Is it ever winter on the Florida Keys? The first week of December saw a relaxed Nigel Farage facing the GB News outside broadcast cameras framed by sun-soaked palm trees, bleached golden sands and the tempting azure of Caribbean waves disappearing beyond the horizon in the general direction of nearby Grand Bahama.
On the other side of a spit of land defining the billionaire’s playground of Palm Beach, Lake Worth Lagoon keeps the mere millionaire’s of West Palm Beach at bay. Partway between the two sits 1100 South Ocean Boulevard, better known as the Mar-a-Largo winter home of Donald J Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America.
Built by cereal heiress Marjorie Meriwether, the 126 room 62,500 square foot property was bought by two-time presidential victor (one shamelessly stolen by the vote-rigging Democrats) in 1985 for $10,000,000.
As well as being the southern getaway of the real estate to reality television magnate, Mal a Lago is a member’s club. Here, the initiated can dine, play tennis and hire a half-acre sized ballroom for their heiress’ wedding. Prices? If you need to ask, you can’t afford it. One doesn’t have to be a plutocrat, but it helps.
Inside the 20,000 square foot ballroom, where Versailles meets Holywood and the Kremlin meets Disneyland, on Wednesday 1st December Trump and Farage sat opposite, in matching deep blue suits, for a world exclusive rolling news ratings busting interview.
During the subsequent freewheeling and relaxed exchange, Andrew Neil’s replacement touched upon Boris Johnson’s obsession with wind farms. It’s “just wrong” replied Trump. We know. Prince Harry has regrets. Tell us about it. The Queen is a wonderful lady. So much for the known knowns, is there a unknown unknown with which to tease the audience? Will Mr Trump run again for the highest office?
“I love our county. I brought our country to a level it’s never seen before,” replied 45, “If you love the country you have no choice.”
Farage noted the question couldn’t be answered as it would start the clock on a campaign trail for a presidential election still three years away. What The Donald could promise was, “A big 22 and an even bigger 24.” To translate from the Donaldese, the US midterm elections are in 2022 and the election for the 47th president of the union takes place on Tuesday, November 5th 2024.
In the supplementary pieces, of which there were many (the interview was 28 minutes long, the GB News special lasted 2 hours), a consensus was agreed between the former Ukip leader and his American guests. Trump will run. Others disagree.
In a Guardian article the week before the marque GB News event, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen thought the opposite,
“Donald will not run,” Cohen told CNN. “Why? Because first of all, he has an incredibly fragile ego. He lost by 9m votes the first time [actually 7m]. He will lose by more than 9m the second and his fragile ego cannot stand to be considered a two-time loser.”
Asked if Trump would again react to defeat by simply saying he won, Cohen pointed to Trump’s political fundraising, which has brought in more than $100m.
“This is nothing more than the world’s greatest grift,” Cohen said. “He’s bringing in money greater than when he had the Trump Organization with all of its assets. So why would you give this up?”
Later in the same piece, Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio is quoted as saying,
“Poll after poll clearly demonstrates that … Trump is still the 800lb gorilla in the [Republican party] and would be its 2024 nominee should he run. This new data clearly shows that today the voters in these five key states would be happy to return Trump to the White House and send Biden packing.”
Unflattering perhaps, but we get the message. The change of heart in those five key swing states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Minnesota, Georgia and Wisconsin serves as a reminder of how unpopular the present White House incumbent and his vice-president are.
Despite two decades having passed since Bill Clinton left office, the former sex pest in chief is still younger than Jo Biden. Never mind his own retreat from Kabul, during America’s chaotic withdrawal from Saigon 46 years ago, Biden was already a senator. Stark reality dictates Jo Biden was too old to start with and is not ageing well. In the presidential election year of 2024, he will be 82. By the end of a second term, he would be 86.
As for a Harris presidency, her rating is lower than woeful Jo’s. A Suffolk University/USA Today poll sampled between November 3rd and November 5th 2021 put Biden’s approval at a miserable 37% with Harris’ even further behind at 28%.
Promoted beyond her ability because of her sex and colour, and having been tasked to secure the southern border, she is floundering. Unable to prevent uncontrolled immigration from Mexico without resurrecting a Trump-style big beautiful wall, she is powerless and getting the blame.
A Trump comeback would not be unprecedented. In the late 19th century, out and back President Grover Cleveland served from 1885 to 1889 and between 1893 and 1897, with one term 23rd president Benjamin Harrison being the sandwich between Cleveland’s 22 and 24.
