Biden, Trump set for US election rematch after clinching nominations
Published: Mar 13, 2024 09:47 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Incumbent US President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump both clinched nominations in their parties on Tuesday and are set to rematch on November 5, per media projections, a scenario to almost no one's surprise.

But polls show American voters are unenthusiastic about a repeat of their matchup, and observers said that nomination of two "unpopular" candidates suggests the election mechanism and US democracy have become rigid and failed to express or address issues of public concern.

Biden needed 1,968 delegates to win the nomination, and he passed that number late Tuesday as results came in from Georgia, Mississippi, Washington state, the Northern Mariana Islands and Democrats living abroad, Reuters reported. 

Biden, 81, issued a statement after he sealed the Democratic nomination, taking aim at what he called Trump's "campaign of resentment, revenge, and retribution that threatens the very idea of America," according to the report. 

Hours later, Trump clinched the 1,215 delegates required to secure the Republican presidential nomination as four states held contests, including Georgia, the battleground where Trump faces criminal charges for his efforts to overturn the state's 2020 results, Reuters reported.  

Trump's campaign also posted a video on X, formerly Twitter, where the 77-year-old former president called Biden "the worst president in the history of country," who must be defeated, CNN reported. 

Such mutual attacks reminded observers of the farcical development of their first matchup in 2020. 

Unlike in 2020 when Biden was favored over Trump for the entirety of the campaign, Biden faces a rougher road this time around, CNN reported. Surveys released last week from The New York Times/Siena College, CBS News/YouGov, Fox News and The Wall Street Journal all gave Trump a higher percentage of the vote than Biden by margins ranging from 2 to 4 points. The incumbent president has no better than a 50-50 shot for reelection, and Trump has a real chance at retaking the White House, according to the CNN report. 

In the past four years, Trump has never been marginalized and the American politics has become more divided and extreme than 2020, therefore observers believe whoever wins the general election will not reverse the trend or revitalize US politics.  

Neither is popular 

Biden-Trump competition is the first presidential rematch since 1956. It's also the first rematch between a current and a former president since 1892, according to US media reports.

Yet voters have expressed little enthusiasm for a repeat of the bitter 2020 election, with Reuters/Ipsos public polls showing that both Biden and Trump are unpopular with the majority of voters, according to Reuters report.  Some 67 percent said they are tired of seeing the same candidates in presidential elections and want someone new. 

"For the majority of the US people, they do not want to see the 81-year-old and the 77-year-old competing for the presidency again. They are tired of the gerontocracy," Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies and research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Trump's myriad criminal charges - 91 felony counts across four separate indictments - could harm his standing among the suburban, well-educated voters, US media analyzed. He is scheduled to become the first former American president to go on trial in a criminal case on March 25 in New York. 

The most serious case against him - the federal indictment in Washington DC, accusing him of plotting to reverse the 2020 election - is on hold after the Supreme Court agreed to hear Trump's immunity claim. 

A possible return of Trump, who vowed more tariffs and isolation foreign policy, will also deal a blow to US allies. 

Biden's main opposition has come from anxiety over his age and health, and in recent months from outrage over the administration's support for Israel during its war in Gaza. Though some economic indexes appear positive, Americans do not attribute that to Biden administration's handling of economic issues, the Financial Times reported.

Biden's State of Union Address last week also failed to translate to higher approval ratings, according to Ipsos.  

"The two-party system in the US has become strange and abnormal, and is stuck in a sluggish state. The issues in the electoral system are a microcosm of American politics," Lü Xiang said.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party can bring fresh blood to the election stage, epitomizing the rigid, stagnant democracy. 

Both candidates have barely met expectations in their performance in regard to domestic affairs and foreign policy, and their rematch shows the electoral mechanism cannot pick up competent, trusted figures to govern the country, Li said.  

Ordinary people's dissatisfaction and concerns are not reflected, not to mention addressed by current system, Li said, adding that US democracy remains only in format and should undergo major amendments to keep functioning.

Profound implication 

Chicago-based columnist Elias Cepeda wrote in an opinion piece in the Global Times that "whoever is chosen by our party superiors and overlords is chosen specifically because they will continue America's uninterrupted streak of violent international adventurism."

Although it's US' internal affairs, the presidential elections are closely watched by the world due to their impact on the global economy and geopolitics.

When asked to comment on the event on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the US election is an internal affair of the US, and China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and does not intervene in it. 

Wang said that developing good relations between China and the US is in the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples, and is also the common expectation of the international community. 

Regardless of who is elected as the next US president, we hope that the US side can meet China halfway, promote the stable, healthy, and sustainable development of China-US relations in accordance with the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation, and better benefit both countries and the world, Wang said. 

Analysts believe that whoever is elected will continue US' competition with China due to its anxiety over waning dominance and eagerness to maintain hegemony, but handling China ties with cautions is not only what a US president should do, but also something he must do, as neither China nor the US and the world can afford such a competition to spin out of control.