Scroll to the top

Biden vs. MAGA Republicans

Biden vs. MAGA Republicans
- YouTube

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. And as you can see from the getup, I am back in New York City. Happy to be with you for a Quick Take of what I think is going on. I wanted to talk a little bit about Biden versus the MAGA Republicans, because of course, if you go back to the inaugural when President Biden had just taken over, he was the unifier. This was the man that was elected to try to reduce tempers and division inside what has become the most politically divided and dysfunctional of G7 economies. And wanted to bring to an end, what Biden referred to in that speech, as the uncivil war that pits red versus blue.

Now over the course of the last few days, President Biden has said something very different. He's referred to MAGA Republicans as semi-fascists a few months ago. Of course, he was talking about ultra MAGA. I guess those are now full-on fascist. And of course, they're also Americans and yes, it is absolutely true that some MAGA Republicans overtly support overturning a free and fair election and even using violence in so doing. And that is deeply problematic for the persistence and strength of a democracy. But it's also true that not all supporters of Donald Trump feel that way and taring 30% to 35% of the US population as beyond redemption tends to harden the political divides in the country.

So what is going on here? Because it's not like Trump has changed, right? Trump is the same person that he was when Biden gave the inaugural. So there's no surprise here. There's no Biden suddenly realizing, “Oh my God, look at who this guy really is.” That isn't different. And the MAGA movement and the people that support “Make America Great Again” as a slogan haven't changed, and those numbers are roughly what they were. Biden knows that too. So why would Biden's message be so dramatically different today than it was six months ago, a year ago, two years ago? The answer I think pretty clearly is that he and his administration sense a short-term domestic political opportunity.

Trump was of course sinking a little bit in the polls. Republicans still liked him, but they weren't talking as much about him. Other potential candidates were getting a lot more air time. Most notably at this point, Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida. Even with the January 6th hearings that got an enormous amount of play with people that opposed Trump, supporters of Trump weren't paying all that much attention. Fox of course barely covered it. Newsmax, you couldn't find it. So wasn't that big of a deal. And then Trump pops up and becomes pretty dominant in the news cycle, following the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, and that made it much harder for those Republicans trying to distance themselves from Trump or not talk about him to stay quiet. Suddenly there was an outpouring of animosity towards the DOJ, towards the FBI for taking Trump on. It made it hard for Republicans to hedge.

Biden, I think has a clear strategy. He wants to make it harder. He doesn't want Republicans hedging about Trump. He wants them forced to embrace Trump or take the Liz Cheney route, which virtually none will do. And this is all about electoral opportunity with the midterm elections nearing. The Dems of course do have some significant policy wins that they can now run on. In particular the completely misnamed Inflation Reduction Act, horrible. No one's reducing inflation with the bills that have just been passed. You're spending a lot more in terms of student debt and in terms of the CHIPS Act and semiconductors. But nonetheless, when you put these policies together, meaningful policies, that will matter to a lot of people that support Joe Biden and to a lot of independence that are wavering.

So they have policy to run on, but inflation still seems pretty high and it's probably going to be reduced somewhat by November, but not enough to make the average American feel really confident about where the economy is, especially with a still significant potential of a recession coming in the coming months. At the same time, a really close Senate, a set of Senate races that could go either way in part because you have a significant number of overtly Trump supporting candidates that are not likely to perform as well in the general election as more moderate, more centrist Republicans would.

I think it's important to remember that Trump won the Senate for Biden and the Democrats the first time around. The Republicans would've taken the Senate if it hadn't been for Trump opposing the so-called stolen election and telling people in Georgia not to turn out because of the failure that Trump had to carry the state to carry the election. And that meant that in two special elections back in January, a year plus ago, Trump and the Republicans lost both of them and that meant a 50-50 win for the Democrats. That's a really big deal.

So I think it's pretty clear here that Joe Biden believes, and therefore he's going to bang this drum against MAGA Republicans harder and harder up until the midterms, that if he takes that position there's a better shot that the Dems are able to hold the Senate and maybe even take one or two additional seats. That the Republican House, which is very likely to be brought about, will be a smaller red wave than the swing that you would otherwise expect. I think that's pretty clear.

It is probably true that Biden's strategy leads to more democratic seats come midterms. It is also true that that strategy probably leads to more election deniers in office. It gives Trump more hold over the Republican Party than he otherwise would have. It makes it more likely he ultimately secures the nomination. As we look ahead to 2024, yes, Trump versus Biden. Trump is more likely to lose than a lot of other Republicans that could get the nomination against Biden I get that, but any possibility that Trump could legitimately win, and certainly that is within the realm of plausible, is much more dangerous for us democracy.

Of course also, even if Trump loses the likelihood that he would lead an effort, more likely to be successful given governors and secretaries of state and others with electoral authority in individual states, that Trump would be able to break an election that he lost is all so much more likely. And my personal view is that anything that gives Trump more capacity to either win the election or to break the election and erode us institutions is a deeply problematic thing for the United States. So in this regard, I have a great deal of concern about where Biden is going with his strategy presently.

So, that's my view in a few moments for all of you. I hope you find it interesting worth chewing on. I'll be talking to you all again real soon. Be good.

For more of Ian Bremmer's weekly analyses, subscribe to his GZERO World newsletter at


Subscribe to GZERO's daily newsletter