The American Presidential Elections: A Repeat of the 2020 Scenario

On Tuesday, March 12, President Joe Biden and his rival, former President Donald Trump, won the nominations of the Democratic and Republican parties for the US presidential elections in November 2024. The nominations of the two candidates will be officially confirmed at their parties’ national conferences. The Republican Party will hold its national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July 2024, while the Democratic National Convention will be held in August in Chicago, Illinois. With the primaries decided so early in both parties, this will be one of the longest general election campaigns in modern American history.

Two Candidates Rejected by the American Voter

The two opponents faced no real competition in the primaries; Biden has won all the primaries that have taken place to date, with the exception of American Samoa, and the same is true for Trump, who has won all the Republican primaries to date, with the exception of Vermont and Washington, D.C., which he lost to his rival, Nikki Haley. However, opinion polls show that the majority of Americans are not enthusiastic about a second round of competition between the two men who faced off in the 2020 elections and the resulting sharp divisions that many fear will deepen further in the coming months. Trump still insists that the presidency was stolen from him in 2020 by rigging the election results in favor of Biden, and this opinion is held by a third of Americans.1 Trump faces a package of criminal cases, some of which are related to his attempt to influence the election results in the state of Georgia, which he lost by a few thousand votes to Biden, and his accusation of inciting his supporters to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to prevent the certification of the results of the presidential elections.
Recent opinion polls indicate that only 38 percent of Americans support, although previous experience show that the incumbent needs to exceed the threshold of 50 percent of popular support to win a second term.2 Biden is the least popular incumbent president since World War II seeking re-election. George Bush Sr., and Trump himself, lost their reelections in 1992 and 2020, respectively, when the percentage of popular satisfaction with their performance was around 40 percent.3 However, at 40 percent, Trump’s popularity does not look much better.
Biden and Trump are working to mobilize the “counter-voter” of the opponent, aware of their low popularity, under the pretext that these elections are crucial and the future of America depends on them.4 After securing his party’s nomination, Biden gave a speech in which he described Trump as a dangerous threat to democracy, and that he “runs a campaign of bitterness and revenge that threatens the very idea of ​​America.” Likewise, Trump declared after celebrating “D-Day” over his rival Haley that it was necessary “to get back to work because we have the worst president in the history of our country.”
Still, the majority of Americans are still not enthusiastic about the fact that the two men are the presidential nominees this year, with 56 percent of American adults saying they would be “very” or “somewhat” dissatisfied if Biden was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee; Biden is 81 years old, and he is the oldest president in the history of the United States, and the effects of his age on his mental and physical abilities are obvious. Fifty-eight percent of voters said they would be “very” or “somewhat” dissatisfied if Trump, who is 77 years old and faces criminal, civil, federal, and state cases, becomes the Republican Party’s nominee. While Biden and Trump enjoy the support of the majority of their parties’ bases—three-quarters of Democrats say their view of Biden is positive while 7 out of 10 Republicans say the same thing about Trump—the category of “strongly supportive” of Trump within the Republican Party (46 percent) is higher than its counterpart within the Democratic Party in favor of Biden (34 percent).5 Although the percentage of those who view Biden and Trump negatively among the general electorate is equal (55 percent), Republicans are more enthusiastic about a second presidential term for Trump (44 percent), compared to 22 percent of Democrats for Biden.6

