The top 16 people who will have the biggest impact on the 2024 presidential campaign, excluding the candidates, are given below.
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16. Whoever is in charge of message discipline for Robert Kennedy
When he is good, the Biden rival sounds like a cross (in a good, politically potent way) between Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Isaac Newton, John McCain, and his dad. That has the potential to let him build a coalition in New Hampshire and around the nation that could lead to more momentum-building stuff like Jack Dorsey’s endorsement. When he gets in the weeds, he comes across as a more meandering and less focused combination of Jim Traficant, Gene Sperling, and Carl Sagan. The difference between the two versions of RFK is the difference between his leaving a scratch on President Biden that a dab of Neosporin handles or dismembering the incumbent’s arm in a wood chipper.
15. Kim Reynolds
The Iowa governor says she has no plans to endorse in the presidential race, but it isn’t hard to see a scenario where her last-minute backing of a surging, say, Ron DeSantis or Tim Scott leads to a caucus-changing outcome that dethrones Trump and leads to a whole new ballgame. If she makes the move with a blend of perfect timing, boffo wordsmithing and setting, and a leveraging of her Hawkeye State popularity, she could become the biggest GOP kingmaker since John Sununu in 1988.
14. Jerome Powell
In the end, nothing will matter to the Democrats’ chances than whether or not there is a Goldilocks economy for them to run on – and no one will play a bigger role in trying for a landing as soft as a roll of Charmin Ultra than the Fed chair. To cut or not to cut? Both the fickle markets and the worried consumers will be watching closely to see by the spring of 2024 if we are in Recession Land, Inflation Hell, or somewhere in between.
12/13. Merrick Garland and Lisa Monaco
The AG and his savvy deputy have to make charging decisions on both presidential candidates as well as the son of one of them, all with impossible damned-no-matter-what scrutiny. Monaco has demonstrated more understanding and mastery than her boss of the politics and press dimensions that will have to be part of any well made and well executed decisions.
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10/11. Jim Clyburn and Al Sharpton
It is inevitable and the nature of the beast: Joe Biden is going to hit some rough spots in 2024 that will require significant wagon circling by the cavalry. And no two horsemen better deal with Democratic political apocalypses than the pair of pols who bailed the Delawarean out at critical moments in the last campaign than Clyburn (who did it very publicly) and Sharpton (who was integral behind the scenes). And if Biden decides to exit the field for any reason (or is forced to), these two will be the most powerful power brokers in the party.
8/9. Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita
The co-managers of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign need to keep him on message, leverage their organizational edges, avoid an Iowa upset, dominate the debate about debates, raise enough cash to keep the boss happy, orchestrate the greatest legal defense in American political history, and simultaneously build majority strategies for both Republican delegates and Electoral College votes. Also, they need to get along and harness the unique talents of a candidate who is 1 for 2 (and/but claims to think he is 2 for 2).
The DeSantis Doctrine is to use the institution he controls—government—to rescue or defang other institutions consumed by wokeness.