Gaming The 2024 Campaign

We have seen enough of the Biden-Trump race so far to predict what lies ahead over the next seven months of the campaign. Currently, the polls are about dead even. Trump, however, for now enjoys small leads in the majority of the fickle swing/purple states that will likely decide the election.

So here is what we should expect:


Biden has three major vulnerabilities and three major assets. His fate will depend on how these criteria play out.

First, on the negative side of the ledger, Biden suffers continual mental and physical decline, which is accelerating exponentially. His work week is now more off than on. Aides pray that he can get through a teleprompter without complete incoherence. His speech is so slurred, his syntax so bizarre that he seems to speak a language that is mostly indecipherable.

They rightly fear that any young attractive woman or even preteen might earn a trademark Biden weird call-out, a hair- or accustomed ear-blow, or even an attempted presidential too-long hug or neck nibble.

Steps pose an existential threat, given that the president is one trip away from oblivion. Biden is not even the diminished Biden of 2020, when, in his basement, he at least manipulated the COVID-19 lockdown to mask his infirmities and abbreviated schedules.

The odds are 50/50 whether Biden will even make it over the next five months to the August Democratic Convention. And, assuming that he does, can he rein in efforts to push him off the ticket?

Second, the Biden family is corrupt. Hunter still faces spring- and summer-long felony exposure in connection with his Biden-family brand of tax cheating. Joe knows that his own documents, first-hand witnesses, bank statements, Hunter’s emails, and testimonies from Hunter’s associates reveal that the otherwise talentless but high-living Biden extended family was surviving only by the sale of Senator, Vice President, and future President Joe Biden’s name—and his known willingness to pay fast and loose with legal and ethical constraints.

There is still some chance that, in the current impeachment investigations and trial, more incriminating evidence will emerge or turned witnesses will offer proof of Biden’s criminality. For now, Biden’s lawbreaking is completely dismissed by Attorney General Merrick Garland and by special counsel Robert Hur’s satirical-comedy-worthy argument that even overwhelming evidence pointing to Joe Biden’s criminal behavior cannot be prosecuted because of the president’s dementia.

Third, the hard-left Biden agenda is completely underwater. Not a single Biden administration issue or policy—the border, crime, inflation, energy, foreign policy, race relations, education—polls even 50 percent. Worse, Biden never addresses the inflation created by his massive spending program, the lawlessness in our streets since 2021, the spiking cost of gasoline, or the humiliation abroad, from Kabul to Kyiv to the Chinese balloon. His idea of how to combat inflation is akin to combating obesity by gaining 100 pounds, losing two, and—presto—announcing that obesity was abated.

He spiked racial polarization, proved indifferent to an epidemic of anti-Semitism, and fueled the national debt (an additional $1 trillion every 100 days).

Now Biden is warring on the Supreme Court—a dangerous precedent given that an assassin has already shown up at Justice Kavanaugh’s home, given that mobs have massed at various justices’ residences with impunity, given Sen. Schumer’s prior personal threats at the very doors of the court to Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, and given left-wing rhetoric about packing the court.

All candidate Biden can do is either deny an open border, inflation, crime, racial tensions, and the Kabul humiliation—or claim that the successful policies of Trump, out of power for nearly four years, were responsible for all that crashed on Biden’s watch.

Biden, however, enjoys some natural advantages, most notably incumbency.

(Note that this was not much of an advantage to Trump himself in 2020, given the wild cards of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disastrous nationwide lockdown, and the mysterious workings of the Trump-hating administrative state. We remember the 11th-hour Pfizer declaration that there would be no pre-election announcement, as planned, of the success of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed vaccination initiative. Then, there was indeed an announcement—immediately after the election. And then there was the mysterious CIA/FBI arming of the Biden campaign, on the eve of the last debate and just days before Election Day, with the fake anti-Trump rebuttal of “Russian laptop disinformation.”)

Biden will pull every lever of incumbency, working the office of the presidency in the most Machiavellian and cynical of ways:

a) hoping to lower gas prices by not filling up the strategic petroleum reserve, jawboning illiberal and “pariah” oil producers to pump what he claims he hates, ordering Ukraine not to hit Russian refineries, and appeasing enemies like Iran to keep its oil flowing,

b) unconstitutionally sidestepping rulings of the Supreme Court to ensure more pre-election illegal student-loan-cancellation giveaways,

c) prodding the supposedly independent Federal Reserve to lower interest rates before November,

d) pressuring Mexico to tamp down illegal entries for a few months to serve their shared interests in defeating Trump.

A second asset is his army of satellites.

