Six Months Out: Who Will Win the 2024 Election?

Predictions from the Eisenhower Institute’s Inside Washington Students 

By Natalie Frisch ‘27, Sebastian Gikas ‘27, Enna Huseinovic ‘26, Calef Joing ‘27, Chloe Kieper ‘27, Blair O’Connor ‘27 

Edited by Naveen Wineland ’27, Managing Editor

The Eisenhower Institute’s Inside Washington Cohort

As of May 5, the 2024 Presidential Election is now officially six months out. It will likely be a rematch of the 2020 election: former President Donald Trump facing current President Joe Biden. With both candidates headed toward their parties’ nominations, who will win is considered a toss-up. This semester, the Eisenhower Institute’s Inside Washington program examined politics, policymaking, and campaign strategies in a divisive election year. Each of the twelve program participants reflected on who they believe will win the Presidency. Six students submitted reflections to be published in Ike’s Anvil. Three believe Trump will win; three believe Biden will win. 

It is important to note that these predictions do not reflect the authors’ personal political beliefs. They are merely expressing who they believe will win the election as of May 5th, 2024.  Notably, each believes that this election is extremely close and either candidate could win. 

 

 The Case for Biden  

Natalie Frisch, Sebastian Gikas, and Calef Joing believe Biden will likely win the 2024 presidential election. All three argue that it will be close, but believe the election will mainly come down to three factors: abortion, the economy, and candidate quality. These participants also mentioned voter mobilization and fundraising capabilities as major Biden strengths. 

 

Abortion

Students consistently mentioned abortion as being incredibly important for a Biden victory. They noted that abortion was most likely a significant factor in the Democrats’ strong showing in the 2022 Midterm elections. Gikas mentioned that “the overturning of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization allowed Democrats to overcome these hurdles and gain a net of one seat in the Senate, with the Republicans just barely taking control of the House of Representatives.” Both Gikas and Frisch discussed how the Biden campaign focusing on abortion will take attention away from concerns about Biden, especially for moderate, independent voters. Frisch believes that Arizona reinstating “an 1864 total abortion ban and swing states such as Florida passing abortion protection referendum” will make Biden more competitive in critical battleground states.

  

Economy 

All three participants who believe Biden would win reelection also mentioned the economy as a critical factor. Frisch, Gikas, and Joing all mention that, while there have been periods of high inflation during the Biden administration, the economy mostly recovered by 2024 with much lower inflation, higher growth, and low unemployment. All three believe that consumer sentiment has, and will continue, to improve enough to benefit Biden’s reelection campaign.  

Frisch notes, “the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers found that from March 2023-March 2024, the Index of Consumer Sentiment increased from 62 to 79.4, current economic conditions increased from 66.3 to 82.5, and the Index of Consumer Expectations rose from 59.2 to 77.4.” She argues that this evidence of a growing economy will benefit Biden politically. 

Gikas points out Biden’s strong employment record, stating that “the U.S. added over 300,000 jobs in the month of March.” Joing adds that “unemployment is sitting between 3.5 and 4 percent, and over 13 million jobs have been added since President Biden took office,” and “inflation has plummeted.” Joing, like Frisch, also discussed how consumer sentiment seems to be improving, stating that while “[the consumer sentiment] percentage seems low [right now] …an increase of 9 percent means that by the time of the election, Democrats should be in a good spot.” 

 

Candidate Quality 

Candidate quality is a critical factor in an election like this. While all three participants acknowledged Biden’s low approval ratings and questions about his age and communication, all three believe that Trump’s divisiveness will outweigh those factors with voters.  

Gikas says, “there are many issues that [could] drive [a Biden victory], but above all else, it will be the unpopularity of former President Trump. Even prior to leaving office, Trump was never a very popular president.” He adds: “the January 6th attack and the country shutting down due to Covid made [Trump] even more polarizing. Even if these events are not in the mind of the average voter at the present moment, the Biden campaign will surely remind them.” Gikas believes that even if Trump’s criminal charges and controversies surrounding the January 6th insurrection are not front of mind for voters, the Biden campaign will undoubtedly remind them by November 5th.  