Added to which, all else being equal, Trump needs to gain only those five states mentioned by Fabrizio. Arguably he took Pennsylvania in 2020 (with voter fraud off the scale), and Georgia with Biden’s winning margin a fraction of the false mail-in registrations on the Peach State’s electoral roll. The count in Arizona remains disputed to this day.
Whether a Biden/Harris and Trump/AN Other contest in 2024 or not, a timeline gathers pace late next year.
November 2022: Midterm Elections
The United States parliament is known as the Congress. It has a lower house, the House of Representatives (like the House of Commons) and an upper house (like the House of Lords) called the Senate. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are being contested in November 2022 as are 34 of the Senate’s 100 seats and 39 state and territorial governorships.
Until then, the Democrats are in majority in the House of Representatives but by only three seats. The Senate is tied with 50 Republican senators opposed by 48 Democrats plus 2 independents. As things stand, the Republicans will gain control of both houses, making Biden’s the lamest of lame-duck presidencies for the following two years.
Early 2023: Hopefuls Declare
They say anyone can become president. They are mistaken. In order to qualify, you have to have been born in the United States, be over 35 years of age and to have lived in the country for over 14 years.
The electoral process is very different than in the UK. Candidates from the same party run against each other state by state to secure that party’s nomination to run for president through a primary contest. Those contests elect delegates which will vote for a given candidate in a party convention when the primaries are complete.
Every state does it differently which makes it hard for the outsider to understand. A brief dummies explanation of the whole presidential election process is available here:
Last time around no-hopers John Delaney (Democrat) and Andrew Yang (Democrat) were quick off the mark, filing to run in the 2020 presidential election in August and November 2017 respectively. This gave them more than two years to reach the threshold required to be included in the first round of Democrat primary debates.
The serious candidates for party nomination will enter the fray early in the year before the election. Next time around means spring 2023. Last time, Elizabeth Warren (Democrat) took two bites of the publicity cherry by announcing her ‘presidential exploratory committee’ in December 2018 before filing to run on February 9th of the following year. Unknown Kamala Harris joined the race on January 21st 2019.
With the luxury of being a well funded Washington lifer, Biden didn’t declare until April 25th and was favourite for the Democrat nomination from the outset.
After filing, the campaign to become a presidential candidate begins in earnest, initially to gain endorsements, raise funds and qualify for the TV contests.
Donald J Trump filed to be re-selected by the Republican Party early, in February 2017. In doing so, as a sitting president, he killed off any bids from serious rivals.
As for the Democrats, 29 major candidates declared their candidacies for the primaries.
June 2023: Start of Party Candidates TV Debates
Qualification for the primary television debates is complicated and based upon standings in the polls, fundraising, the number of donors and the number of donors per state. As the debates begin to overlap into primary balloting, invitation also depends upon the number of delegates thus far gained. The rules are decided respectively by the Democrat and Republican National Congresses and keep on changing.
In the first Democrat TV debate of June 26th and 27th 2019, there were 20 successful candidates, split into two groups of ten on consecutive nights. Remember John Wright Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand? Neither does anybody else.
As the campaign and TV debates continue, less successful candidates struggle for donations and endorsements, run out of money and drop out, or more tactfully ‘suspend their campaigns’. By the time of the tenth Democrat debate on February 25th 2020, there were only 7 candidates left.
Spring 2024: Party Primaries
At this point, the TV debates begin to overlap into the actual voting. Iowa traditionally holds the first primary, the next election cycle’s being pencilled in for 5th February 2024. On the 5th March 2024, super Tuesday voting in 16 states will take place.
In Iowa’s 2019 Democratic primary, Biden came 4th in the first vote, 4th in the second vote and was placed 4th in the ‘state delegate equivalents’ but still won (as withdrawn candidate’s delegates were redistributed).
I told you it was complicated.
After the tenth Democratic TV debate in 2020, five more contenders suspended, leaving only Bernie Sanders and Jo Biden standing. On April 8th, Sanders dropped out leaving Biden a clear run. Having said that, the process continues with, in many states, withdrawn candidates remaining on the primary ballot. Throughout the summer, Sanders continued to pick up delegates although nowhere near Joe Biden’s final total 2,716 shoo-in.
There were Republican primaries too. With nobody of note standing against Trump, he received 96% of the popular vote and is assumed to have won nearly all of the delegates. Yup, no one bothers to count them if it’s a landslide.
