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America’s Crisis of Maturity

America’s Crisis of Maturity:
 Democracy or Autocracy ?

The coming US Presidential election should provide a critical test of American democracy. It may be thought of as a national crisis of maturity.

The US  has always been challenged by a long heritage of right-wing threats, from the Civil War, Ku Klux Klan, and the John Birch Society. So, we have been here before — and survived. This time, however, polls show a slight edge favoring Trump, so this is an open question. Can Americans overcome their tendency toward isolationism, white nationalism, and stark conservatism — or will we reaffirm the heritage of law, the constitution, and democratic values ?
Yes, many take comfort in thinking “America’s not going to elect Trump” — but that’s what everybody said in 2016 ! The issue was noted in stark terms by Masha Gessen in Surviving Autocracy:  “You get Trump once, it’s a misfortune. You get him twice, it’s normal. It’s what this country is.”
TechCast accurately forecast the election of Biden in 2020, and we feel confident of doing the same for 2024.

Background Information:
Trends, Issues and other Forces Defining the Election 

Time of Crisis   Climate doom, multiple wars, loss of good jobs, technology threats like AI, mass migration, race and identify conflicts … you name it … modern life is in an existential crisis. During crisis, people become desperate, selfish, immediate. They are prone to embrace drastic measures … like empowering strongmen.
Strong Economy   The state of the economy tends to be a key factor in presidential elections, and indicators suggest the US economy is healthy. GDP growth was 4.3 % in the third quarter of 2023, with unemployment at 3.7 % and real incomes rising 2.7 %. Inflation has declined from 7% to about 3%; still above the preferred 2% level but far better than other nations.
Biden Gains   President Biden has succeeded in returning a sense of normalcy, In contrast to “the other guy,” and he passed bills on infrastructure, inflation, and climate.  He can also be credited by forming an effective alliance to support Ukraine’s defenses again Russia. These are solid gains.
Biden Losses  Despite the strong economy, Americans rate Biden lower than Trump in battleground states on economy, inflation and immigration. It’s not that Trump is riding high but that Biden’s ratings are the lowest for any president since polling began in 1940. This may be due to the fact that key prices and interest rates remain high by normal standards, and the president is showing his age as an octogenarian. If Biden should experience a senior moment, like Mitch McConnell did, it could all be over.
Trump Trials  With 4 trials and 90-some charges underway, at least a few of them are bound to stick. Sure, Trump plays the victim game to advantage, but a dozen states are trying to remove him from their ballots — advertising the charge of promoting an insurrection.
Border Mania   It may not be fair, but Biden and the Democrats are being charged with “open border mania.” The fallout of thousands crossing the Southern border daily was highlighted when Senator Lindsey Graham said, “It’s not a crisis – it’s chaos.”
Anti-Wokism   Liberals may be doing right by advocating against racism, gender bias, climate change – but they’ve overdone it by playing into the hands of the GOP. The result has tarred Democrats with such baggage that “woke” has become a pejorative. The Atlantic recently cautioned “The Left Can’t Afford to go Bonkers.” After all, who really wants to “defund the police” ?

Voter Suppression  The GOP has mastered the art of gerrymandering, reducing voting access, and placing partisans in control of the electoral process. Comedian Bill Maher thinks the actual tabulated votes will be overruled by state officials loyal to Trump. He thinks the actual voting is almost irrelevant. 

Independents Rule   Almost half of American do not belong to either Republican or Democratic parties, but are independent of party affiliations. They may not support Biden, but independents are also free of the blind devotion to the “other guy.”


Analysis and  Conclusions

We are grateful for the following TechCast Experts who contributed estimates and comments: Victor Motti, Prabir Bachi, Jacques Malan, Carlos Scheel, Clayton Dean, John Coale, Michael Richards, Owen Davies, Clayton Rawlings, John LaPrise, Steve Hausman, Alex Bennet, Art Murray, Gerry Stoopman, Kent Myers, Steve DuPont, Flynn Bucy, Ian Browde, Kastuv Ray, Chris Jones, John Meagher, John-Clark Levin, David Gurteen, Michael Vidikan, David Zalkind, Pierpaolo Dotoli, Paul Haase, Linda McDonald Glenn, Dennis Bushnell, Denis Cioffi.

