washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Longest General Election Ever Begins

One phase of the 2024 presidential campaign came to an end while another very long one began, as I noted at New York:

Without a great deal of fanfare, Joe Biden and Donald Trump each clinched their parties’ presidential nominations in the March 12 caucuses and primaries. This sets up what is officially the longest general-election campaign ever, a 238-day marathon (2000 and 2004 were a day shorter) that will seem even longer because it’s a rematch between two universally known presidents.

Biden and Trump became “putative” nominees a week earlier when their last intraparty opponents, Dean Phillips and Nikki Haley, respectively, dropped out of contention. At this point, they are “presumptive” nominees pending the formal designation made at their national conventions (July 15-18 in Milwaukee for Republicans, August 19-22 in Chicago for Democrats). Biden has won 2,107 of the 2,130 Democratic delegates allocated so far (1,968 were needed for the nomination) with “uncommitted” running second with 20. Trump has won 1,241 of the 1,347 Republican delegates allocated to date (1,215 were needed for the nomination) with Nikki Haley second at 94.

The final day of the two nominating contests was a bit short on drama. Hawaii’s Democrats gave seven of 22 delegates to “uncommitted” after 29 percent of caucusgoers opted to make that gesture aimed at pushing Biden to support a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. But in Washington state, where a stronger protest vote had been expected, only 7.5 percent of primary voters went “uncommitted” (with 79 percent of ballots counted) and Biden was winning all 92 delegates at stake.

Former candidate Haley managed double-digit showings in two March 12 primaries in Georgia (13 percent) and Washington (22 percent), though keep in mind that both states allowed Democrats and independents to participate in the GOP contest and many of the votes were cast early, before Haley suspended her candidacy.

Because there have been rumblings in both parties about a hypothetical convention revolt against the presumptive nominee (Biden owing to electability jitters and Trump due to his legal problems), it’s worth noting that Trump’s delegates are “bound” to him by party rules (and can be liberated only by a candidate withdrawal or a two-thirds convention vote), while Biden’s are his strictly as a matter of moral obligation. Both conventions will, however, be totally wired by the campaigns of the two nominees. By the time these summer coronations roll around, Biden and Trump will be two of the most thoroughly known quantities in American political history.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.