Biden is the incumbent with no serious challenges.

Given his unpopularity with Democrats, why hasn't there been a campaign run by Democrats or maybe even some anti-Trump Republicans to get Democrat voters to vote in the Republican primary and vote Trump out?

In fact, given that the incumbent is generally never challenged, why doesn't this happen at every election? Why wouldn't the opposition primary be largely influenced by voters from both parties? For any voter, if you had to vote in only one primary, you should pick the primary where your vote mattered?

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    @fyrepenguin Whether you can vote in a given primary depends on the state. In some states, you must be registered as a member of the party. In others you do not but you can only vote in one primary. I don't know if there's a state that allows you to vote in as many primaries as you like but I don't think there's anything preventing it.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Jan 3 at 22:01
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    Saddening that the answer apparently isn't "because that's not what a democracy does".
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Jan 4 at 6:20
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    @DonQuiKong, I wouldn't be so harsh. There are many democracies that don't have closed primaries, or have a runoff system that removes the need for primaries. The fact that many states have closed primaries could be argued as anti-democratic and skirting the rules actually makes it more democratic. In some cities, you have no voice in the mayoral election unless you are registered Democrat.
    – JoelFan
    Commented Jan 4 at 11:07
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    @JoelFan sabotaging another party doesn't sound very democratic to me.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Jan 4 at 11:08
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    There are reasons to vote in "the other party's" primary other than sabotage. In fact, you could do it in a way that's arguably the opposite of sabotage: voting for a more moderate candidate, in the hope that you're able to bring the party closer to the center so that in the case that your preferred candidate doesn't win in the general election, the person who does win is a bit closer to your liking (and probably the liking of many of the other voters who voted for the losing candidate). Seen in that light, it's not an act of sabotage but a building of consensus.
    – yshavit
    Commented Jan 4 at 18:37

3 Answers 3


Joe W's answer is a good frame challenge that refutes the question's premise (i.e. that the Democrats aren't holding primaries), but I'd like to focus on the question itself:

why hasn't there been a campaign [...] to get Democrat voters to vote in the Republican primary and vote Trump out?

Firstly, and most importantly, this isn't possible in most states. Per Wikipedia, only 14 states have "open primaries" in which registered Democrats can vote in the Republican primary (and vice versa). 16 others allow unaffiliated voters to vote in whichever primary they like, though I assume they would no longer be considered "unaffiliated" afterwards, and thus the trick would only work once per voter.

Secondly - and this brings me on to one of your other questions -

why doesn't this happen at every election? Why wouldn't the opposition primary be largely influenced by voters from both parties?

...it has been tried in the past, and it didn't work. Again, quoting Wikipedia, which calls the practice "party raiding":

A notable example of attempted party raiding was Operation Chaos in the Democratic primary in 2008, when Rush Limbaugh encouraged Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in an effort to weaken Barack Obama politically. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful. Another occurred in the 2012 Republican primaries, where many Democratic voters in Michigan voted for weaker GOP candidate Rick Santorum over front-runner Mitt Romney in order to disrupt his campaign. This attempt was also unsuccessful.

I expect that the number of opposition-party voters willing and able to go through with the raid simply wasn't enough to make a difference, and given that Trump is consistently polling about 50 percentage points higher than any other Republican candidate, the chances of a party raid against him being successful are practically nil.

Thirdly, as JMS stated, Trump (despite his popularity within the Republican Party) is hardly the most appealing candidate himself, and has already lost to Biden once before. It's likely that many Democrats want him to win the nomination in the belief that, in a presidential shootout between Trump and Biden, Biden will win just as he did in 2020.

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    It seems unlikely, but the possibility of the Republican candidate not being eligible to run would seem like an advantage for Democrats, even in safe states where it would help in down-ballot races.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Jan 3 at 22:06
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    It's possible, even in the 22 States with closed primaries, because voters can easily switch registration. It just requires some planning. (Also, this doesn't really affect the answer, but unaffiliated voters remain unaffiliated even after they choose to vote in a partisan primary, because that choice doesn't affect their registration. But even if it did, they could unaffiliate again.) Commented Jan 4 at 6:31
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    Good answer, maybe add one further point: Voting against Trump in the primaries might backfire. If this gets noticed (and with the number of votes required, it will be noticed), it is fodder for his propaganda machine, likely rallying the Republicans around him. So, even if they are successful in one or two states, they will be outvoted in the following primaries.
    – Chieron
    Commented Jan 4 at 8:58
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    @Pollman, in states with "closed primaries", unaffiliated voters are not allowed to vote in any primaries.
    – JoelFan
    Commented Jan 4 at 11:12
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    Agree with @TobyBartels, an affiliated voter can typically change their affiliation as frequently as they want, in some cases they just can't do it very close to the primary itself. I don't think there's anything in any state that prevents a registered Democrat from re-registering as a Republican, voting in the R primary, and then switching their registration back to D. I disagree with the bolded statement that "this isn't possible in most states" - it would be very strange for a voter to be unable to change which party they affiliate with! Commented Jan 4 at 13:34


Given there is no primary on the democratic side, there isn't there a push to get Democrat voters to vote Trump out in the primary?

