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The 10 Types of Dems Who Will Decide the 2024 Election

America’s big-tent party is finding different ways to cope with a tense election.

Illustration by Wesley Merritt

Just because the 2024 election may decide the future of American democracy doesn’t mean that the race is riveting, let alone dramatic, six months before November 5. Each day of this campaign seems endless for Democrats desperately craving reassurance from polls, portents, or messages from the Delphic Oracle.

But the shocking truth (come close to the screen so I can whisper this) is about all that we know at this stage is that the election will be very close. This you-can’t-read-it-anywhere-else bombshell assessment is solely based on the fact that four of the previous six presidential races have been summon-the-election-lawyers tight.

This nerve-jangling uncertainty does have its value: It can serve as a Rorschach test revealing 10 common personality types of Democrats. We are a big-tent party when it comes to differing psychological ways of dealing with the specter of the Once and Future President Donald J. Trump. Here, in a draft paper originally intended for the American Psychoanalytic Association, is my typology of these Democrats:

The Poll Vaulters: Their slogan might as well be, “Have Crosstabs—Will Travel.” They treat every new poll as if it were the Rosetta Stone. When The New York Times in early March led the paper for two straight days with dire-for-Biden poll results, it sparked a dramatic upsurge in airline reservations to Auckland, New Zealand, for January 20, 2025. Historically, polls in the early spring are about as accurate as a blunderbuss. But these poll-propelled Democrats are obsessed with every detail, from the size of a poll’s sample to the partisan breakdown of left-handed voters with some college education. Sadly, a large proportion of political reporters suffer from the same malady.

Eeyore Democrats: They know that America is doomed, since they can already hear the sound of marching jackboots. These natural pessimists can take any event and turn it into new evidence that Trump will prevail. In their view, Mike Pence declaring that he would not endorse Trump in 2024 is an example of the Former Guy cleverly purging disloyal Republicans to strengthen the GOP for November. These depressives interpret every new economic indicator as bad news for Joe Biden. Advice for friends of such Eeyore Democrats: Never allow them to take a scenic walk, supposedly just for the exercise, across a high bridge.

Fox News Masochists: These Democrats take the military mantra, “Know your enemy,” to ridiculous extremes. They watch Fox more often than an 84-year-old retiree in North Dakota who is convinced that immigrants are surging over the border solely to steal his hard-earned hoard of Bitcoin. Instead of reading polls, these long-suffering Democrats try to divine the political mood by watching the facial expressions of Fox News hosts when they talk about Trump.

Armchair Political Consultants: They have it all figured out based on gut instincts and regular viewing of Morning Joe. Their magic elixirs range wildly, from Joe Biden exclusively appealing to Nikki Haley voters to the president veering left to reassure the base. But what is consistent is the absolute certainty with which these would-be James Carvilles deliver their strategic pronouncements to anyone they encounter at the grocery store or the health club.

Democratic Media Critics: They are particularly assertive, since they have more than a dollop of truth on their side. It is undeniable that news organizations blunder into false equivalency by, say, likening a Trump rant threatening to destroy the Constitution with run-of-the-mill partisan invective from Biden. This produces anodyne headlines like, “Presidential Contenders Exchange Barbs.” But these frightened Democratic media critics have lost all sense of proportion. They are obsessed with every sentence in every news story, especially in The New York Times. It is hard for them to grasp that a swing voter in Wisconsin will probably not be swayed by a dumb headline on page 19 of the print edition of the Times.

Head-in-the-Sand Democrats: This rare breed takes its inspiration from Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss, who believed that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” That’s a hard doctrine to follow for 2024, but you have to admire these oblivious Democrats for trying to maintain a smiley face. In their view, Trump cannot possibly win, because they don’t know any Trump voters. And, besides, that sort of authoritarian triumph can’t happen here. This mindset, by the way, appears to afflict the Biden White House.

Self-Absorbed Democrats: They are convinced that all politics revolves around them personally. Whether their animating cause is Gaza, student loans, or climate change, they are convinced that Biden’s position on their pet issue will decide the election. As evidence, they cite all their friends who feel the same way. Of course, none of these Democrats live in a swing state. But they all do seem to believe that as goes Brooklyn, so goes the nation.

Doctors Who Forgot to Go to Medical School: The lack of formal credentials does not prevent these Democrats from making instant diagnoses every time Biden appears on the TV screen. Worried about the stamina of the 81-year-old president for the fall campaign, these ace diagnosticians, operating from afar, detect in Biden every known disease from advanced dandruff to the bubonic plague.

Contested Convention Dreamers: These look-to-the-future Democrats have always assumed Biden would not really run for a second term. Even when the president announced last year that he was running, these dreamers clung to their predictions. They then expected a Biden withdrawal as the dramatic close of the State of the Union address. Now, as a fallback position, they have convinced themselves that in mid-August, on the eve of the Chicago convention, Biden will react to dispiriting polls by bowing out of the presidential race. They can picture Biden saying, “I’ve fooled you for over a year. But I can no longer live a lie. I’m not running.” In this cockamamie fantasy about a last-minute floor fight for the nomination, they join every political reporter who has been hoping to witness a second convention ballot sometime in their lifetime.

The Gimlet-Eyed Realists: These Democrats do not allow natural biorhythms dictating pessimism or optimism to determine their political expectations. They also realize that up-for-grabs voters in swing states are probably ignoring springtime political news because (gasp!) they feel they have better things to do. As a result, these Democratic realists take pains not to overreact to any political development while the trees are still budding.

There is just one problem: There are only three of these Democratic realists in existence—and I have my doubts about the other two.