Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party. 

Clowns to the left of me

Jokers to the right

Here I am

Stuck in the middle with you.

These are lyrics from the song “Stuck in the Middle With You,” co-written by Garry Rafferty and Joe Eagan and performed by their band in 1972. The 43 percent of voters who now identify as politically independent, according to Gallup, might agree that the lyrics “stuck in the middle” speak to them and our 2024 presidential election.

On March 12, Joe Biden and Donald Trump locked up their respective political party nomination, starting a 244-day campaign to November 5.

Research reveals the vast majority of registered Democrats are committed to vote for Biden despite his octogenarian age (though former Special Counsel Robert Hur told the president during one interview, “You appear to have a photographic understanding and recall”).

Likewise, research indicates most MAGA Republicans will vote for Trump, regardless of past legal issues (e.g., court verdicts related to E. Jean Carroll’s claim of sexual abuse, possible fraud and tax evasion by the Trump Organization) and pending criminal cases related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, alleged misuse of classified materials, and falsifying business records in connection to hush money payments to a porn star).

Research is also replete that due to polarization among registered Democrats and Republicans, independents will determine who will be the country’s 47th president.

A number of Democratic and Republican loyalists are turning against their respective party’s designated presidential candidate. Let’s explore that issue.

Back in the summer of 2022, Politico reported that RootsAction, a left-wing activist group that supported Biden’s 2020 presidential election, tried to persuade Biden not to run in 2024.

Some polls show weakness for Biden among several core Democratic constituencies: Blacks, Latinos, and young people.

Gallup’s annual governance poll from September 2023 indicated that 63 percent of U.S. adults “agree with the statement that the Republican and Democratic parties do ‘such a poor job’ of representing the American people that ‘a third major party is needed.'” American Bridge, Third Way, MoveOn and Save our Republic PAC – all left-of-center groups — are worried the centrist group No Labels and political activists’ Robert F. Kennedy, Cornel West and Jill Stein will take votes away from Biden.

Third-party presidential candidates are Biden’s biggest re-election threat (though it’s not yet clear whether they will appear on the ballot in crucial swing states).

Meanwhile, Trump’s world is in more turmoil than the Biden camp. Business Insider reported last year that just four of Trump’s 44 former cabinet members had publicly endorsed his 2024 candidacy. Wikipedia’s “List of Republicans who oppose the Donald Trump presidential campaign” features 128 individuals at this writing, including many current or former statewide elected officials and members of Congress.

Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr testified before Congress that Trump is “a troubled man” who must face justice. Former Vice President Mike Pence recently announced on Fox News his ex-boss has strayed too far from conservative philosophy. Neither plans to endorse Trump’s campaign.

A group called Republican Voters Against Trump has launched a $50 million ad campaign featuring first-person video testimonials of more than 100 former Trump voters.

In January, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board publicly criticized Trump for meddling into Congressional talks on border security. The editorial also panned his threat to permanently bar Republicans from the MAGA camp who supported Nikki Haley’s campaign, calling his actions “a high act of self-sabotage” that “would be a good reason to vote for someone else.”

The Wall Street Journal and Trump romance has been eroding for years as witnessed by the editorial board’s leading op-ed shortly after the November 2022 elections, titled “Trump is the Republican party’s biggest loser.”

Turnover of employees is a standard business measure of stability or chaos. Donald Trump had a 35 percent first-year turnover of senior executives, while Joe Biden only had an 8 percent first-year turnover, according to Axios. On Trump’s last day of office, 60 of the 65 senior executives (92 percent) had left his administration. Currently, Biden’s turnover rate is 71 percent.

Between now and November 5, continue to do your independent presidential candidate homework versus being a lemming and getting hoodwinked by each side’s disinformation, misinformation, or propaganda.

Let’s admit it. We have clowns to the left, jokers to the right and here I am—like 43 percent of voters—stuck in the middle with you.

About the Author(s)

Steve Corbin

  • RFK Jr, Stein, and other choices worthy of your vote

    Good article! Dementia Joe and the Bad Orange Man are two poor choices for POTUS. Am glad we have some independent choices to consider. Both parties want a “lockstep mentality” regardless of how poor their respective candidates are. They both resort to fear mongering “end of democracy”, “extremism”, etc. to scare voters. Have voted Democrat for president since 1980 but not this time. Do your homework and think for yourself.

  • great a post that feeds the trolls

    this is such a weak both-sides analysis it doesn’t even rise to the level of Ezra Klein’s latest display of arrogance and profound ignorance about actual electoral politics, even after he had been told what is really happening:

  • If not a 100% Biden, then you're a troll?

    I have given tens of thousands of dollars to democrat candidates over the years and see if you’re not a 100% Biden apologist, then you are labeled a “troll.” Biden’s policies and mental acumen should be questioned. It would be unpatriotic not to. Good local candidates will continue to receive my financial support but not Biden.

  • There seems to be a very large gap...

    …between those of us who see Trump as an existential threat to democracy, and those who see Trump and Biden as being just equivalent bad candidates. One of my conservative evangelical relatives is as horrified by Trump as I am, and plans to vote for Biden for that reason. I hope there will be enough voters like her on our side of the gap to keep Trump out of office.

  • local union split between Trump/Biden - time to look at other options

    Shop steward says he won’t be voting for President Biden. Seems to be a pretty even split among rank and file between President Biden and former President Trump. I’m not a fan of either and am starting to learn more about RFK Jr. Am going to an informational meeting about getting him on the ballot in Iowa.