WASHINGTON, DC – It’s more than a year away, but it’s never too early for national election predictions.
Charlie Cook, founder of The Cook Political Report, presented his analysis of the November 2024 election at the International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962 Washington Conference, September 14.
Republican presidential nomination
“It’s Trump,” Cook said. “Unless something happens health wise, take it to the bank.”
Cook didn’t mention it, but former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson even suggested Trump could be assassinated.
Cook said some critics say former President Donald Trump’s leads in early primary states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, aren’t as high as the other two times he ran, but they’re still more than 30 percentage points above any other candidate, and he’s doing better in most states.
Republican primary voters really like him. Cook said polls show that three-quarters of Republicans say they like him; two-thirds think he won the 2020 election but got cheated; and two-thirds say they don’t care about the attacks on his, as they’re just politically motivated.
Democratic presidential nomination
President Biden says he seeks re-election and started running ads recently. However, he is having trouble shaking his age and the economy, Cook said.
“He is three years older than Trump but looks much older,” Cook said. “How will he be five years from now?”
While Biden has governed further to the left than he campaigned, which has made many supporters happy, Cook said two-thirds of Democrat voters tell pollsters they don’t think he should run.
He said in a recent poll of the top nine political issues (economy, Ukraine war, trade, etc.) Biden has had higher disapproval numbers than approval in all nine. And Vice President Harris fares the same in the nine issues, so she’s not an easy successor.
At this point, Cook said it’s pretty even if it’s Trump vs. Biden again. The last two elections were decided by a few thousand votes in key swing states, despite the Democratic nominee beating Trump in the popular vote twice, which he pointed out, does not matter.
“Both of them have a lot of baggage,” Cook said. Both parties chances would go up by nominating someone else and running against the other’s unpopularity, but he said neither looks like it will take that approach.
“Both parties have changed a lot in 30 or 40 years,” he said.
The Democrats won the House of Representatives by five seats in 2020, and Republicans won it by five seats in 2022. Cook said it look as close to even as he’s seen, a year out.
In the Senate, it’s also very close, but Cook said Democrats are more vulnerable. Since a Senate term is six years, only one-third are up for election each two years. In 2024, he said Democrats have seven seats up that Trump won the state in either election. Republicans have no seats in states that Clinton or Biden won.
“It’s a bad map for Democrats in 2024,” Cook said. “It will be very difficult for Democrats to hold the Senate.”
However, he cautioned that in 2022, Republicans nominated a handful of candidates that lost Senate races they should have won.
“I call them exotic or problematic,” he said. “My wife told me not to call them wackos.”
Cook said he thinks national Republicans have learned their lesson and will run more traditional Senate candidates in 2024.