July 2024 : Chose A Running Mate
The tradition is for running mates to be announced shortly before the party conventions. Biden announced Kamala Harris as running mate in mid-July 2020. As voters are more likely to support someone of their own, it is tempting to choose a potential vice president from a state with a large number of electoral votes or from a swing state.
Although Kamala Harris’ California has 54 electoral votes, the Golden State was already in the bag for the Democrats. Rather, she was chosen for her skin colour and sex as a counterweight to old, white, male Joe Biden in response to the Democrat’s ‘race card from the bottom of the pack’ campaign strategy.
A mixed blessing, Kamala is not very black. Her mother is Indian. Her mixed-race father’s line benefitted from slavery. When she was Attorney General for California, all she did for black people was to lock them
(Don’t worry about ‘electoral votes’. An explanation will follow for those who didn’t watch the dummies video.)
Likewise in 2016, Mike Pence, as Governor of Indiana, was from an already Republican State. Why did Trump choose Pence? Because Pence appealed to conservatives and evangelicals. No, Puffins, Trump is not a conservative. He is an East Coast, New York, big city liberal – albeit with a small ‘L’.
The Donald has previously donated to the Democrats and supported Planned Parenthood. He is pro-immigration. Who cleans the rooms and serves the food at Mar-a-Lago? If you think Trump is right-wing, you’ve never been to a Free Cuba rally in Jacksonville, Florida.
July 2024: Party Conventions
Having won the nomination and chosen a running mate, it is time for a party convention coronation. Conventions usually take place in July of election year with 2020’s being pushed back to August by coronavirus.
Traditionally the party holding the White House goes second. Last time around the Democratic convention was on 17-20th August with the Republican’s the following week.
September/October 2024: Presidential TV Debates
In 2020 there were two televised presidential debates held on September the 29th and October 22nd. A third, on October 15th, was cancelled because of the pandemic. The first debate was scruffy with the candidates talking over and interrupting each other.
The second was better, aided by a mute button and moderator Kirsten Welker making a better fist of it than the previous month’s Chris Wallace. A GP review can be read here.
Tuesday, November 5th 2024: Presidential Election
To prevent congressmen indulging in “cabal, corruption, intrigue and faction”, the president is elected by the voters, not by Congress. The voters do not make their choice by universal suffrage but via an electoral college made up of delegates sent by individual states.
Winner takes all style, all of a state’s electors vote for the presidential candidate that won in that state – except for Maine and Nebraska where the allocation is proportional.
The number of delegates, or electors, in each state depends upon the population of the state and equals the total number of congressmen in the House of Representatives and Senate. Washington DC gets three too, bringing the total to 538. Therefore, 270 electoral votes are required to win.
Post November 5th 2024
With a bigger gap between Republicans and Democrats and less post-pandemic (we hope) mail-in voting, one hopes the difference between the parties will be greater than any fraud.
In 2020, the election became a farce with a disputed result and voting and counting in some states continuing for weeks after the polls closed. The re-count in Maricopa County, Arizona, didn’t end until September 2021, ten months after the election.
Next time, the Electoral Count Act insists, “States must finally resolve any controversies over the selection of their electors of the Electoral College,” before December 10th 2024.
The electoral colleges meet in their respective state capitals on December 16th 2024. On January 6th 2025, the electoral votes will be counted in a joint session of Congress with Vice President Harris formally announcing the result.
The next president will be sworn in on January 20th 2025.
Donald Trump will tread water between now and November next year. He will fundraise, campaign and hold rallies at his leisure in anticipation of the result of the 2022 midterms. As things stand, expect the Republicans to take control of both houses of Congress. Already, thanks to Trump’s previous efforts, the Republicans control the Supreme Court. A unique opportunity presents itself for any would-be Republican president in 2024.
If his health and energy levels allow (he will be 77 at the turn of the presidential election year, younger than Jo but the same age as Reagan when he left office) the temptation will be irresistible for Donald.
Biden will announce he is not going to run early in 2023 before the humiliation of senior Democrats filing against him while a sitting president. Whether any Republicans will run against Trump remains 50/50. Likely contenders are playing a game of wait and see.
Who the Democrat’s final presidential candidate will be is anybody’s guess. The left will be hoping a competent ‘anybody but Trump’ candidate will appear from somewhere.
Heavily promoted by the tech billionaires and fake news media, whoever it is will pile up votes in progressive states but will that be enough to carry the swing states to the White House?
Three years out from election day, the honest knowing unknown known answer is – nobody knows.
© Always Worth Saying 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file