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Biden and Trump Both Influenced the Playing Field. Just Examine the Next Few Days

Biden and Trump Both Influenced the Playing Field. Just Examine the Next Few Days
Credits: The Wall Street Journal

Over the past months, Joe Biden and Donald Trump have strategically manipulated their respective party’s presidential nominating processes, setting the stage for a rematch that may not align with the desires of most voters. The upcoming week will reveal the extent of their successful efforts.

The South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday holds significance as the first to award Democratic delegates, a move orchestrated by Biden to place it at the forefront of the Democratic nominating order.

Despite Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota suggesting that Biden will secure 95 percent of the vote, the focus remains on the arcane rules changes and their implications.

Biden and Trump Both Influenced the Playing Field. Just Examine the Next Few Days

Biden and Trump (Credits: Los Angeles Times)

Simultaneously, the Republican caucuses in Nevada on Thursday, tightly controlled by Trump and his allies, witness Nikki Haley not even on the ballot.

Haley is running in the state-run “beauty contest” primary on Tuesday, where no delegates are at stake. Both instances highlight the influence of Biden and Trump in shaping the electoral landscape.

These maneuvers by Biden and Trump have implications beyond their individual campaigns. Changes in rules, often benefiting one candidate, have inadvertently affected the dynamics for others.

For instance, Democrats’ decision to create a Nevada primary allowed Republicans to split the candidate field by holding an insular, Trump-friendly caucus.

The challenges faced by those like Haley and Phillips, who have contested or considered challenging Biden and Trump, showcase how the rules changes, coupled with the transition from Iowa and New Hampshire to Super Tuesday, favor the incumbent figures.

While Biden and Trump would have been favorites in any case, with majorities in their parties expressing support, the rules changes have played a role in insulating them from potential primary challenges.

Despite vulnerabilities in their candidacies, including concerns about Biden’s age and handling of Middle East conflicts or Trump’s legal troubles, the strategic setup minimizes these risks.

The alterations in primary calendars, particularly the elevation of South Carolina for Democrats and changes in Nevada, were initiated to strengthen Biden’s and Trump’s positions.

Democrats aimed to diminish the role of caucuses and address the influence of overwhelmingly white states like Iowa and New Hampshire. On the Republican side, resistance to Democratic influence and concerns about changes in traditions were significant factors.

South Carolina’s pivotal role in Biden’s previous primary victory, particularly among its majority-Black electorate, made it an essential firewall for him.

The absence of partisan registration in the state allows any registered voter to participate in either party’s primary, but they can only choose one. This timing disadvantage could affect Haley’s chances, as anyone voting in the Democratic primary becomes ineligible for the Republican one.

Similarly, changes in Nevada, where Democrats’ creation of a state-run primary inadvertently facilitated a Trump-friendly caucus, highlight the unintended consequences of strategic alterations.

The state’s close ties to Trump influenced decisions favoring the former president and complicating the landscape for other candidates.

The primary calendar’s progression, from Michigan to Super Tuesday, reflects how these maneuvers, consciously or inadvertently, benefit Biden and Trump.

Even in states where alternative candidates might find openings, such as Michigan, rule changes and the strategic positioning of primaries make it challenging for challengers like Haley to mount significant comebacks.

The strategic maneuvers by Biden and Trump, coupled with changes in primary rules, have contributed to a landscape favoring the incumbents.

While these changes were not solely aimed at limiting competition, their effects have created an environment where challenging Biden and Trump becomes increasingly difficult for other candidates, setting the stage for their dominance as the primary season progresses.

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