Joing believes that the “fear of [another] Donald Trump presidency” will be a critical factor in mobilizing voters. Joing elaborated and stated that “[the Republican Party has “encouraged and increased their support in the ideology that lost them those elections,” citing the MAGA movement’s poor performance in the 2022 Midterms. Joing states that Trump has only gotten more extreme and that this will help Biden mobilize voters. “[Biden] will use his massive campaign budget to tear down Donald Trump and his hopes to become president. Biden’s advertisements will focus more on the dangers of Donald Trump than Biden himself, which will encourage his base to go out and vote for him.”  

Frisch believes that Trump’s legal issues will be vital for the Biden campaign. She cites a Reuters poll that found 68% of registered voters find Trump’s charges to be at least “somewhat serious,” and ¼ of Republican respondents reported “they would not vote for Trump if he was convicted of a felony.” She argues that this is enough to give Biden an edge in the election, especially if it is close. 

 

The Case for Trump  

Chloe Kieper, Enna Huseinovic, and Blair O’Connor believe Donald Trump will most likely win the election. All three, like those who believe Biden will win, add that the election will be incredibly close and predictions about the race could change on the fly. The main factors they cite for a Trump victory are Biden’s age, immigration, international issues, the economy, and advertising. 

 

Immigration 

Huseinovic mentions how originally, “Trump was favored most commonly due to his immigration policy” and that “from his earliest days, Trump’s main selling point during his campaign has been the southern border, which is why he is so popular amongst the southern states.” This implies that, coupled with public opinion on Biden’s immigration policies, immigration will help Trump. However, Huseinovic also believes Trump’s immigration policies could harm him, as he is planning mass deportations and new policy changes through Project 2025. Huseinovic believes that while this may turn away some moderate voters, the common perception of Biden failing on immigration will outweigh concerns about Trump’s extreme immigration policies. 

 

Candidate Quality 

Much like the argument for Biden, candidate quality is also considered crucial for Trump’s victory, especially when coupled with voter perceptions of Biden’s age. O’Connor mentions that “the age of both candidates is a strong concern for voters. In a recent New York Times poll, around 73 percent of respondents believe that Joe Biden is too old to be an effective president, but only 42 percent think the same about Donald Trump,” who is only four years younger. Kieper highlights Biden’s perceived “gaffes, stating that “incidents such as when he fell off his bike in Delaware in 2022, to when he said the U.S. has the lowest inflation rate ‘in America have made Biden mocked across social media and that “it is hard to re-elect a president who is seen as a joke and seems to lack strong leadership characteristics.  

O’Connor cited Trump’s strong ability to advertise, stating that the candidate has “created an addictive brand over the past ten years and that “the red MAGA hat is not just another piece of campaign merch, but an identifiable symbol speaking volumes.” O’Connor believes that Trump’s support is much less elastic than Biden’s and that Trump has much less room to lose support since his supporters are so devoted. O’Connor uses immigration and the January 6th insurrection as examples to support this. He argues if “Biden changed his stance on immigration policy, he would lose votes. In contrast, “as made evident by the January 6th insurrection, President Trump has an enormous group of backers that would quite literally do anything he asked. 

 

Economy 

All three participants believe that the economy under Biden will help Trump win the 2024 election. Kieper mentions how “while [Biden’s] approval also suffers due to internal issues, the rise of inflation has been a serious, day-to-day issue for Americans. This is again a commentary on how perceptions affect the political climate, whether or not these perceptions are true. While the U.S. economy started off strong in 2024, rising prices of household items and groceries have concerned Americans. She further states that even if the economy is doing well by the time of the election, it doesn’t matter if consumer sentiment and perceptions don’t change. 

Huseinovic agrees that Biden’s messaging on the economy has been poor and that Trump is generally favored on this issue. She cites polls that show “only 30% of voters approve of what Biden has done [economically] in his term and that Trump generally receives much higher marks on managing the economy in most polls. The participants believe that, at election time, voters’ views on Biden’s economic management will severely harm him and help propel Trump to the Presidency. 

 

Conclusion 

Six months out, it appears that the 2024 Presidential Election could go either way. This election presents a high-stakes rematch between former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden. Both candidates have strong bases and notable strengths and weaknesses, which adds to the unpredictability. The Eisenhower Institute’s Inside Washington Spring 2024 Cohort highlighted how critical factors like abortion, the economy, immigration, and candidate quality will be vital come November. Participants believe thatat the end of the day, either candidate could win. 

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