The results of our study announce the good news is that we can forecast that Biden will beat Trump. It gets even better. During their previous match up in 2020, our forecast for a Biden win was based on a 6 % spread in probability … that spread has now grown to 12 %. 

Results on the polarization of society and the rise of autocracy are not as comforting.  We estimate a 50 % probability that the US will continue to be polarized and a 53 % probability that the world as a whole will remain polarized. The data also suggests only a modest 31 % probability that the rise of autocrats will diminish. 

The sample of 32 for this study is largely made up of our TechCast experts. Although our experts are thought leaders, they have no monopoly on truth, and a lot could change before elections in November. Still, I think this study confirms our earlier forecasts of “Peak Trump” with confidence. Kindly look over the results below for details. You will really enjoy the comments for their rich insights.

The wisdom running through the comments also suggests four intriguing wild cards that could play to disrupt these forecasts:

Nikki Haley Wins     With Trump showing increasingly erratic behavior (confusing Haley with Nancy Pelosi, etc.) and felony convictions from some of his 91 indictments, there is a reasonable chance that Haley could replace him as the GOP nominee. Polls show Haley leading Biden by double digits, so you do the math.

Gavin Newsom Wins    President Biden’s age problem is obvious and it could easily impair him fatally before November, while Governor Newsom is waiting in the wings. Vice President Kamala Harris is a formidable  politician, but she is considered unelectable for some reason. Yes, a switch the Newsom seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened in normal times. These are not normal times.

A Third Party Wins     The most striking this about this election is the almost fierce dislike for both candidates Trump and Biden. The entire country seems to be aghast to see these same two old men as our only choices — again. Many astute political analysts think this is a perfect situation for a third party candidate to actually pull off an historic upset. 

A 2nd American Revolution    Yes, I know this sounds like Bill’s naive optimism again. Bear me out, please. Bidenomics is booming while Trump’s craziness can only mount as his trials progress. Sure, most MAGA maniacs will always support Trump, but even now about 1/3 say they will abandon him if convicted. And almost half of the public votes independent. All this suggests a perfect storm for a Biden landslide victory. That, in turn, could finally force GOP leaders to dump Trump en masse, leaving a diminishing group of mad followers trailing behind him into oblivion. After retreating from the brink of dictatorship, the Nation could redouble its faith in the democracy we almost lost. A 2nd American Revolution.

These scenarios are only wild cards, of course, and others may be possible in this zany time. I estimate the probability of each at about 5 %, but collectively that means a 20 % or so chance of some unlikely outcome. Another reminder that we are now living Beyond Knowledge


Presidential Election Winner
1. Who do you think is most likely to win the 2024 US presidential election ? Please respond by stating probabilities and brief comments for the following options (answers should total 100%):
A.   Trump
B.   Biden
C.   Other (Nikki Haley, No Labels, Robert Kennedy, etc.)

Polarization vs Cooperation in US
2. Will the outcome of the 2024 general election (at the federal, state, and local levels) increase polarization or increase cooperation ? Please respond by indicating the probability and brief comments for the three options below (answers should total 100%):
A.    A deepening of socio-political polarization
B.    Maintaining roughly the same levels of divisiveness
C.    A shift toward more mutual respect and cooperation 


Affirm Democracy
3. What is the likelihood over the next decade or so that polarization in the US will be largely resolved to affirm the Nation’s democratic heritage ? Please respond by stating a probability from 0 to 100% and brief comments.

Polarization vs Cooperation in World
4. More than half of the world’s nations will be electing heads of state in 2024. Will the outcome of these elections increase polarization or increase cooperation for the world at large ? Please respond by indicating the probability and brief comments for the three options below (answers should total 100%):
A.     A deepening of socio-political polarization
B.     Maintaining roughly the same levels of divisiveness
C.     A shift toward more mutual respect and cooperation 

Decrease Autocrats Globally
5. What is the likelihood that the 2024 US election will help resolve autocratic movements in the world at large ? Please respond by stating a probability from 0 to 100% and brief comments.
For the complete study, including extensive experts comments, click here.

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America’s Crisis of Maturity

America’s Crisis of Maturity: Democracy or Autocracy ? The coming US Presidential election should provide a critical test of American democracy. It may be thought of

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