The election is over!
Columnists, talk-show hosts and other “experts” have declared this for months. They point to the latest poll where former President Donald Trump is maintaining a big lead on the Republican side while no serious Democrats are taking on President Joe Biden.
Thirteen months until Election Day, and most pundits have thrown in the towel.
Not so fast.
A lot will happen between now and 2024
One crazy day can turn the political world upside down, let alone a year-plus of unpredictable news cycles. We don’t even know what the top issue will be when the public hits their polling places.
Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was asked what the most troubling problem of his tenure was. “Events, my dear boy, events,” he replied. A lot will happen before November 2024.
Events aren’t the only reason 2024 remains unsettled: The vast majority of Americans aren’t even paying attention.
Republicans should fear Taylor Swift: Taylor Swift has power to swing the presidential election. What if nothing else matters?
Let’s face it: People who obsessively follow politics are outliers. Oddballs. Weirdos.
The entire pundit class needs to be reminded of this fact before popping off about the latest fight on Capitol Hill, campaign gaffe on social media or survey of 500 New Hampshire shut-ins.
Most voters simply aren't paying attention
“Who are you calling a weirdo, pal?” Well, myself, for one.
As a kid in Phoenix, I had an Arizona Republic paper route. As I prepared to make my rounds, I read the opinion pages every morning (after the sports scores and comics, of course).
Pretty sure I was the only kid at Greenway Middle School with a hot take on personnel changes in the Carter administration. Total weirdo.
I still keep up with the latest news from Washington, maintaining my outlier status among Americans. Most people don’t care about D.C. drama.
Are politicians too old? With McConnell, Biden, US politicians are older than ever. Stop voting for them.
According to a recent Pew Research study, about two-thirds of Americans say they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics. Digging into the details, the public mood grows ever more negative.
Just 4% of U.S. adults say the political system is working extremely or very well, while 63% express not too much or no confidence at all in the future of the U.S. political system.
People hate politics, and for good reason
Trust in the federal government (16%) is among the lowest in seven decades of polling. A growing share hates both political parties. Talking 2024 specifically, about two-thirds of adults are dissatisfied with both candidates on offer.
Voters want someone else in 2024. Why not Nikki Haley?
Aside from the presidential campaign, there has been a downward opinion of all politicians. Just 26% rate the quality of political candidates as very or somewhat good, down about 20 percentage points since 2018.
When asked to describe their feelings about the political system and elected officials in one word, only 2% of respondents used a positive phrase. The top 16 answers were terms such as “divisive,” “corrupt” and one word that can’t be printed in a family news source.
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Let’s face it, most people would rather discuss grandma’s fungal infection than the circus on the Potomac.
For the rest of 2023, Americans will focus on more important things. Cheering on their daughter at the soccer game. Helping Junior with his homework. Checking out the new neighborhood restaurant and updating their résumé for a new job opportunity.
Anything but politics.
As in previous cycles, the majority of the electorate will start paying attention a few weeks before their state primary, then again after the national party conventions.
In a democracy, no election is over until the voters have their say. Even if the smartest political obsessives don’t like it.
Jon Gabriel, a Mesa resident, is editor-in-chief of Ricochet.com and a contributor to The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, where this column first published. Find him on X, formerly Twitter: @exjon
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trump vs. Biden? Election is far from set, even if pundits say it is