Editor’s note: This essay is part of a series looking at the upcoming 2024 election cycle from different political perspectives.

Do you remember November of 2020? It hasn’t been that long if you look at a calendar, but it already feels like a lifetime ago.

Just take a minute and think about what life was like when America last went to the polls and elected Joe Biden as our 46th president: The country was still firmly in the grips of a historic pandemic, with COVID-19 cases skyrocketing and deaths soaring thanks to a badly bungled response by the Trump administration. The economy was in free fall, on its way to losing 9.4 million jobs in a single year — the largest decline on record. And for millions of Americans, normal life had ground to a halt: schools were closed, child care providers were shutting their doors, people were stuck in their houses. And without a widely available vaccine, it felt like there was no end in sight.

How times have changed. 

Today, just a few years later, life looks very different. Under the steady leadership of Biden and his Democratic partners in Congress, America has navigated through the worst of the pandemic and life has returned to normal. Soon after taking office, Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, funding a historic vaccination campaign that resulted in 79% of Americans being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The bill also safely reopened schools for in-person learning, helped 200,000 child care providers stay in business, and provided financial relief directly to millions of American families trying to weather an unprecedented economic storm.

We’ve maneuvered our way through that storm now — and the economy has come roaring back. Under the Biden administration, the country has created 12 million jobs, marking the strongest two-year period of job growth on record. There are now more people working than at any point in American history, and the country recently hit its lowest unemployment rate in more than 50 years. Entrepreneurship is surging as well, with more small business applications in the past two years than ever before. And while lingering inflation driven by the aftershocks of pandemic-era challenges has been stubbornly persistent and undoubtedly painful for many Americans, we’re making progress there as well — in March, inflation fell to its lowest level since May 2021.

It has often been said that elections are decided by how the voters answer one central question: Are you better off than you were four years ago? As the machinery of the campaign-industrial complex begins to whir to life once more ahead of 2024, and with the nearly every facet of American life remarkably different — and in most cases, demonstrably better — than the last time the country headed to the voting booth, it’s safe to say that Biden and the Democrats have a compelling story to tell on the trail.

Democrats have delivered for voters

Of course, the Democratic pitch for 2024 isn’t only a tale of pulling the nation back from the brink. It’s also a track record of succeeding where other presidents and congressional majorities previously failed — namely, in delivering on a slew of highly popular priorities that will prepare the country to not only survive in the present, but continue to thrive far into the future.

Perhaps the best example of this dynamic is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that directed more than $1.2 trillion toward fixing and modernizing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. This type of significant investment has been sorely needed for years, and as such, it became a white whale for multiple presidents of both parties. The Trump administration was so intent on brokering some kind of deal on the issue — and so hopelessly unsuccessful in actually doing so — that its futile efforts to declare seemingly every week as “Infrastructure Week” became Washington’s longest-running joke

But where Trump and his Republican allies failed, Biden and the Democrats succeeded, constructing a package that could draw enough GOP votes to finally pass through a closely divided Congress — and coming off as the cool-headed and compromise-friendly adults in the room in the process. Now, with Biden’s signature making it the law of the land and those federal dollars flowing out into communities across the country, the legislation’s impact is beginning to be felt: high-priority local projects are being funded, millions of good-paying jobs are being created, and the law is so popular that Republican lawmakers who voted against it are now desperately trying to take credit for its impact.

That sure sounds like a win for Team Blue to me.

But it doesn’t end there. Democrats have delivered on issue after issue in a similar fashion, often reaching across the aisle to identify enough reasonable Republican partners who are willing to compromise and get the job done for the American people. 

For example, after years of legislative inaction and countless lives senselessly lost in dozens of mass shootings, Biden and the Democrats finally pushed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act through Congress — making it the first meaningful gun safety legislation enacted into law in nearly 30 years.

And with the United States falling behind in the tech race due to China’s dominance in manufacturing semiconductors and microchips, Biden and the Democrats led the charge to pass the CHIPS and Science Act (with a modicum of Republican support), making substantial investments to bring supply chains back from overseas and ensure the technologies of tomorrow are made here at home.

Even when they couldn’t convince the GOP to do the right thing, Democrats still found a way to deliver. Most notably, the Inflation Reduction Act made historic investments in lowering costs for American families, combatting the climate crisis, reducing the deficit and ensuring that big corporations pay their fair share in taxes — all without a single Republican vote.

That’s what real leadership looks like. 

Donald Trump is toxic to Republicans’ electoral hopes

But if we’re being honest, there’s a high likelihood that this election won’t be decided based on how good a yarn Joe Biden and the Democrats can spin about their considerable accomplishments. Because while elections can certainly be referendums on whether or not voters are better off, they are also, at their very core, a choice — and in the United States, you only get two viable options.

