Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Anna Davis


Bradley Tusk
4 min readApr 6, 2023


+ this week’s firewall episode

Joe Biden hasn’t officially announced his re-election campaign yet but Donald Trump’s recent indictment ushered in the beginning of the 2024 presidential campaign. The normal laws of political gravity have never applied to Trump so anything involving him is always unique. But even in the age of Trump, the number of permutations that will help decide the next president are staggering. In order to properly analyze the race, here’s everything we have to consider.

Let’s start with what’s normally the baseline criteria for any president running for re-election: how’s the economy and are we at war? Until 2020, no president had ever presided over a strong economy, not been enmeshed in a major war and still lost the election. So while the economy and national security are no longer the only factors impacting the outcome, they’re still very important. From a scale of 1–10, the economy right now feels like a 4. The stock market is stagnant. Inflation isn’t rising but it isn’t meaningfully falling either. Unemployment is still relatively low but the job market is weakening.

For the average voter, if the economy on election day is where it is today, it probably won’t be the deciding factor. But the odds of nothing changing are close to zero and most experts expect things to get somewhere between a little and a lot worse. We’re also not currently in a war with deployed US troops. But Russia’s war against Ukraine still looms large and the possibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan looms even larger. Will the Chinese strike before the election? Probably not. But if they have a preferred candidate, they may decide that a well timed invasion will help that candidate win.

And then there are the handful of other issues that could impact voters, especially because this is the first presidential election in the age of Dobbs (good for the Democrats) and because crime has become a national issue decidedly favoring the Republicans politically.

Now let’s get into legal trouble. The Manhattan district attorney’s indictment of Trump could propel Trump within a Republican primary. But what if the Fulton County district attorney indicts Trump on trying to fix the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia? That gets dicier. Trump could also face federal charges for illegally taking classified documents or for inciting an armed insurrection on January 6. How would that impact GOP primary voters?

Biden has his own potential legal headaches. An indictment of his son Hunter would raise questions about whether Biden was complicit too. And even if Trump’s misuse of classified documents was worse than what Biden is believed to have done, if Trump goes down for this, whether legally or just narratively, Biden could too.

Now let’s turn to health. Biden is 80. What if he’s non compos mentis during the campaign? Would voters choose someone who doesn’t truly seem with it?

What if Biden’s not alive at all? If that happens, Vice President Kamala Harris will argue she should be the presumptive nominee. This puts the Democratic party in a very difficult spot. Based on her performance in the 2020 primary and her low approval ratings today, it’s hard to be optimistic about her chances of success. But not nominating the first female and African American Vice President comes with its own set of risks. Many will argue that if Harris were a white guy, she would have a much easier path to the 2024 nomination. And there’s definitely some truth to that. What if that leads to widespread disapproval among black voters? And what if black turnout is then, say, 10% lower than it was in 2020? In states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, that could be the difference.

The Republicans face the same risk, only far greater. What are the odds that Donald Trump loses the GOP nomination, gracefully accepts the result and strongly supports the nominee? And once Trump says that the election was stolen from him, what’s GOP turnout going to be in the general election? What if 10% of Trump supporters stay home in Arizona, Wisconsin and North Carolina? It’s hard to see the math adding up for the GOP nominee if that happens. The only hope for the GOP candidates is that Trump gets indicted for a federal crime, desperately needs them to win in order to grant him a pardon, and therefore has to be supportive.

Let’s say none of the possibilities above happen. We have a plain, vanilla election. How do we even know that the results certified in each state reflect the actual outcome? GOP state legislators have introduced 150 bills this year alone to restrict ballot access. We know there are GOP election officials who actively supported Trump’s effort in 2020 to overturn the results. Who’s to say they won’t tamper with the outcome this time? And corruption isn’t endemic to just one party either (ask any Democrat who has worked in Chicago, New Jersey or Rhode Island politics, just to name a few of many cities and states that are not always on the up and up).

Indictments. Death. Illness. War. Inflation. Unemployment. Corruption. Ballot tampering. Internecine party warfare. Welcome to the 2024 presidential election. We don’t know what will happen, but we know it certainly won’t be boring.



Bradley Tusk

Venture capitalist, political strategist, philanthropist and writer.