A good year before the US presidential election, there could be a repeat of the 2020 duel: Biden versus Trump. But there’s a new issue that could thwart the challenger – and it’s not the charges.
“It’s the economy, stupid!” was the slogan with which Bill Clinton became US President around 30 years ago. That means something like: “It’s all about the economy, stupid!” – and this sentence has become something of an eternal piece of wisdom that remained important for all subsequent election campaigns. The most recent example was Donald Trump, who promised to bring back jobs and restrict free trade. But in 2024 a new topic will play a decisive role and compete with the economy: the abortion issue. It could increase President Joe Biden’s chances of getting a second term despite everything.
Because things don’t look particularly good for the 80-year-old. Should the 2020 duel actually be repeated, i.e. Biden versus Trump, then it is by no means certain that the Democrat will prevail. Trump is still polarizing and drives his opponents to the polls in droves. But Biden still does not arouse enthusiasm.
His biggest problem remains his age. He would be 86 by the end of his second term, and he already gives many Americans the occasional impression of not being up to par, with occasional trips, falls and stuttering. Whether justified or not, his popularity ratings are weak, almost as much as Trump’s.
Democrats shocked after decision
The economy is also failing, at least for the time being, as an election campaign helper. Inflation and the pandemic have left their mark. There is a lot of light on the horizon – strong job growth, falling inflation and good prospects thanks to immense investments in infrastructure, renewable energies and the chip industry. But there is still a lot of future music. In the here and now, many ordinary people feel above all high fuel and food prices. And that is exactly the breeding ground for the anger and frustration that Trump needs.
There is a certain irony in the fact that the abortion issue of all things is giving the Democrats hope for the next presidential election. Because when the Supreme Court removed the right to abortion from the constitution a good year ago, it came as a shock to liberal America. For nearly 50 years, this right had existed, which went down in history after those involved in a 1973 lawsuit called “Roe vs. Wade.” Only after its end, however, has the topic become a hot topic again, which can help decide elections.
The former regulation went much further than, for example, the German Paragraph 218, which only exempts abortions from punishment in the first three months and strictly regulates them. In the US, Roe vs. Wade abortions were legal until the end of the second trimester. For decades, Republicans and other conservative organizations had campaigned for an end to Roe vs. Wade. For them, the verdict on June 24, 2022 was cause for celebration.
Since then, the states have been allowed to enact their own regulations again – from a total ban to extensive permission. Since then, referendums have been held in several states. According to the portal Axios now have at least 21 states severely restricted abortions. Exceptional cases sometimes only apply up to the child’s sixth week of life – when many mothers do not even know that they are pregnant. What was surprising, however, was that a majority of conservative states such as Kansas and Kentucky also voted against a complete ban. Most recently, voters in Ohio also opposed a ban – a state that Trump won by eight percentage points in the last election.
Also many Republicans for abortion rights
This is a problem for the Republicans, because as a party they represent a much more radical position than the majority of society. The hardliners, who are against any demolition, set the tone in the party. In doing so, however, they represent a minority opinion within the entire US society. According to polls, a majority of around 60 percent think abortion should always or in most cases be legal. Among the Republicans, it is still almost 40 percent as figures from the Pew statistics institute show. And the topic is highly emotional.
The midterm elections in autumn 2022 showed what that can mean. In view of Biden’s unpopularity and high inflation, a “red wave” was expected, i.e. a clear victory for the Republicans. Instead, it was a bitter disappointment. The Democrats defended their majority in the Senate and the Republicans gained only a few seats in the House of Representatives. Trump had interfered massively in the election campaign and thus motivated his opponents to go to the polls. But the second major driver for many Democrats was the abortion issue.
How CNN, citing Trump’s environment, reported, this is fully aware of the problem. Therefore he tries to avoid a clear positioning. If he is too conservative, he may lose more moderate Republicans, especially female Republicans. If it is too lax, it could alienate evangelical Christians, for example, an important support group. But in the actual election campaign he will not be able to hold out.