Why I’ve put £1,000 on AOC to win the 2024 Democratic nomination
Two weeks ago, my old boss in government, Dominic Cummings, put out some very interesting analysis on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – 33-year-old congresswoman for New York.
Why it’s in AOC’s interests to run and why this could knock Biden out, like LBJ in 1968
Purely from her own perspective — i.e ignore ‘the good of the world/USA/party’ — AOC should roll the dice. ‘President Biden has been an extraordinary public servant but it’s time for a new generation to fight for democracy, for civil rights, for economic and social justice, to end socialism for the wealthiest while they lobby against support for American families working every day — and to bring America together again after the division of President Trump!’
Third terms are very hard to win. The only example since Truman is Reagan>Bush in 1988… For a DEM to win in 2028 after a Biden 2024 victory would in principle be much tougher than grabbing the nomination in 2024 against Trump, an opponent with unprecedentedly high negatives and obvious weaknesses. 2024 could be the best chance she ever gets.
Washington’s entropy, probably also growing, reinforces this. Obama was smart to run in 2007. These days if you hang around in DC, you’re soon going to look bad and not like a character who can promise ‘change’ which is generally what voters want, given DC is so stuck and can’t deliver what people want.
A young, smart, ruthless, good-looking gifted communicator who would generate global news, huge energy, huge crowds, huge mass fundraising. The old media and elite universities would quiver with excitement and echo all her memes. The contrast would be stark with an old man stumbling around the stage shaking hands with the air, looking lost. Without ever attacking Biden, focusing entirely on Trump, she could make Biden seem weak, even pitiful, maybe doomed.
Axelrod, close to Obama, is saying on TV already that Biden should stand down. The people who understand winning already want to see an open competitive primary contest in 2023.
This caused me to look into the possibility.
- She is old enough (by three weeks, turning 35 in October 2024) to be eligible to run.
- There’s a notable video of her refusing to endorse Biden:
- She is sharp:
- And tough:
- And can control the frame of a discussion as well as anyone I’ve seen:
My friend Charlie Houpert, who had a terrific, prescient video on why Trump would beat Hillary before this seemed at all obvious, noted the importance of this.
From long following the writing of Niall Ferguson, I’ve had a principle drilled into me: never speak of ‘the future’ (singular), always futures (plural) – all conceivable ways events could play out.
To me, it seems close to 50/50 Biden stands down of his own accord (in a way people are yet to articulate).
Two weeks ago he celebrated his 80th birthday, and I don’t think it’s particularly difficult to envisage him making a version of this speech (for 10 seconds) some time in the next year:
Trump is four years younger than Biden, having turned 76 in June.
How this could play out…
- If Biden were to stand down, I think it’s 90%+ likely the Democratic party does not rally around Kamala Harris (as Vice President going on President).
There would be an open primary, and I think it’s +50% likely AOC runs.
In that scenario, (from having watched the above videos) I think she tears through Kamala/Newsom/Warren/Buttigieg et al.
- As Dominic notes, it’s possible to run against an incumbent President even without them having stood down – and into the face of lots of opposition from powers that be inside a party (25 seconds):
(This shortly before RFK’s assassination.)
Gerald Ford was also challenged as sitting President by Ronald Reagan.
- I don’t think the logic of ‘well, AOC wouldn’t win a Presidential election [too far to the left], so the Democratic primary voters wouldn’t pick her’ stands up.
Party members have, on both sides of the Atlantic, for the past many years, not been voting candidates to party leadership based on electability. (Jeremy Corbyn, almost Bernie Sanders, Liz Truss…)
And the U.S. seems sufficiently polarised AOC wouldn’t actually need to soften many of her positions to win the Democratic vote. Primary voters are not rational.
I’m not saying ‘this will happen’
The default of Biden going again and not getting challenged on the Democratic side is (to me) ~50%.
And if he does stand down, there’s potential for a wildcard of Michelle Obama/The Rock/other running, who could conceivably beat AOC.
But I was stunned last week to see odds for AOC – just winning the Democratic nomination – at between 50/1 and 67/1.
Kim Kardashian was given better odds by one bookmaker. (This on 26 November 2022.)
This caused me to put £1,000 on. (From the mixture of odds I managed to get, I stand to get back just shy of £60,000 if AOC were to get the nomination.)
I would have put more on, but by the time I’d put this down, all UK bookmakers (who sync up their odds/are more responsive than I’d realised) lowered their odds to 33/1–40/1 – just low enough I didn’t further my punt.
Do I think AOC could win the 2024 Presidential election?
Probably not. And I’m not putting money there.
This is the first meaningful bet I have put on since being underage, making a non-trivial amount for a 15-year-old in school.
But I agree readily with Dominic: the constellation of forces means there’s a greater than acknowledged chance of her taking the Democratic nomination.