General Public Mood

Most opinion polls conducted in early March show a slight lead for Trump over Biden, ranging between two and four points.7 Although the results of all current opinion polls are within the margin of error, they paint a pessimistic picture of Biden’s chances. The results of these polls indicate that Trump is ahead of Biden in the states of Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada by five points or more. Biden won the states of Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin in the 2020 elections by one percentage point or less, while no Democratic presidential candidate has lost the state of Nevada since 2004. However, even if Biden loses all of those states, he can still win the presidency if he wins the rest of the other states that he won in 2020, and that will give him 270 Electoral College votes versus 268 for Trump. But Biden needs to win the swing state of Michigan, where support is declining for several reasons, the most important of which is his support for the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.8
A CBS News poll conducted earlier this March says that Trump leads Biden 52 to 48 percent among likely voters. However, a subsequent poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos showed that Biden had a one percentage point lead over Trump since registered voters nationally support him more than they support Trump. Only two-thirds of eligible voters participated in the 2020 presidential election, in which Biden defeated Trump. However, the same poll shows a Trump lead over Biden (40 to 37 percent) among registered voters in the seven states whose results were very close in 2020.9 Since the elections are held on the basis of states and not at the national level, this means that Biden may win the popular vote, but lose in the electoral college.
An opinion poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University after Biden’s State of the Union address in Congress on March 7 shows that American voters’ views on the state of the economy have reached their highest level during Biden’s presidency. A third of registered voters said they believe the economy is recovering since the Covid-19 pandemic, but this did not increase support for Biden.
The electoral landscape becomes even more ambiguous if we take into account the factor of independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who opinion polls indicate will have the support of 15 percent of registered voters if he is able to obtain enough signatures to put his name on ballots in a number of states. Kennedy’s campaign says it has enough signatures to include his name in six states, including Nevada, Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, and New Hampshire. Although it is difficult to say whom Kennedy’s candidacy will harm more, Biden or Trump, as it appears that he is attracting equal support from both, the Biden campaign fears that this might cost it the states of Nevada and New Hampshire, and thus, the presidency.10

Biden’s and Trump’s Chances

President Biden is considered to be in a strong electoral position to win a second presidential term, as his current presidency saw the passage of a number of major pieces of legislation, such as the infrastructure development laws in 2021 and the semiconductor construction laws in 2022, in addition to a strong economy, low unemployment, and high growth. In addition, it has re-enhanced confidence in the American leadership among allies in the world, especially in NATO, after doubts prevailed about it during Trump’s presidency. The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee currently have more than $130 million, double what the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have, giving Biden an advantage in the coming weeks in terms of advertising, opening his campaign’s election offices in swing states, and hiring more staff.
Still, these achievements did not enhance Biden’s popular and electoral standing; This is due to the rise in food prices, basic supplies, and rent, as well as sustained inflation, despite its decline in recent months. These are factors that affect the average American citizen, and make him doubt the president’s promises to restore normal life after the Corona pandemic, which his predecessor, Trump, was accused of failing to address. The challenges facing Biden in dealing with the border crisis and reducing the number of illegal immigrants provide Trump with an opportunity to raise the fears of a wide segment of white Americans about what he describes as a “foreign invasion” of the country. Many Americans, including the disinterested ranks of the Democratic Party, also fear that Biden will not be medically qualified for a second term that ends when he turns 86 years old.11 The effects of aging are evident on Biden, both physically and mentally. This is despite his attempts to reassure skeptical voters that he is still capable of holding the most important office in the world.
However, the biggest challenge facing Biden is maintaining the broad Democratic coalition that former President Barack Obama built in 2008, which guaranteed him two presidential terms, and which Hillary Clinton was unable to sustain, and this cost her the 2016 elections to Trump. This coalition consists of the traditional base of the Democratic Party, the progressive and liberal movement, minorities, women, and youth. Biden was able to restore this alliance in 2020, driven by the desire of its components at the time to get rid of Trump, which helped him win the presidency. But the situation is very different today than it was in 2020.
The Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday, March 5, revealed a rift in Biden’s electoral coalition that may amount to an organized protest rebellion against him because of his position on the Israeli war on Gaza.12 More than 100,000 (13 percent) of Arabs, Muslims, progressives, and youth voted “non-committed” in the primary elections in the swing state of Michigan, expressing their anger at the absolute support that Biden provides for the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, and his failure to impose a ceasefire there. This was repeated in Minnesota, where about 46,000 (20 percent) voted “not committed.” Democratic ballots in six other states on Super Tuesday, namely Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Tennessee, witnessed “non-committal” votes, and the percentages in those states ranged between 3.9 percent in the state of Iowa and 12.7 percent in the state of North Carolina.13
Clinton lost the state of Michigan to Trump in 2016 by less than 11,000 votes, while Biden won it against Trump in 2020 by less than 155,000 votes. Current opinion polls show Trump ahead of Biden in that state. The same is true for the state of Minnesota, which Clinton won in 2016 against Trump by less than 44,000 votes. As for the state of North Carolina, which Biden succeeded in wresting from Trump in 2020 with less than 74,000 votes, more than 88,000 voted “not committed.”
As for Trump, despite being the first former president to be indicted on criminal charges, he was able to defeat all of his rivals in the Republican Party early in the primaries. Despite the turmoil and chaos that accompanied the four years of his presidency, most opinion polls show him ahead of Biden, especially in a number of swing states. The Trump campaign is now focusing its efforts on the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona.
However, Trump faces significant challenges that may derail his bid for a second term. On the one hand, he faces four separate criminal cases, with a total of 91 charges. On the other hand, he suffers from weak support among certain segments of voters, even from within his party. An opinion poll showed that only about 37 percent of supporters of his Republican rival, Nikki Haley, intend to vote for him after she withdrew from the competition for the Republican Party nomination. About 16 percent said they would vote for Biden, while the rest said they would vote for someone else or not vote at all.14 The Republican primaries showed that Trump has a problem with voters in cities, college towns, and suburbs, which are home to moderate and more educated Republicans. For example, in the swing state of North Carolina, which has a growing number of college-educated voters, 81 percent of those who supported Haley said they would not vote for Trump in November.15 In addition, Biden’s accusations that Trump represents a threat to democracy have proven effective in the 2022 midterm elections, and may be an influential factor in the upcoming presidential elections. Trump recently threatened a “bloodbath” if he lost these elections.16


