lot of angst about recent presidential polling, especially in the swing states. With a year to go, it’s way too early to panic but the Biden team should take the threat seriously. My position has always been that Trump has higher negatives and a very high share of the electorate that refuses to vote for him under any circumstances. That makes winning almost impossible, but there’s always that pesky asterisk.
Joe Biden may not be popular with progressives, but progressives will remember what happened when they stayed home rather than vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Especially if the race looks close, they won’t take the chance on second Trump presidency.
I expect more moderates and independents to break toward Biden as well when Trump gains the spotlight after he wins the nomination. The Former Guy benefits from gag orders and debate absences now, but Donald Trump is the best campaigner that Joe Biden could ask for. And he won’t stay gagged forever.
The bottom line is that blocking Trump is too important to leave to chance. If it looks close as Election Day approaches, I’ll be leaning toward supporting Democratic congressional candidates.
MY PROSTATE CANCER JOURNEY: In case you missed it, I put out a new installment of my prostate cancer blog. You can read it at the link below and I still appreciate your prayers.
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