Barry McNamara  |  Published December 11, 2023

Is the 2024 Election Cake Baked?

Monmouth’s Robin Johnson analyzes ’24 presidential race, which kicks off Jan. 15 in Iowa.

IT'LL BE HERE SOON: The 2024 presidential election will kick into high gear next month when the Republican Party holds ... IT'LL BE HERE SOON: The 2024 presidential election will kick into high gear next month when the Republican Party holds its caucuses in Iowa.MONMOUTH, Ill. – “The cake is baked.”

That was the headline-making declaration last week by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, referring to former President Donald Trump’s status as a shoo-in to receive his party’s nomination in the 2024 election.

Monmouth College political science faculty member Robin Johnson, who hosts the Heartland Politics weekly radio show on WVIK-FM, was asked if that was indeed the case – and if it’s also a foregone conclusion that the political primary season will lead to a Trump-President Joe Biden rematch in 11 months.


Trouble in River City?

“The first sign of any potential Trump weakness will be in Iowa,” said Johnson, referring to that state’s caucuses on Jan. 15.

The Democrats have changed their primary calendar, now opening with South Carolina on Feb. 3, but the Republicans kept the Hawkeye State in its longtime opening position. Members of Monmouth College’s political science department will once again take a busload of students and faculty to observe a caucus in Burlington, Iowa.

“The Republican caucus will be the first test of whether any of the candidates remaining can compete with Donald Trump. Ron DeSantis is positioned to tighten, and possibly win, Iowa. He has visited all 99 counties – a ‘full Grassley.’” – Robin Johnson

According to a major poll released on Monday, the former president remains firmly in the driver’s seat. Trump has 51% first-choice support, according to an NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll. That’s up from 43% in the same poll conducted in October.

“The Republican caucus will be the first test of whether any of the candidates remaining can compete with Donald Trump,” said Johnson. “(Florida Gov.) Ron DeSantis is positioned to tighten, and possibly win, Iowa. He has visited all 99 counties – a ‘full Grassley’ – has the backing of the state’s major evangelical group and has the best field operation among the candidates.”

Johnson’s comment references Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s practice of holding public meetings in all of Iowa’s 99 counties each year since first taking office in 1981.

“Especially if other candidates continue to drop out, DeSantis is poised to make the race closer than current polls suggest and possibly pull off an upset,” said Johnson. “A strong showing in Iowa could position him as the major alternative to Trump and force other candidates from the race sooner.”

A primary foe for Biden?

Meanwhile, the GOP nominee is almost certain to run against Biden.

“The Democrats are running out of time to field an alternative,” said Johnson. “The polls and pundits still overwhelmingly see a Biden-Trump rematch, but we’ll see what the people have to say about it once the voting starts.”

“There’s a decent chance of the popular vote winner once again losing the electoral college vote. I see the election once again coming down to seven or eight states and razor-thin margins.” – Robin Johnson


A reason that Democrats are seeking that alternative, said Johnson, is a recent Wall Street Journal poll.

“It showed Biden at a new low in terms of his job performance, yet he was still tied with Trump,” said Johnson. “Third party candidates could pull voters from both candidates and add another element of uncertainty. Biden needs to firm up support among several key subgroups, especially young voters.”

While a DeSantis victory in Iowa could alter the political landscape slightly, a major disruption could still occur in the months ahead, Johnson said.

“A guilty verdict on one of the trials facing Trump could throw the country into uncharted territory,” he said. “Add to that the chance of a global incident and we’re in for a tumultuous political year. There’s a decent chance of the popular vote winner once again losing the electoral college vote. I see the election once again coming down to seven or eight states and razor-thin margins.”

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/academics/only-at-monmouth/educational-garden-farm/" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthscots.com/" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/offices/global-engagement/" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p><strong>Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Pi Beta Phi, the first such collegiate women’s organization, was founded at Monmouth in 1867. It was followed three years later by Kappa Kappa Gamma. The two pioneering organizations today boast a total of 275 active chapters nationwide.</strong></p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Preparation</a></li></ul></div></aside>