Today’s SMC is about politics, but it’s not political. So calm down to anyone who wants us to stay away from what has become America’s year round national pastime. I don’t do politics in this space. Sure, every now and again I might take a sarcastic slap at a politician, but I never have, nor will I ever try to force my beliefs on someone. I hate when it’s done to me. I try to play this right down the middle. Don’t impose your politics on me and I promise I won’t do it to you. So, take this for what it’s meant to be: a fun handicapping piece. Nothing more.
For the third straight year we are taking a look at the ‘24 presidential race and candidates. Ed Rogers is our political insider and offers his latest on what might lie ahead 14 months from now on November 5, 2024. We’ve done this twice before on March 7, 2021, and March 20, 2022; both are located in the SMC archives on the main blog page.
Ed knows his stuff, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be right. He’s credentialed but cautions “predictions are for losers.” Don’t I know that from too many visits to the sportsbook? Rogers graduated from the University of Alabama, both undergrad and law. He then headed to DC to begin accumulating a resume stellar with accomplishments. He‘s still is a visiting professor at Alabama’s School of Law.
Rogers, 64, served in the senior Bush White House from 1988-91 as Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff. Prior to that he was in the Reagan White House in the Office of Political Affairs serving as a special assistant to the president as well as deputy director of the Office of Political Affairs. In 1991 Rogers, former Republican National Committee chair Haley Barbour and Lanny Griffith formed the BGR Group becoming an international force in the world of lobbying and influence. Rogers was the Managing Partner of the firm. From 2011-18 he was also an op-ed page columnist for the Washington Post.
And yet with all his honors and accolades, one thing Ed holds very dear is his role as Sunday Morning Coffee’s political handicapper. He is compensated for that as handsomely as I am for being a synagogue president.
We’ve known each other for over 20 years and at one time Rogers was a partner of ours in Medjet (Medjet.com). He is still working for BGR, with a portfolio of clients, and a title of Founding Partner.
I asked the questions, he answered:
SMC: Is there any reason to believe 2024 won’t be a Joe Biden-Donald Trump rematch?
Rogers: It certainly looks that way even though Trump and Biden are widely unpopular. Two of the most unpopular people in America will wind up being our choices. Conventional wisdom says that shouldn’t hold, but there is no evidence to believe this will be anything other than a rematch.
Latest odds at Caesars sportsbook in Canada has Biden as the 6-5 favorite and Trump at 3-1. Do you question those numbers?
No. You have to give an edge to Biden for a number of reasons, mainly we tend to reelect our presidents. Trump was the exception. Trump has done nothing to get new voters. There are very few converts from the last time he ran. He’s lost much more than he’s gained.
Talking about Trump a year ago you said, “I think the (Republican) party is afraid of him. He really doesn’t want any other Republican to win if it isn’t him. His ego says he is just as likely to be a spoiler as an asset. Nobody can ever satisfy his ego sufficiently and that’s a problem the Republicans will have to deal with.” Anything changed?
No, it’s gotten worse. He will not sign a GOP pledge to support the nominee. The party can’t do much. This sounds strange but the only thing Trump has going for him is a lot of Republican voters, but it won’t be enough to win the general election. He has limited congressional support. Everybody fears a downdraft with him at the top of the ticket. Republicans have a lot to offer but are compromised by his unpopularity and toxicity.
A year ago you also said it would be hard for Trump to win a general election. As you put it he has “alienated so many people at the human level.” Still believe that?
Very much so. I saw a poll this week that 64% of likely voters have said they probably will not vote for him. 53% said under no circumstances. This isn’t just a red flashing light on the dashboard— it’s black smoke from under the hood.
Let’s say Trump gets the nomination and loses the general election. Will he go away?
It’s hard to imagine Trump doing anything gracious or anything that would be considered a voluntary departure from the stage.
Interestingly, while Caesars odds say it’s a two man race, the next lowest on the board is California governor Gavin Newsom at 10-1. Do they know something we don’t?
He’s the most formidable, forthright Democratic candidate. He is not hiding his desire to be president, but he won’t challenge Biden. It’s still really early, a lot can happen but Biden would have to be out of the picture for Newsom to openly enter the race. I would definitely put him in front of (Kamala) Harris on electability. She has no foothold at all.
Last year Ron DeSantis was 6-1 and charging. Today he has slipped back to 12-1. Your comment was, “He has the Republican Cinderella slipper in his hand. But there is such a thing in politics as being too early and it might be hard for him to maintain this position and momentum.” Can anything bring him back to being a factor?