These include left-wing justices, weaponized federal, state, and local prosecutors, and Trump-biased jury pools. The left expects these to do what the effort to remove Trump’s name from the ballot did not: destroy the Republican candidate, financially and health-wise, and bind him with the Lilliputian ropes of Fani Willis, Letitia James, Alvin Bragg, and Jack Smith, who are eager to convict him through weaponized judges, juries, and a venomous media. They also include compromised election officials in urban counties in key swing states.

Biden cannot win unless 70-80 percent of voters in the key swing states do not vote on Election Day. Instead, their ballots must be mailed in, harvested, and curated without accustomed audit and without verification of whether voters are registered US citizens or have voted only once and done so legally.

And—his third major asset—Biden will also have billions of dollars more than Trump to pound home these themes in endless ads, social media shenanigans, and news censorship and blackouts.

Biden feels that he nevertheless must make the election hinge on destroying a monstrous, demonic, and hideous Donald Trump through any means necessary. Biden’s is not a positive campaign but will be waged by despising Donald Trump and all who support him. Expect more of those “semi-fascists”/ “ultra-MAGA” Phantom-of-the-Opera Biden hate speeches.

In the next seven months, the Biden effort will play out with three narratives: Trump is a January 6th insurrectionist and dictator and will “destroy democracy,” though apparently without weaponizing the FBI or removing his opponents’ names from ballots or siccing right-wing prosecutors on his enemies.

Trump purportedly will kill women by banning all abortions while relegating non-whites to the pre-civil-rights era—despite leaving abortion up to the states, and likely gaining more Latino and Black voters than any prior Republican presidential candidate. Then we will hear that Trump is a felon who belongs in jail.

All this is the message of the Biden campaign, period.


Trump likewise has both assets and liabilities. His vulnerabilities are mirror images of Biden’s advantages: he lacks incumbency and the powers that come with it; he does not have an army of officials on his side; and he will have a financial disadvantage.

We have no idea how many gag orders remain. How many late-summer days will Trump spend stuck in court? How many hundreds of millions of his dollars will be expropriated by out-of-control anti-Trump left-wing judges? Can Trump—or any candidate—successfully run with a $1 billion overhead in legal fees and fines and with critical days on the campaign trail diverted to left-wing, media-frenzied, blue-city courtrooms?

In addition, Trump is sometimes his own worst enemy. Trump, one could say, is running mostly against Trump. He knows that if he sticks solely to the agenda, contrasting Biden’s failures with his own past stellar record and future contract with America, he can win. He realizes that he must take the high road and talk idealistically rather than going low and getting angry.

But who could be expected to do so after being the victim of two unfair impeachments, left-wing lies like Russian collusion and disinformation, efforts to railroad him into prison with outrageously politicized legal vendettas, and attempts to remove his name from the ballot?

Trump’s advantages are clear. First, his record: on foreign policy, inflation, and the economy. But most important for the election is his ability to connect with people. So far, the split-screen differences between candidate Trump and President Biden have proved overwhelmingly to Trump’s advantage: Biden in New York schmoozing at a black-tie night with celebrities and ex-presidents to haul in $26 million in campaign cash from the hyper-rich, while Trump is with middle-class NYPD rank-and-file at a rainy wake for a murdered cop—killed by a repeat felon released without bail.

Or Trump buying fast food and milkshakes amid a mostly black Atlanta Chick-fil-A crowd, while Biden dines with the venomous Robert De Niro and the zillionaire Jeff Bezos at a White House dinner, with the celebrities’ trophy girls vying to get the most stares at their multi-thousand-dollar designer clothes—as if they were on the red carpet at the Oscars rather than in the people’s house.

What can Trump do to make the best use of all this? He must magnanimously reach out to former rivals such as Haley, even as she continues to demonize him, and to DeSantis as well. He must unite the House Republicans to keep their razor-thin majority at all costs. He must campaign nonstop among poor whites, blacks, and Latinos, appealing to shared class concerns rather than the racial obsessions and psychodramas of the bicoastal elite.

He should skip the ad hominem invective, forget the past rivalries with his primary opponents, and assume a corrupt media does not deserve a minute of his time. If he does this, he can win.

But if he climbs down into the mud with his leftist opponents, trades insults, wrestles with his opponents, and obsesses about fake news and the crooked media, he will likely lose.

Aside from Trump’s temperament, we must always remember that the answers to two other fundamental questions will determine the outcome of the election:

Can the Republicans monitor the balloting and return it to the environment of 2016 rather than 2020?

Can Trump convince millions of minorities, independents, and former Biden voters that there are plenty of reasons to vote for someone they may not like—including the very future of the United States as a free republic as envisioned by the Founders, rather than an increasingly weak, anemic, cranky socialist has-been?

