With the dust still settling around the 2020 presidential election and the seismic events of January 6 still shaking the core of American democracy, the political calculations of politicians of both parties are in full view.
How will full-throated support for not certifying the results of the election impact the future of GOP lawmakers? What will be the impact of the calls for the 25th amendment and impeachment from Democratic leaders?
For some, this isn’t just calculations for the next congressional or senatorial campaign. Eyeing a run for president in 2024, these decisions could come to doom — or catapult — potential candidates.
With that in mind, here are three way-too-early 2024 primary predictions for each party.
Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley
While Cruz’s spearheading of the anti-certification effort on January 6 could cost him, odds are that he is rewarded by Trump’s populist base. And it’s clear Cruz has his eyes on the Oval Office, after a nearly-successful campaign in 2016.
Hawley, the junior senator from Missouri, is more likely to face significant repercussions for his actions this past week, especially given his salute to rioters only hours before they attacked the Capitol. Already, Hawley’s colleague from Nebraska Ben Sasse has called his actions “really dumbass.”
Likewise, back home, Hawley is facing calls to resign from two prominent newspapers. “Josh Hawley has blood on his hands,” the Kansas City Star editorial board wrote. “He should do Missourians and the rest of the country a big favor and resign now,” an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch read.
But despite this criticism, Hawley was — and is — a rising star in the party. Only 41 years old, Hawley could make his case in 2024 as the future of the GOP.
There’s always the chance that Trumpism is firmly rejected and that the outgoing president becomes a pariah to the party. In that case, voters could have an appetite for candidates who had nothing to do with Trump.
Sununu, the massively-popular governor of New Hampshire, has been angling for a national run by saying all members of congress should be fired for their inaction. While he has supported Trump in the past, he is distanced enough to avoid those woes and conservative enough to garner support.
The case for Sununu, as opposed to other politicians distanced from Trump — even other governors, like Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker or Maryland’s Larry Hogan — is that he is more conservative. Even if the GOP abandons the rougher edges of Trumpism, it won’t abandon its values.
While his political career could be over after Trump, it could also be just beginning. With the highest name recognition of anyone in the potential 2024 field, he would have an inherent advantage. It remains to be seen whether living through four years of Trump would be seen as a plus or minus for Pence.
Whether Joe Biden runs for a second term in 2024 is up in the air, given he would be 82 years old by then. If he doesn’t run — which appears as the most likely path at this point — here are his potential successors for the Democratic nomination.
As a product of her vice presidency, Harris is now the heir-apparent in the Democratic party. As such, she is the most likely candidate — and, frankly, the most likely next president. If Biden does not run again, Harris may be viewed as close to an incumbent in the race as any candidate.
Her primary weakness is exactly that. If the Biden administration goes off the rails or fails to deliver on its promises, her incumbency could be more of a hindrance than anything else.
Named transportation secretary in the last weeks of 2020, Buttigieg will now have a national platform from which to launch another national campaign. His liabilities with voters of color and the far-left could again sink his campaign, but with at least two years to broaden his coalition, Buttigieg has enough time to solve his existing problems.
Another rising star of the Democratic Party, AOC has the polar opposite weaknesses that Buttigieg has. AOC, should she run, would lack moderate support and would be a magnet for GOP attacks.
But on the other hand, her name recognition is through the roof and she hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be bloodied by a long voting record or claims of inaction. Her compelling personal narrative would also lend towards a national campaign.
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The largest question mark for Republicans is how Trump’s influence will impact the party in 2024. For Democrats, the question is simpler: Will Biden run again?
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