Short Answer

Because the Democrats like their chances against former President Trump.


There is an old political axiom: When your opponent is shooting himself in the foot, don't interfere. Given that truism, why would the Democrats obstruct Trump from getting the Republican nomination? Trump is pretty much their ideal opposition candidate:

  • A legally defined sex predator / rapist
  • 3 courts have now found President Trump engaged in insurrection
  • Betrayed his oath of office
  • out on bail currently in 3 different jurisdictions not related to the ones previously mentioned
  • currently facing around 100 felony charges
  • likes to quote Adolf Hitler (vermin indeed)
  • confuses President Biden and President Obama during rallies
  • won't be able to campaign in April or March because he will be in court every day
  • independents hate him
  • a sizeable number of Republicans hate him (not the majority)
  • 60% disapproval rating (folks who strongly object to him and folks who won't consider voting for him)
  • will probably be convicted of at least one felony before the general election
  • may even be in prison in Nov 2024 or shortly thereafter.

While the Republicans have underperformed in every election cycle since President Trump won in 2016, probably the single biggest issue in 2024 will be the same issue which was most responsible for Republicans underperforming in 2022 interim elections. Dobbs vs Jackson. For decades, abortion rights were a great republican wedge issue. It spoke to social Conservatives, and social liberals didn't vote the issue as strongly because Roe vs Wade was established law. Now that it has been overturned it has become a very important motivating issue for women, even women who traditionally vote Republican. The Dems have video of President Trump taking credit for overturning it. It's an albatross around the necks of the Republican party in general and Donald Trump specifically and probably will be the single biggest issue in the 2024 campaign. The GOP has a lot of systemic issues at this point.

When President Trump narrowly won the 2016 election a lot of pundits said Hillary Clinton was the only candidate he could have defeated. I think the Democrats and President Biden are very happy to run against former President Trump. Their nightmare would be to run against a younger candidate with less baggage.

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    Every one of your bullet points make Trump more appealing, not less, for many voters. They are spun as evidence of Democrat election-stealing tactics, which makes voters more motivated to "fight back".
    – JoelFan
    Commented Jan 4 at 11:15
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    @JoelFan The key point there, is that Trump's legal issues make him more attractive to people who are already highly likely to vote for him, and un-attractive to people who were already unlikely to vote for him, so the question is how he appears to 'floating voters' - my guess would be that they would mostly disapprove.
    – MikeB
    Commented Jan 4 at 11:59
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    The polls seem to disagree: Trump is the only Republican candidate who polls higher than, or at least equally to, Biden. Both DeSantis and Haley are behind against Biden. While this is a feel-good post about bashing Trump, its underlying premise doesn't hold.
    – Riwen
    Commented Jan 4 at 14:46
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    @Riwen, If you check with RealClearPolitics which tracks individual polls presidential generals and primaries; and provides an average poll based on recent poll results. Biden is up modestly against Trump currently, at least last time I checked. Both Desantus and Haley were up against Biden in the composite polls not sure by how much. As I said though, I don't think polls are meaningful this early in the election cycle. Both Clinton and Obama who eventually won significantly were down at this stage in their second election cycles.
    – JMS
    Commented Jan 4 at 14:55
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    "won't be able to campaign in April or March" It's not looking good for the planned March court date, because of the case over his immunity.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 4 at 15:06

It is incorrect that there is no Democratic primary for the upcoming 2024 presidential election as there is still at least two people running against Biden in the primary election.

More importantly if voters switched parties to vote in the Republican primary to vote against Trump they would no longer be eligible to vote for any of the other offices in the Democratic primary. While it is true that the race for primary is not in jeopardy of changing there are many other down ballot races that the voters will need to vote on in the same ballot.

538 poll

The latest poll puts Biden at 74%, Williamson at 9% and Philips at 2%

Wikipedia also has this information and lists 3 people in the race as of now

2024 Democratic Party presidential primaries

Also there is no call to not have the primary elections either.

2024 election dates to know: Joe Biden, Donald Trump and other White House hopefuls face off

This is a list of upcoming primary dates which includes Democrat ones.

  • 5
    Sure there is a primary. But at this point it's a mere formality. No incumbent has ever lost a primary and this year as you noted none of the candidates are even close. So its still worth asking the question, why would any democratic voter vote in the democratic primary when their vote would have more effect in the Republican one.
    – Pollman
    Commented Jan 3 at 14:31
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    @Pollman Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean that it won't happen in the future. Not to mention that the amount of support he gets in the primary can impact how voters from other parties see him in the general election and if they decide to support him or not. But overall the fact remains that there are multiple primary challengers which makes the premise of no primary for the party false and just because it is unlikely that he will lose doesn't mean that they want to put it to chance.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 3 at 14:35

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