It is too early to predict who will win the upcoming US presidential elections, but it is clear that the two candidates, the Democrat and the Republican, are not very popular among voters, and their weaknesses are clear. Therefore, the United States may be on the cusp of a major political and legal battle, if one of the two candidates does not win a decisive victory, which could put the stability of the country to a major test.
This situation assessment was first published in Arabic on March 21, 2024 by Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.

The views expressed in this publication are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Arab Center Washington DC, its staff, or its Board of Directors.

1 Sarah Fortinsky, “One-third of Adults in New Poll Say Biden’s Election Was Illegitimate,” The Hill, January 2, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
2 Megan Brenan, “Biden’s Job Approval Edges Down to 38%,” Gallup, February 23, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
3 Harry Enten, “Why it will be tough for Biden to defeat Trump,” CNN, March 9, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
4 Cas Mudde, “The Not-so-Super Tuesday is over. America Has Two Clear Choices Ahead,” The Guardian, March 6, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
5 Seung Min Kim & Linley Sanders, “‘Uniquely Horrible Choice:’ Few US Adults Want a Biden-Trump Rematch in 2024, an AP-NORC Poll Shows,” Associated Press, December 14, 2023, accessed March 21, 2024, at
6 Chris Stein, “Biden Slightly Behind Trump but Voters’ Views of Economy Improve, Poll Shows,” The Guardian, March 13, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
7 Enten, “Why it will be tough.”
8 Ibid.
9 Jason Lange, “Biden vs. Trump: Who is leading the polls?” Reuters, March 15, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
10 Eric Bradner, Gregory Krie, and Simone Pathe, “Takeaways from Super Tuesday,” CNN, Match 6, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
11 Stephen Collinson, “America has Never had a Presumptive Nominee like Donald Trump,” CNN, March 6, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
12 Ibid.
13 Nandita Bose, “’Uncommitted’ Protest Vote Over Gaza Again Raises Questions for Biden,” Reuters, March 6, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at
14 Lange, “Biden vs. Trump.”
15 Bradner, et al., “Takeaways.”
16 “In Ohio Campaign Rally, Trump Says there will be a ‘Bloodbath’ if he Loses November Election,” CBSNews, March 17, 2024, accessed March 21, 2024, at