For months, national polls have made one point very clear: Most Americans do not want a rerun of the 2020 presidential election, pitting Democratic President Joe Biden against the Republican incumbent he defeated, Donald Trump.
But with less than a week until the 2024 election season officially starts, Biden and Trump appear to be well-positioned to repeat as their parties’ nominees. This year’s presidential race will kick off with the Republican caucuses in Iowa, where Trump is the overwhelming favorite, followed eight days later by the nation’s first presidential primary, in New Hampshire.
Many observers and scholars believe the 2024 election could push the nation’s democracy dangerously close to the breaking point. They see a deeply polarized electorate, the result of a range of political, economic and social factors.
Among Rochester Beacon readers who took part in a survey this week, Biden enjoys strong support, though some say they back him because he is the only real alternative to Trump. Asked who they support among more than a dozen declared presidential candidates, Biden was named by 69 percent. Nikki Haley, the Republican former governor of South Carolina and United Nations ambassador under Trump, was favored by 12 percent, double the support for her onetime boss. Chris Christie, who ended his presidential campaign Wednesday (after the survey was completed), and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. each were supported by 3 percent.
“If Trump is elected, we will become an autocracy. Democracy is at stake in this election,” wrote Seth Oser.
Richard Byers agrees. “As a Republican I feel my voice has been taken away by MAGA republicans,” he wrote.
Kathleen Cloonan “would like to see a bipartisan ticket as was proposed a while back by the No Labels & Unity parties. Currently, I do not feel comfortable supporting either Trump (too divisive & egocentric) or Biden (too old)…”
While he thinks that Biden should step aside for a younger Democratic candidate, Jeff Linn believes “the Trump alternative is frightening. He is a con man and bully, and those may be his best traits. I will vote Biden to ensure our Republic survives.”
Another measure of Beacon readers’ opposition to Trump: seven in 10 want him disqualified from running again.
Colorado and Maine have removed Trump from their primary ballots for allegedly engaging in insurrection after the 2020 election. Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Trump’s appeal of the Colorado ruling. The justices, who are slated to hear arguments Feb. 8, will weigh whether Trump’s actions to prevent Biden from taking office are covered by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which disqualifies individuals who have “engaged in insurrection” from holding political office.
Ted Pawlicki was among the minority who oppose removing Trump from the ballot. He wrote: “Everyone knows that the Democrats are abusing the justice system trying to keep Trump off the ballot. This is reprehensible.”
The extreme divisiveness that has marked U.S. politics since the 2016 presidential campaign continues to worry many Americans. Asked whether they are concerned about polarization in U.S. politics, 99 percent of those taking part in the Beacon reader survey said they were—and 85 percent described themselves as “very concerned.” Those percentages are little changed, but slightly higher, than the results of a Beacon poll conducted right after the 2020 election.
As before, the respondents to this week’s Beacon reader survey are more Democratic than registered voters overall in Monroe County. Asked about their political affiliation, 61 percent responded Democrat versus 15 percent Republican; unaffiliated and other parties accounted for 24 percent.
By contrast, the breakdown in the Monroe County Board of Elections’ official fall 2023 enrollment was Democrat, 42 percent; Republican, 26 percent; and unaffiliated/other parties, 33 percent.
In the 2020 election, Biden received 59 percent of the votes in Monroe County, compared with 38 percent for Trump.
Nearly 290 readers took part in this week’s Beacon survey, which was conducted Tuesday. The following are the complete signed written comments of survey participants. Many additional unsigned responses were submitted. As a matter of policy, the Beacon does not post unsigned comments.
Readers’ thoughts on the 2024 presidential election:
I am completely pessimistic about the 2024 election. I truly believe that whoever the Democratic candidate will be will win the popular vote by a significant margin. The racist and antiquated Electoral College, however, will result in the Republican candidate winning because those “swing” states with Republican legislatures have enacted voter suppression laws and gerrymandered districts. While we once could rely on the Supreme Court to rectify these anti-democratic practices, that is no longer the case. The Supreme Court now has a majority of corrupt, morally and ethically bankrupt judges. This country is completely doomed.
What concerns me the most is that I have lost touch with many others in America about why they support Trump. I see the issue with Trump as transcending politics since it is an issue of morality and ethics. I truly cannot understand how others in this country can support someone who lacks the character we have always insisted on in a leader of this country, especially when there are other candidates who have similar political views who have not demonstrated Trump’s lack of character.
The purpose of government is to serve the greater good, guided by the Constitution and rule of law. The U.S. was established to be the enlightened opposite of a monarchy or totalitarian state. Let’s stay the course set by our founders and build a country that earns the respect of most of the world.
I cannot believe we are doing a repeat of the last election and that our country is more polarized than ever.
