Jim Crawford: Biden vs. Trump, a look at a repeat contest

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 29, 2024

The 2024 election is underway, and it looks like it will be a re-match of 2020, with Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump, a race most Americans did not desire, in large part because of the age of both men and the low public polling support of both.

Nikki Haley is making a dent, for now at least, in the Trump re-nomination, but her challenge is seen as unlikely to succeed by most Republican election experts. So, if it is the Trump-Biden race again, how do undecided voters pick the candidate they support based on the issues?

There are currently five issues that dominate the polling interests of Americans; the economy, foreign affairs, abortion rights, immigration; and democracy.

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While Americans know both men well, their respective positions on these key public issues will define how independent and undecided voters determine the winner of the presidency in 2024.

• On the economy, Biden has polled poorly, despite most economic indicators reporting a strong, resilient economy. Recent polling has shown a marked increase in consumer confidence, however, improving Biden’s opportunity to gain support on this crucial issue.

The biggest challenge Biden faces on the economy appears to be interest rates that are holding back the housing market. For Trump, he can only hope the economy struggles in 2024 and has said as much publicly.

• On foreign affairs, Biden is committed to supporting Ukraine and Israel in their respective wars, and NATO and our Asian partners in standing against Chinese expansion intentions.

Trump has asked the Republican House to withhold aid to Ukraine and has done little to free up aid to Israel. Biden is nearing a split with Netanyahu on a two-state solution with the Palestinians, while Trump supports Netanyahu’s policies without reservation. Both candidates see China as the largest potential threat to U.S. interests. Biden sees Russian leader Putin as a war criminal, while Trump embraces Putin in public statements.

• On abortion, Trump proudly tells his audiences that his Supreme Court nominations resulted in the reversal of Roe v. Wade, ending abortion rights for all American women. Biden supports all efforts to ensure abortion rights protection for every American woman. Here, the candidates stand in stark contrast.

• Immigration, a key issue for decades, has been a complicated issue for Biden, as the number of immigrants applying for asylum has increased over his presidency to record levels. Recently, the Biden administration has worked with the Senate to produce new legislation designed to regain control over the southern border while protecting human dignity for those seeking asylum.

The current bill in the Senate is described by Republican senators as the strongest and best bill possible to resolve the border crisis. It is much-needed legislation. But, in a purely political move, Trump has demanded his congressional Republicans sign no border bill that would reflect positively on Biden, preferring to ignore the border crisis for political benefit.

It appears the Republican House will kill any bipartisan attempt to address the Southern border, giving the Democrats an election issue that had favored the Republicans in 2024.

• In terms of Democracy, Trump has voiced his inclination to be a president who leads by personality, eschewing law and custom where it inhibits his goals. Many Trump supporters accept this authoritarian approach, valuing a “strong man” leadership style. Conversely, Biden acknowledges the challenges of keeping a representative government as an effective tool for the nation but calls out Trump’s leadership intentions as anti-democratic.

Every Presidential election is, at its time, the most important election ever. 2024 can make that claim with some serious foundation. For all Americans, the response is to vote, freedom demands it.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.