What America’s Last Political Bellweather Predicts for 2024

From a New York Times podcast hosted by Astead W. Herndon and produced by Caitlin O’Keefe headlined “What the Last Political Bellweather in America Predicts for 2024”:

Clallam County in Washington State is far from Washington, D.C. — almost as far as you can go without leaving the continental United States.

It’s right on the border with Canada. It’s home to about 78,000 people and Olympic National Park. It’s home to Forks, perhaps best known as the setting of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series.

It’s also the home of a particular piece of political trivia.

Of more than 3,000 counties in the United States, it is the only one that has voted for the winner of the presidential race every year since 1980. It earned this distinction in 2020.

That year’s contest — the race between President Biden and former president Donald J. Trump — broke the streaks of other longstanding bellwether counties. But Clallam, which went for Mr. Trump in 2016 by more than 1,100 votes, chose Mr. Biden.

The country is a year out from the 2024 presidential election, and despite a robust Republican primary field, the race is looking like it could easily be a 2020 rematch. So at “The Run-Up,” we thought Clallam County could give us something resembling a prediction.

We spent a day in the Fairmount Diner in Port Angeles, Wash., talking to a wide range of people: committed Biden voters, committed Trump voters, people who were hoping for anyone but Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump.

From a lot of the Democratic voters we talked to, we heard the sorts of concerns that have been reflected in national polls. People felt Mr. Biden was too old to be the nominee again. And they were worried the party was out of touch with the concerns of rural voters.

It wasn’t all gloom, though. Voters like John Stanek and Kate Bradshaw, a married couple who have been in Clallam for more than a decade, expressed satisfaction with the Biden administration — and cautious optimism for 2024.

“I guess I’m in the 30 percent approval rating,” Mr. Stanek said. “I think he’s done a pretty good job.”

Rosa Cary, a substitute teacher, said she had been in the county for just over a year. A lifelong Democrat, she expressed measured optimism about 2024.

“I don’t believe it’ll be a landslide,” she said. “I don’t believe that Biden will win by a larger margin.”

But given that Mr. Biden won once without “any trial or indictments” taking place against his opponent, Ms. Cary said, she thinks he has a better chance now.

The Fairmount Diner did live up to the promise we had been given by locals: The patrons were politically mixed. Alongside those cautiously upbeat Democrats were Trump supporters, including several who had moved with the county and voted for Mr. Trump after voting for former President Barack Obama twice.

They said the issues that mattered most to them were a strong economy and stopping illegal immigration — and indicated that they had also embraced the baseless claim that the 2020 election was rigged, which changed how they were looking ahead to 2024.

“I didn’t accept them in the first place,” Rick Parr, a Trump supporter and auto mechanic from Port Angeles, said of the 2020 results. “How can a man that’s sat in his basement win an election?”

For Republicans who had hoped their party would move on from Mr. Trump in 2024, a feeling of being politically homeless combined with worry about the outcome of other races.

“We’re trying to elect a Republican governor this year for the first time since 1985,” said Matthew Roberson, who is involved with the party locally. “We’ve got two decent candidates running. But, you know, if Donald Trump is on the ballot, that’s going to be more of a challenge.”

Everyone we asked seemed to think that Clallam would back Mr. Biden in his re-election bid — and that he would win. They weren’t all happy to be making this prediction, but if Mr. Biden wins, it will keep the streak alive.

Astead W. Herndon is a national politics reporter and the host of the politics podcast “The Run-Up.”

“The Run-Up” is hosted by Astead W. Herndon and produced by Anna Foley, Elisa Gutierrez, Caitlin O’Keefe. The show is edited by Rachel Dry, Lisa Tobin and Frannie Carr Toth. Engineering by Corey Schreppel and original music by Dan Powell, Marion Lozano, Pat McCusker, Diane Wong and Elisheba Ittoop. Fact-checking by Caitlin Love.

Special thanks to Paula Szuchman, Sam Dolnick, Larissa Anderson, David Halbfinger, Renan Borelli, Mahima Chablani, Jeffrey Miranda, Kitty Bennett and Maddy Masiello.

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