Joe Biden, although he is not a media rock star, he’s done amazingly good things during his tenure. I do not want to see a single party in this country. I still hold out hope that most people will see through the Republican party front-runner and punish the Republican party up-and-down the ballot. Unfortunately, the support for the Republican party front-runner reflects the sad state of education in the United States. In the effect of right wing media propaganda to distort reality for many people.
Our leading candidates are a concern to me. As they say, “where there is smoke there is fire” I believe applies to Trump, he just can’t be trusted. President Biden is smart, politically aware and a honorable man, unfortunately his age is a concern. Bottom line I cannot vote for Trump, I will vote for Biden, unless someone with Biden’s qualities and younger appears on the stage. Peace and courage.
A country founded on great principles like ours should be able to find persons of character and ability to work together and lead it. The two currently leading candidates of the two major parties do not have those qualities.
Democrats are governing. Republicans are whining. I’m not voting for people who favor treason, which appears to be every Republican candidate. Joe Biden has done the job and deserves our vote.
If Trump is elected, we will become an autocracy. Democracy is at stake in this election.
I don’t fully understand why Joe Biden does not have more support. It seems to me that he has accomplished a great deal under stiff opposition. It is very disturbing that Donald Trump has so much support in this country.
—Mary Lou Wilson
Biden has enough delegates to assure his renomination. After the primaries he announces the release of his delegates recommending an open convention. While I would personally prefer Kamala Harris, I think a more likely outcome would be Whitmer-Booker. Who knows?
Trump did enough damage the first time.
I would like to see a bipartisan ticket as was proposed a while back by the No Labels & Unity parties. Currently, I do not feel comfortable supporting either Trump (too divisive & egocentric) or Biden (too old), but a ticket with a combination of a Republican, Democrat, and/or Independent candidate would be more palatable.
I recently heard that the issue is not Trump but is a Republican issue. As a Republican I feel my voice has been taken away by MAGA republicans. Trump supporters view this as a war against Democrats. I want to see Americans with differing views coming together to solve some complex issues but instead we have infighting.
Given the polarization, it will be a tough and angry Presidential race. I think Biden will be re-elected.
Not a quality candidate there.
—Neil R. Scheier MD
Third party or multi-party candidates are spoilers that cannot win in our two-party system. See Teddy Roosevelt, one of our most popular Presidents. He ran as the candidate of a real Progressive Party and was designated their candidate at their convention. “Bull Moose” was an invention of the press after a flesh wound while TR was giving a speech. There was no Bull Moose party. TR came in second over the Republican, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected. In the history of third parties only TR achieved second place. If the popular and former president, Teddy Roosevelt, could not win, lesser political figures have no chance, other than to stop the candidate with the most votes, and putting an election into the House of Representatives. Our two-party system, where most resources are, often requires voting for the lesser evil of two candidates. To move one of the parties to the right or left is only done successfully via primaries. That it just reality borne out by history.
Though I believe Trump fomented the insurrection, he has not yet been convicted and so remains eligible to run for office. That said, if and when he is convicted of insurrection, he should be removed from ballots.
Although there are arguments that removing a popular candidate from the ballot is undemocratic, we cannot continue to ignore the unprofessionalism, polarizing nature, and autocratic leanings of one certain Republican candidate. The baseline standard of American politics has been shoved so far down because of this person and we all deserve better options in our presidential candidates as citizens. We’re being pigeonholed further into this bipartisan system because of all of this political party drama. At the end of the day, this should not be a decision between Biden or Trump, but unfortunately that’s what it’s likely to boil down to again.
This might be the year that we fail to keep a Republic as Franklin put it. Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people. Churchill said we will finally do the right thing after we have tried everything else and was he spot on. Our current abysmal state of affairs shows that the great experiment is at the Rubicon. Now is truly the time for all good men to come to the aid of the country. Where is Thomas Paine when you need him?
While Sec. 3 of the 14th. Amendment is silent on the question of who has authority to determine that an individual has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion … or given aid or comfort to the enemies” of the United States, it does make clear that any such determination, which automatically covers both federal and state offices, can be overridden by a 2/3 vote of Congress. This strongly implies that only the federal government has the authority to bar an individual from office under the Amendment. Though the question of which branch of the federal government possesses that authority remains unclear. Accordingly, while Question 2should be answered with a resounding YES, I don’t believe that the issue before the Supreme Court at this time is whether Trump should or shouldn’t be on the 2024 ballot, but rather whether a state has the authority to make such a determination. I anticipate that the Court will rule that neither Colorado, nor Maine nor any other state has such authority. They will then proceed to remain silent on whether Trump should in fact be disqualified from office on a national basis.
