The Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire, has campaign memories of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders.
The Unprecedented 2024 Election Dynamics
Presidential contenders have used this century-old diner for photo opportunities and platform presentations. On a recent Monday morning, the once-spirited mood felt somber, reflecting the presidential campaign’s weak status.
The 2024 election breaks precedent. President Joe Biden did not register for the New Hampshire primary ballot or campaign. At the same time, former President Donald Trump faces legal attempts to exclude him. Despite their significant leads, Biden and Trump have declined debates, reducing competitiveness. As Ron DeSantis campaigns in South Carolina, Nikki Haley is Trump’s only New Hampshire opponent.
“This is the first election in generations where the primary is almost nonexistent on both sides,” says Democratic communications consultant Jared Leopold. With 63% of Americans doubting the democratic system’s future, Biden and Trump are unpopular despite their leads.
Last February, the DNC rescheduled the first Democratic primary to South Carolina. State law required New Hampshire to host the nation’s first primary; thus, it rejected this move. Biden declined to participate. Hence, the New Hampshire primary winner earns no delegates.
The Evolution and Erosion of Primary Elections
Primary elections, once a symbol of democracy, have changed. Progressive Era voting innovations made primary elections public. New Hampshire and Iowa forecasted candidate momentum. Candidate presence and public involvement are low in the 2024 election.
Primary relevance is declining due to American democratic challenges. According to a September Pew Research Center poll, two-thirds of Americans are tired of politics, and over 60% are unhappy with 2024 candidates. Increasing election skepticism and restricted voting laws weaken democracy.
Democracy is threatened by weakening the primary system, which prevents crooked elections. Losing candidate and voter participation in primaries risks pulling the electoral process away from the people, increasing indifference and lack of transparency when democracy needs them most.
The primary process seems outdated as historic eateries like Chez Vachon in Manchester experience declining candidate activity and voter enthusiasm. Past candidates’ faces on the walls now conjure distant memories of when election outcomes were more uncertain, underscoring the necessity of upholding democratic norms and processes despite problems.