Finally, we must also remember that, ultimately, the outcome of the election could be determined by unpredictable events. What happens if the Gaza War expands to Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, as Israel is attacked from all directions? Or the military of the United States is attacked in the Middle East, as in the past?

What will be the status of Ukraine by November—static, safer, or absorbed by Russia—and who will be praised or blamed for what ensues?

Will China risk attacking or blockading Taiwan on the theory that it will never be gifted a more ossified president than Biden?

Will the left unleash another late-season October surprise like the 2016 Access Hollywood tape or the 2020 “Russian disinformation” laptop farce? And will these desperate gambits resonate or boomerang?

And, lastly, will the candidates in October and November resemble the candidates of today? These are the two oldest candidates ever to run for president. Will Trump still be vibrant at 78? Will Biden still be upright at 81?

Will Biden’s feebleness still earn him sympathy, or at least respectful silence? Or will it devolve to the point that the public, worn out by his lapses, concludes that Joe Biden would not be able to keep any job in America—except the Presidency of the United States?

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

Photo: TOPSHOT - (COMBO) This combination of pictures created on November 04, 2020 shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (L) in Wilmington, Delaware, and US President Donald Trump (R) in Washington, DC both pumping their fist during an election night speech early November 4, 2020. President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling it out for the White House, with polls closed across the United States -- and the American people waiting for results in key battlegrounds still up for grabs, one day after the US presidential election November 03. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS and MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS,MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. Election experts frequently say that, in the end, Americans tend to vote their pocketbooks. And at any other time when surveying the political landscape, I would say that is true. This time it’s different. The Trump hating media appear to have convinced half of America that financial disaster is preferable to another Trump presidency. There is no other explanation for the fact presidential election polls show the race as almost a dead heat.

    At a time when just about every economic indicator is fake, and in the face of real pain at the gas pump, the grocery store, the clifflike drop in new and existing home mortgages, the ever rising cost of rents, the fake indicators appear to hold sway. It is like the American householder WANTS to be fooled. And I don’t understand why.

    Economically, the Biden Administration looks a lot like the Carter Administration. We are already in the same inflationary cycle and at almost the same inflation rates-----though the BLS has cooked the books to make it look otherwise. If using the same metrics today as was used prior to 1983, inflation today is worse.

    The same spirit cooking is occurring with unemployment figures. Almost all jobs created in the last three years are part time. The rate of full time work stands at almost zero growth. Too, the greatest rate of employment has been in federal jobs. Retail, wholesale, industry, and manufacturing jobs have all flatlined.

    Both government reporting agencies and the media have successfully buried the bad news. The collusion between the two pales in the bleating of the press concerning the possible Trump-ageddon were Trump re-elected this fall. He will come for the gays. He will come for the trans. He will end ALL abortions. He will put all law loving, patriotic Democrats in jail. He has said he will be dictator ON DAY ONE!!! All lies, of course. But half the public seems not only to believe the lie, they embrace it like a child embraces his fluffy toy.

    Sadly, for all of us, the fate of the nation comes down to seven swing states. I hope the folks in those states are paying close attention----but when I look at Pennsylvania for example, my hope in my fellow man falters.

  2. I hope Trump does a whole lot of advertising about the difference in pricing since 2020. Biden talks about reducing inflation, but to VDH’s point, it’s like an obese person gaining 100 lbs, losing four and claiming victory.

  3. This article, like so many others in conservative media, are interesting to read but not terribly realistic. People who steal elections, do not lose elections–and the upcoming election will be no exception.

    The left / Ruling Class et al, will not permit Trump to reclaim the White House. So the question I continue to pose is, what do we do about it?

  4. EB, we are approaching–or perhaps we are already there–a time when many people will refuse to heed the truth, and instead believe lies, encourage the liars, and deny reality.

    Handicapping the upcoming November race is nothing more than parlor games; it is idle speculation about what we should already know will happen.

    But, in the unlikely event I am wrong and the Ruling Class decides not to put its thumb on the scales and allows Trump to win, we can be certain it is because they expect the coming financial collapse to be so bad that it will overwhelm anything Trump could do, saddle him with a responsibility he did not create, and tar him with a curse he does not deserve.

  5. Even if you think, as I do, that 2020 was rigged, you still need to get mad and vote in 2024. With enough votes we can beat the margin of fraud. It’s happened before.

    In the 1982 election for Governor of Illinois, the Chicago Democrats’ Machine cast 100,000 fraudulent votes. Republican Jim Thompson won anyway, by just under 9,000 votes.

    By the way, the Reagan Justice Department got 63 convictions for vote fraud after the 1982 Illinois election. That deterred vote fraud for a decade or two.

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