Absolutely. The secret to winning primaries is to work hard and get hot at the end. 80% of what will happen in primaries, especially early ones, lies in front of us, not behind us. For DeSantis to emerge it has to be a combination of things. Nobody’s campaign will overcome Trump. It has to be a scenario of illness or some unforeseen interceding event that will shake Trump supporters. It’s not likely but possible. DeSantis won’t build a campaign to overcome him. There has to be some kind of outside occurrence.
RFK Jr. Is 12-1, maybe a little bit lower than I would have guessed. Is there anything to his candidacy?
His campaign will not overwhelm Biden’s. His candidacy is illustrative of lack of enthusiasm for Biden and some of the Democrats are looking for an outsider. Somebody that isn’t a cliche. He instantly has credibly because of his last name.
Last year Pete Buttigieg was 22-1. You said, “I might pick up a little piece of that.” Today he is 200-1. Glad you didn’t?
I’m glad. I still think he is a long term force in the Democratic party.
Vivek Ramaswamy is 25-1. Is he someone to keep an eye on in ‘28?
Yes. He is articulate and thoughtful. He can take on all comers in debates. He is animated and compelling . He has a future on the national stage.
Kamala Harris is 30-1, no surprise. Hard to think she would take any action at all. But the real surprise is Michelle Obama is 25-1. Why?
She scratches the Dems itch for celebrity and diversity. She is widely popular. However, her best day would probably be her announcement day.
Poor Mike Pence. He can’t seem to swat that fly out of his hair. He’s 60-1.
He doesn’t have a particular constituency in party. Trump followers really believe he could have righted a wrong and will never gain any mainstream momentum. Inside the Republican Party he has a lot of respect but not with the voting public. It’s funny but I believe in a blind congressional ballot, Republicans would favor Pence over Trump but in public they are afraid. Nice guy, nice family and religious beliefs, but he’s not going anywhere.
Other than Trump, DeSantis and maybe Ramaswamy, nobody else on the Republican side is tracking. Chris Christie is 200-1, the same longshot odds as Rick Scott, Ivanka Trump and believe it or not Tucker Carlson. You said a year ago that Christie has a formidable presence in the GOP and probably the best candidate skills in the party. Why can’t he connect?
He might. 80% of what matters still lies in front of us, not behind.
Biden gets the nomination. Is Kamala on the ticket?
Yes. Historically there is very little reason for the ticket to change vice presidents. The Democrats know they have a problem with her, but a VP doesn’t drive any votes or drive any away. We have to keep relearning that.
With that in mind Trump gets the nomination. Last year you said Nikki Haley would most likely be in the second spot. Is she still viable in that role and in Trump’s mind?
She is. I think there is an 80% chance the VP nominee will be a women. If not it will be a minority like Tim Scott. Haley has to do a better job of improving her campaign skills. She hasn’t developed or relied on her ancestry which is a remarkable American story. A sleeper might be (Iowa senator) Joni Ernst, she’s very formidable and has not alienated Trump supporters. She’s taken very seriously by her colleagues in the Senate.
What should we be looking for in Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate and will Trump be there?
I don’t think he will. If I were advising him I don’t see any upside in him participating. I’d keep an eye on the candidate who gives the most articulate and authentic presentation. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint and still a long way to go.
Jump ahead four years. Who’s auditioning for the favorites’ role in ‘28 on both sides?
I actually think we are going to be in good shape in each party. Relative to what we are seeing now there is a lot of youth and attractive candidates. For the Republicans there’s Scott, DeSantis, maybe Ted Cruz, Ernst and (Iowa) Governor Kim Reynolds. For the Democrats Newsom is formidable, I believe Buttigieg is calculating a run and Kamala will not bow out. It will be very interesting.
The past two years, with the mythical Sunday Morning Coffee $100 bankroll you played Biden both times in the futures market. Here’s another hundred. Who’s the play 14 months out?
It’s still Biden. But for fun take some Tim Scott action at 35-1. There’s value there.
This is the third time we’ve done this. You keep telling me “Predictions are for losers; they always have been and always will be.” Having said that, the most important question— how will Alabama football do this season?
I think they’ll win the national championship. After the last couple of years they have something to prove. I’ve been in the prediction business for the last 40 years and it’s horrible. Knowing that and picking ‘Bama, it probably means Georgia will win again.
In other words, with years of pundit experience, Rogers knows in football, politics and life, the only certainty is uncertainty. That you can bet on.