Biden himself is fond of recounting a quote from his father that neatly encapsulates this dynamic: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.” And fortunately for the president and his party, the alternative in 2024 is highly likely to be Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

We’re talking about a party that hasn’t won the popular vote in a presidential election in 20 years. And since Trump swallowed the GOP whole and subsequently remade it in his image in 2016, the results have only gotten worse: Republicans lost the House in 2018, lost the White House and the Senate in 2020, and dramatically underperformed expectations in a historically favorable environment in 2022.

Even this year, the GOP’s run of poor performance has continued unabated. The party’s loss in last month’s hotly contested race to tip control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court offered yet another data point suggesting that the current MAGA-fied iteration of the Republican Party just isn’t all that good at converting the quasi-religious fervor of Trump’s most ardent superfans into actual votes that produce wins in high-profile races in swing states.

The most glaring problem, of course, is Trump. His standing with the median voter has only eroded since 2020, thanks to his now well-documented attacks on our democracy in the aftermath of his defeat and his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection that many consider to be among the darkest days in recent history. A recent Associated Press survey confirmed this slide, revealing that 70% of Americans don’t want Trump to run for reelection, with the number of voters who view him favorably mired at an anemic 34% — more than 10 points below Biden, who admittedly isn’t exactly the most popular guy in his own right at the moment. 

And yet because Trump still remains wildly popular with the party’s base, the GOP continues (perhaps bewilderingly) to hug him tight. Republican elected officials are flocking to endorse him ahead of 2024 and there’s no sign that any non-Trump candidate can consolidate enough support to seriously challenge him. As a result, Trump appears to be on a glide path to his party’s nomination for a third straight time — and every indicator points to that being a losing combination for Republicans up and down the ticket.

Americans aren’t buying what Republicans are selling

But even if the GOP saw the writing on the wall and somehow figured out a way to nominate someone other than Trump, that wouldn’t necessarily solve all the party’s problems. Despite some pundits’ fascination with the political prospects of “Trumpism without Trump,” the nature of the party’s increasingly conservative base makes it virtually impossible for any candidate to win a Republican primary without taking a host of extreme positions that would poison the well for any subsequent general election campaign.

Look no further than the leading Trump alternative of the moment, Ron DeSantis. Poll after poll has shown that the Florida governor’s “anti-woke” crusade is celebrated by the GOP’s hardcore base, but remains extremely unpopular with the broader electorate. Whether it’s demonizing Disney (for some reason that still mystifies me) or banning books and stifling free exchanges in the classroom, most people just don’t share what passes for Republican “values” right now.

And in places where Republicans do currently possess sufficient power to impose their will, the party has enacted an unpopular agenda so dogmatically that they’ve overreached, spurring backlash that has already hurt GOP candidates at the ballot box.

Nowhere is this clearer than the battle over abortion rights. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a highly controversial 2022 decision, Democrats have used the issue as a political rallying cry to both motivate the party’s progressive base and win over a hefty chunk of independent voters, particularly suburban women.

Trump or no Trump, Republicans’ underlying problem persists: Americans simply aren’t interested in buying what they’re selling.

Politics can be complicated, but elections are simple: Success depends on your candidate or party having a clear, coherent narrative to bring to the voters, and on that narrative being more persuasive than your opponent’s. Sure, the tactical decision-making and behind-the-scenes mechanics of campaigns can make a difference around the margins, but at their most basic level, elections are won and lost on the story you can tell.

Joe Biden and the Democrats have a stronger story to tell this time around. 

On the one hand, from successfully steering the country out of some of its darkest hours to delivering historic victories on highly popular policies that will improve people’s lives, they can make a compelling case that voters are better off today because of their steady leadership amidst turbulent times. 

And on the other, they have the good fortune of being able to draw a clear contrast that positions themselves as a better, safer and more capable option than an unpopular alternative: a rerun of Donald Trump and his Republican acolytes’ toxic blend of chaos and extremism that nobody outside the GOP’s most hardcore supporters is asking for.

As the old saying goes, you’d rather be lucky than good. But thankfully for Joe Biden and the Democrats, they might actually be both.

Steve Pierce, a contributing writer for Deseret, is a Democratic strategist and communications consultant who advises campaigns, causes and brands on matters of message and strategy. He currently works as a senior director at Bully Pulpit Interactive — a communications firm based in Washington, D.C. — and previously held roles with Priorities USA, Hillary For America and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, among others.