—Michael J. Nighan
Besides President Biden’s legislative successes, he has brought normalcy, decency and rationality back to the executive office. Trump is telling us what kind of president he would be the next time. He will make changes to Schedule F, he will seek retribution to those who disagree with him, he admires autocracies and dictators and promises to be a dictator for his first day in office. There are many issues I don’t agree with Trump on – the environment, women’s reproductive health care, support for Ukraine to name a few. However, the biggest threat a second Trump presidency will be the loss of our democracy. A vote that is not for President Biden is a vote for Trump and the end of democracy in the United States.
Let me begin by asking a question….with over 300 million citizens in these United States of America, the best we can do is what we have? Our current Commander in Chief is a feckless leader. I could list all the lies, the economy, the politization of the courts, the Justice Department, the FBI, etc. but the Afghanistan withdrawal, for me, was and remains a military and human disaster. We lost 13 of our finest, hundreds of civilians dead, billions in equipment left behind, citizens and those promised citizenship left behind. Many of those interpreters were butchered in the most creative ways. Some are still trying to get out of their hell hole. We have a major recruiting problem today because the government trust factor has dissipated. That trust factor decline has also affected us internationally. That historical military disaster was, …singularly, … a Joe Biden decision. The Chief of Staff advised against it. He owns it, period. Did I mention the border? So … where do we go from here. I believe that Nikki Haley would be my choice at the moment, followed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Nikki Haley has valuable international experience. She has also proven herself nationally. Robert Kennedy is solid when it comes to common sense. At the moment common sense is absent. Notice no mention of the apparent Republican front runner, Donald Trump. Donald Trump is and has been wronged in so many ways. We point to election fraud overseas, but we have plenty of political shenanigans of our own. The Democrats are scared to death of seeing him on the ticket. In the process of trying to dump Trump they are making fools of themselves and abusing the legal system. The 2024 election is critical to our Republic. Make no mistake about it, the world (especially our enemies) is watching. Will the U.S.A. falter or rebound from its current political position nationally and internally. Will the upcoming election revive our nation or will we further our downward trend toward demise. SEMPER FI.
—Josh Jochem Porte
We are in uncharted territory. While I agree with others that Biden should step down for a younger candidate, the Trump alternative is frightening. He is a con man and bully, and those may be his best traits. I will vote Biden to ensure our Republic survives.
President Biden ran in 2020 as an established, experienced, center-left candidate who help the country move on from a chaotic presidency. I supported him then, and he has governed as I expected, with some effort to confront serious problems facing the country, in health care, civil rights, and climate change. He has weathered the inflation issue fairly well, and shows an above-average willingness to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done. I am not worried about his age. If something happened, Vice President Harris has had four years to learn, and will inherit an experienced administration. She’d be fine in continuing the Biden Presidency until the next election.
My hope is that the court cases facing Trump are held and decisions reached that will disqualify him for running. The delays in bringing him to justice only aid his candidacy.
I list as Democrat to be able to vote in the primaries but for any race I am committed to voting for the person who seems most likely to move our country forward in what I consider a positive direction. That usually is a Democrat. While I will vote for Biden and work for his election, I am deeply disturbed that we do not have a younger, highly talented and electable candidate instead of him for one of the most challenging and important positions in the world. As a 77-year-old who is still very active and capable, I see the changes/declines in my own capacity over time and think we need a younger person in the job. I can’t believe there is no other strong candidate who will rally voters, and am concerned that President Biden’s insistence on running will have similar effects as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (and other aging politicians on both sides of the party divide) insisting on staying in office too long, with serious harmful impacts for our country.
I wish that we had younger, more people-focused candidates who had the ability to unite the country rather than continue to fracture it.
Trump’s attempts to divide the country should not be allowed. Politicians have always lied, but he has brought it to a new level. I am also concerned about outside interference with our elections. Intimidation of poll workers should be subject to felony penalties.
There are only two choices for President in 2024: Biden and Trump. Anyone who stays home, or does not vote for Biden, is supporting Trump for president.
Simply, this election is about the survival of Democracy and human decency, not just in the U.S. but around the world.
The 2024 election will represent a critical point in our democracy, the outcome of which will have a major impact on our future.
—Stephen L. Gaudioso
I understood that politics is ultimately about the art of compromise especially in a republic. Sadly that seems to have been lost in the present moment where politics is practiced as winner takes all. Donald Trump’s failure to act once people entered the Capitol is for me the ultimate example of why things must change. Regardless of his point of view, by his oath of office he ought to have acted to secure the space. I want leaders who will value their oath over politics, duty over their desire and their word over their personal choices.
—Patrick B Fox
Leftist Democrat party has fundamentally transformed the USA into a Totalitarian Dictatorship under the O’Biden regime in total disregard for the Republic’s Constitution, which they took an oath protect and preserve. Treasonous.
