Down-and-probably-out Republican candidates, depressed Democrats, and Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump.

Photo by Heather McQuaid on Unsplash.

Before Iowa, the media landscape was littered with hopeful predictions that a late-breaking snowstorm, moderate Republicans, a coalition of anti-Trumpers —something, anything — might derail former Donald Trump’s path to the Republican nomination.

Haley seems poised for second place in Iowa,” moped Dan Balz for the Washington Post on Tuesday. “But can she deliver her voters?

“Iowa reveals the grim indignities of running for second place to Trump,” wrote Balz. “The former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina governor has been gaining ground in Iowa. The Iowa Poll released on Saturday night showed her running ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has staked his candidacy on this state. Whether she has the political muscle to deliver on that showing is one of the key questions the caucuses should answer.”

Iowa Can Put Ron DeSantis Out of His Misery Tonight,” speculated John Nichols for The Nation on Tuesday morning.

“The Florida governor’s presidential bid has already crashed and burned, but a major caucus defeat could finally get him off the campaign trail,” projected Nichols. “Ron DeSantis is not going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2024.”

Or perhaps ever.

“In fact, what once seemed like a promising bid to displace former president Donald Trump as the party’s standard-bearer has failed so miserably that the governor of Florida may have dealt a permanent blow to his long-term presidential prospects,” wrote Nichols.

What more erudite members of the media referred to as a “political anachronism” went entirely Trump’s way as he trounced the primary competition in Iowa.

A Biden-Trump Rematch Is No Reason To Panic,” David Masci played the lone dissenting voice of reason for Real Clear Politics. “The 2024 election may look to many like a hot mess, but the country is strong and wise enough to withstand another Trump or Biden term.”

Everywhere else it was: “The Ruin That a Trump Presidency Would Mean,” David Frum — the Atlantic. “A dangerous undercurrent is pulling Americans toward the political extreme,” Oliver Darcy, CNN. “The media is turning a blind eye to it.”

Part of the panic almost certainly stems from President Joe Biden’s low poll numbers of late.

Biden Needs to Govern Like He’s Probably Going to Lose,” cautioned Alexander Sammon for left-leaning Slate on Wednesday morning.

“If Biden’s topline numbers are bad, his demographic cross-tabs look even worse: The president’s support among young voters, Black voters, and Hispanic voters, all critical constituencies, all seem to be cratering,” lamented Sammon. “Another late-2023 poll pegged Biden with record low favorability marks — which members of Bidenworld countered by telling the press they felt ‘deep frustration,’ but, critically, that the White House feels no panic about the 81-year-old’s prospects.”

Trump tops his opponents while Biden hits a new low in approval ahead of Iowa caucus: POLL,” wrote Gary Langer for ABC News on January 14, 2024. “72% of Republican-aligned adults would be satisfied with Trump as the nominee.”

“Compared with Trump on the Republican side, considerably fewer Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would be satisfied with Biden as their party’s nominee, 57% — a reflection of his weak ratings overall and on issues including the economy and immigration,” Langer continued.

AJC poll: Trump leads Biden in pivotal Georgia,” reported Greg Bluestein and Michelle Baruchman for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this week.

“President Joe Biden trails former President Donald Trump in a head-to-head rematch in Georgia, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of registered voters that shows the Republican with a solid 45% to 37% lead over the Democratic incumbent.”

“‘We all have concerns’: Hill Democrats see flawed Biden campaign,” reported John T. Bennett for Roll Call on January 16, 2024.

“Some veteran Democrats see a campaign that needs stronger leadership, more diversity and a stronger message,” Bennett wrote. “While they credit Biden for building what they called a successful first term, Democratic members said they are concerned about the campaign’s ability to win over skeptical independents and frustrated Democratic voters.”

Corruption Charges (Still) Loom As Major Barrier To Biden Reelection In 2024: I&I/TIPP Poll,” reported Terry Jones for Tipp Insights last week. “The president’s denials have been contradicted by a continuous stream of revelations.”

Democrats have no Biden backup plan for 2024, despite age concerns,” Jeff Mason wrote for Reuters on December 1, 2023. “The Democratic Party has no Plan B if President Joe Biden decided for any reason to halt his 2024 re-election campaign, and a sudden need to replace him as its standard-bearer would spark a messy intraparty battle.”

“Despite weak poll numbers and questions, including from some Democrats, about his age, Biden has stuck to his plan to seek a second term after clearing the field of serious Democratic primary challengers when he announced in April that he was running again.”

Do You Remember the Ecstasy of Electing Joe Biden?” reminisced Jonathan Chait for the Intelligencer.

“Despite countless op-eds and campaign ads warning of the threat that a second Trump term poses to the democratic order, the imperative to keep Trump out of the Oval Office has become tiresome. The signs of that exhaustion are everywhere in our politics today. It may be the most dominant attribute of our national mood.”

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)