Journalist Gives Perspective on Presidential Politics

  • Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be running against each other in the 2024 presidential election, something political analyst Amy Walter would not have predicted a year ago when it seemed both men were not in a strong enough position to win their primaries.  

    “We have a rematch between our 2020 candidates, and it’s a rematch that nobody really wants in this country,” said Walter, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.

    “Nobody after the 2020 election was like…that was such a great election I wish we could do that again,” she said to laughter in an address to big-city school leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Council of the Great City Schools’ recent Annual Legislative/ Policy Conference. 

    Walter recalled that the last time the nation had a sitting president run against the person that he beat in the previous election was in 1890, and the same six states that decided the 2020 presidential election -- Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada -- will decide the 2024 election. The presidential winner in those six states did not win any of the states by more than three points.

    “So, the odds of this being another very, very, close race are very high,” said Walter.

    However, she also pointed out, some important differences between this upcoming presidential election and the previous one. In the 2020 election Joe Biden was a candidate and not the president. “That's a very different position to be in,” said Walter. “All of you who are in leadership positions know it’s a lot easier to be the person as the challenger or the person doing the criticizing. Once you get into the job and you’re the one that the buck stops with then all of it comes on you.”

    The former political director of ABC News pointed out that Biden’s popularity is much lower than when he was a candidate, and while President Obama and Trump have had hard core or “ride and die” supporters, Biden doesn’t have that type of support.

    “Thirty-eight percent of voters in 2020 said they voted for Joe Biden because they liked him,” said Walter. “The rest said, ‘I voted for him because I hate Donald Trump.’ That percentage hasn't changed.” 

    Walter observed that the U.S. economy has steadily bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic and is in good shape compared to other economies around the world, but that's not how human beings operate.

    “They operate based on what it means for them in their own lives,” said Walter, citing inflation as a reason why Trump polls better on the economy than Biden. 

    “As a candidate, Trump is better positioned today going into this election than at any point in his previous run,” said Walter. 

    But she believes Trump’s challenge is that his support has a ceiling, and he has not done more to attract moderate or independent voters.

    The frequent on-air analyst said what’s different now is the coalition Trump is putting together, which includes more Latino and black voters. “And when I say doing better, it's not that he's winning those voters necessarily, it's that he's losing them by a smaller percentage than he had in the last election,” said Walter. 

    She describes the nation’s politics as both incredibly stable and incredibly volatile, and she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. However, Walter acknowledged that she does feel hopeful because America is an incredibly resilient and optimistic country. 

    She told the urban educators that they give her hope because they are in Washington, D.C., to make their voices heard and to speak up for people who don’t have a voice. 

    “So, continuing to be engaged, telling people why it’s important to stay engaged,” urged Walter. “It matters very, very much in this entire process.”