—Luis R. Zamot
I’ve voted both Republican and Democrat over the years, up and down the ballot. Given the events over the last several years, my ability to ever vote for a Republican has evaporated. Led by Trump, who has made a career out of lying, name calling and most recently democracy killing, the number of Republicans who have supported him by either loudly aligning with him or silently accepting his actions is just mind boggling. While the Democrats are not perfect, the Republicans have taken it to an unforgivable level.
Quite honestly, if Biden is not elected, I fear that it will be the last election we have. We will have completed the slide into fascism and our democracy will be over.
This could be the year that ends the U.S. as a democracy if Trump or someone like him get selected. This election isn’t about party affiliation or policies; it’s about preserving the Constitution and the rights we take for granted.
It is a terrible mess. There is no real leadership or integrity or concern for our country among the majority of the current elected national officials. The only real concern shown by the majority of current national elected officials is for their re-election. The only time they say what they really think is when they are on their way out of office.
Everyone knows that the Democrats are abusing the justice system trying to keep Trump off the ballot. This is reprehensible.
I am a conservative Democrat, and I am very disappointed in the choices that we have for the upcoming election.
It’s sad that Trump has such a strong hold on the Republican party. Too many are afraid to speak the truth. The hypocrisy and childishness of our elected officials is mind boggling. All of a sudden as “Payback” everyone is being subjected to threats of impeachment.
Entire system, including Electoral College, needs a major overhaul.
Biden will not be the Democrat candidate in 2024. Should be an interesting summer prior to the convention!
—Paul R. Boehm
We are at a moment when political gain trumps effective government through consensus and compromise. This year’s presidential and down-ticket election races will confirm this focus on “anyone but him/her/them” politics. Some of it is fueled by the drift away from fact and toward emotion. Some of it is encouraged by Donald Trump’s constant lying, gaslighting and name calling. Buy he’s not alone in culpability.
Our U.S. system of governance has, for the most part, always been noticeably corrupt, but our rule of law has served to significantly limit the extent of corruption. Unfortunately, along with the growth of direct corruption over the past half century, there’s also been a slow but steady degradation of our rule of law during this same period, both with respect to the state and execution of law itself, but also with respect to our citizenry’s propensity to actually abide by our rule of law. In my view, this double whammy is a serious problem that is not very often the focus of public discourse, which makes it all the more dangerous.
—Mike Rudnick, PhD
I’m looking for stability, integrity, courage, accountability, RESPECT for the laws of the land (without exceptions), vision, truthfulness and someone who understands what this country needs and prioritizing those needs. Someone who can mediate and handle all political affiliations to focus on what’s best for the people of the United States of America and not patronizing lobbyists, foreign governments because of their wealth, or others who have self-interest that doesn’t benefit the many but the very few. MY LIFE depends on someone fulfilling the highest office in the land, by putting his and/or her trust in GOD to make the right decisions that ensurs a better life for all Americans!
—Sandra J. Simon
It’s going to be ugly. I’m an election worker and I’m a bit concerned. The MAGAs are deep in their cult and the rest of us just have to keep our heads and make sure everyone votes.
At this point in our lives and Country, we need President Trump to finish what he started prior to 2020. We also need God in our Nation more now than ever before. Without Him, our Nation will suffer and will affect my children and their children and more. God Help Us !!!
We need to get behind Joe Biden quickly.
—Dr Lisa Barr
I’m becoming more fearful that our elections will be filled with hostility, attempts at subverting the democratic process and voters (and candidates) who will not accept the outcome as legitimate.
This will be the most divisive election in history. I think we’re heading to a Second Civil War. I think that explains it in a nutshell.
—Pastor Robert K Hoggard
The decision on Trump’s eligibility to be on the ballot seems a no-win situation. Either he’s found eligible and we run the significant risk of his re-election, as unfathomable as that once seemed, or he’s found ineligible and the polarization accelerates to more widespread lack of faith in our system, violence and possible civil war. Two undesirable outcomes, a lose-lose.
I want Mr. Trump to win. The country did better, we did better. He was a strong leader. Other countries respected him.
Our country is at a dangerous crossroads. I fear that there is no way back from the deep division we are facing as a nation. Quite frankly, I fear for every aspect of our lives if we cannot find some ways to bridge the current political divide. Never have I witnessed such hate and vitriol. Not only is our future uncertain, it is most certainly on the precipice of something sinister. We have lost our tolerance for the “other side/sides.” As a person who lives in faith, I am finding it harder and harder to hold on to my beliefs and not despair. I want to believe that we are good people, living in a good country. I want good to prevail over evil, and kindness to lead us out of darkness. What will our children’s lives be like if our society is unable to maintain the Rule of Law and learn to live with respect for others, respect for ourselves, and with civility and dignity? Our current state of affairs is far from what I thought the United States would be like in 2024. It’s heartbreakingly sad to see America slide into chaos. My only hope is that hope springs eternal.
—Adele M. Fico
Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].