The Longest General Election

Without a typical primary season for 2024, it will be about President Trump dominating the landscape and leading a political movement unlike anything we have seen in modern times.Edit

by Newt Gingrich

We are now living through the longest general election campaign in history.

With President Donald Trump’s victories in Iowa and New Hampshire – and his massive lead for the Republican presidential nomination in national polls – the Republican nomination was decided on Jan. 23.

No one has ever tried to have a national conversation for 286 days before an election.

The only president to lose re-election and then come back and win was Grover Cleveland, who won in 1884, lost in 1888, and then won again in 1892. However, in that era campaigning was relatively short and episodic. There was no television, radio, or social media.

Now, we have a country with a high capacity for boredom (there is a reason virtually all the top-rated television shows are NFL football games, and that various fake reality shows can be found all over the place).

Furthermore, the news media is desperate to fill the air 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The news producers, editors, and reporters were hoping for a long nomination fight to give them lots to cover. They are now in a state of shock – and even more desperate to find some news hook that will draw in viewers and readers.

There will be constant pressure to find something negative with which to attack and undermine the Trump campaign in particular – and Republicans in general.

In the short run, Congress will get more coverage than it normally would during primary season. However, most Americans do not follow congressional activities. While important, most debates on the floor of Congress are not terribly exciting.

A long campaign is also a significant challenge for the Biden administration. Joe Biden’s people would have loved to watch the Republicans tear each other apart for months (and catalogued every candidates’ opposition research on Trump).

In the ideal Biden world, all political coverage for the next six months would be negative – and about Republicans. 

Instead, the 2024 political drama will be about President Trump dominating the landscape and leading a political movement unlike anything we have seen in modern times.

A vigorous series of Trump rallies will be an amazing contrast with the passiveness, slow, meager Biden campaign effort. You aren’t going to be seeing 20,000-plus excited Biden supporters relishing a 90-minute speech by their candidate. The rhythm and pattern of the two campaigns is going to be a case study in asymmetry.

The biggest advantage President Trump has is the ability to campaign in states where he can grow the party and strengthen candidates for governor, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House.

The second great advantage of being finished with the nomination campaign is Trump and his team will now have time to develop positive issues and themes throughout the country.

The American left and President Biden would like to make this election about the recent past – and especially Jan. 6. They want to create Trump into a fantasy demon who poses an existential threat to the survival of American freedom. (Note, as the left is actively trying to arrest and strike from ballots its political opponent, it is also claiming democracy will die if he wins the election.) 

For their leftwing fanatic base, that image is real, powerful, and emotionally fulfilling. For the rest of the country, it is dwarfed by the realities of Biden’s practical failures on virtually every front – and the degree to which most of the country rejects the radical left’s values and actions.

President Trump and the Republicans have a simple model to follow that will create a trap in which to capture the Biden record. Essentially, it’s a sandwich.

For the bottom piece of bread, they can refer back to the achievements from Trump’s first term. As a former president, Trump is in a unique position to describe what he has done and what he will do. His administration grew the economy. It made America energy independent while lowering the price of gasoline, natural gas, and heating oil. The Trump administration kept inflation under control. It controlled the border. It supported law enforcement and fought crime. It stopped terrorism and exercised effective power in the world. It rebuilt and strengthening NATO and negotiated with foreign governments on trade and other issues with great effectiveness. 

The middle of the sandwich contrasts Trump’s achievements with Biden’s failures. Virtually, every public opinion poll shows that most Americans think Trump’s past policies worked better for them than Biden’s current policies.

For the top slice of bread, Trump and Republicans can project forward and describe a future of extraordinary opportunities that will strengthen America. They can talk about increasing Americans’ standard of living, and stopping illegal immigration, drugs, and crime. They can describe a dramatically better education system. They can talk about a renewed and reformed military that can protect America, help our allies, and deter our opponents. They can outline breakthroughs in space, health outcomes, and artificial intelligence that will improve Americans’ lives.

Ideally, each layer would get roughly equal time and focus. Biden will be painfully trapped between Trump’s success in the past – and his promise of a better future. 

With the nominating race over – and 286 days to campaign – no Republican has ever had the potential to grow such a startling majority. If Trump cheerfully contrasts his past success with Biden’s failure – and focuses on a positive future, he could attract people who have never talked with or joined Republicans.

This is going to be an extraordinary campaign.

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