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Who is the 'chaos candidate' in the 2024 US presidential election?

Published 25/05/2024, 09:32
© Reuters.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020 was based on a promise to restore normalcy following the chaotic Trump years.

As the 2024 U.S. presidential election approaches, the question of who the 'chaos candidate' might be is emerging as a growing concern, analysts at Piper Sandler said in a Thursday note.

Former President Donald Trump remains a contentious figure. Despite his legal troubles, Trump still commands a significant following, and polls indicate that he is no longer the undisputed chaos candidate.

Meanwhile, voter perceptions of President Biden’s age and capabilities are another crucial factor. A Harvard-Harris poll highlighted that 59% of voters believe Biden’s "age, failing memory or lapsed concentration" make reelecting him "potentially dangerous for the country."

Moreover, 63% believe Biden’s public lapses are becoming more frequent, raising concerns about his ability to complete a second term without a disruptive transition due to health issues.

There is widespread belief among voters that Biden is not significantly better than Trump when it comes to ethical or legal matters. Although voters narrowly believe Trump is guilty of crimes, they also suspect the charges are politically motivated.

Meanwhile, Hunter Biden’s impending trial and allegations involving Joe Biden in his son’s business dealings further complicate the ethical landscape for the President.

Polls show that voters trust Trump over Biden to handle major challenges facing the country, from international chaos to domestic issues like inflation, which has made everyday life more difficult for many Americans.

“There is chaos around the world, on our southern border, and on our college campuses – and by big margins voters trust Trump over Biden to deal with nearly all the big challenges facing the country,” analysts at Piper Sandler wrote.

“The inflation spike may not fit under a narrow definition of chaos, but it’s made making ends meet much more difficult on a day-to-day basis for average voters, it’s the biggest issue for them, and they place a big chunk of the blame squarely on Biden,” they added.

The perception of both candidates is a mix of distrust and concern, making it difficult to pin down a single 'chaos candidate.' However, the looming trials and ongoing ethical questions surrounding both Biden and Trump imply that chaos could stem from either side, depending on how these issues unfold.

Perhaps most significantly, Biden’s standing on the issue of protecting democracy, which Democrats aim to make central to their campaign, is not as strong as they might hope. In key swing states, Biden and Trump are nearly tied on this issue, indicating a lack of clear advantage for the incumbent.

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