Tshidi Madia18 March 2024 | 7:25

TSHIDI MADIA: US elections 2024 - Trump, the great divide

The emergence of Donald Trump as the frontrunner for the Republican Party ahead of the United States presidential elections later this year has thrown the country into uncharted waters, as the former president seeks to return to the White House while fighting off multiple legal battles.

TSHIDI MADIA: US elections 2024 - Trump, the great divide

Former US President and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump raises his fist at a “Commit to Caucus” event at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, on 14 January 2024. Picture: Christian MONTERROSA/AFP

NEVADA - The emergence of Donald Trump as the frontrunner for the Republican Party ahead of the United States presidential elections later this year has thrown the country into uncharted waters, as the former president seeks to return to the White House while fighting off multiple legal battles.

“The difference between Trump in 2016 and Trump in 2024, if he’s to win, is he will be much better organised. [In] 2016 they didn’t expect to win, so he had no plan for what they were doing; they were kind of throwing things out there that didn’t work," said University of Nevada’s Professor David Damore when asked what a Trump 2.0 presidency would look like.

"They sounded good and so on and so forth, now they are going to be much more engaged. And the other thing is that he’s not going to pick establishment people - he learnt that lesson,” Damore added.

It is this very fear that Eyewitness News found when meeting with different communities, businesses, associations, and some residents in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Eyewitness News is currently on a tour with the U.S. foreign press centre to some of the crucial states ahead of the November presidential elections.


Based on party nominations, it already looks like the superpower is headed for yet another showdown between Trump and current president Joe Biden, except the latter has also left citizens frustrated over a series of empty promises, with some having grown apathetic towards voting, while others are confused about who to back when the country votes.

“This election for them is just as apocalyptic as it is for us, cause they believe this is their last chance for middle-class, working-class white Americans; this is the last elections that could mean something to them,” said Chris Charles Scott, a local documentary and filmmaker who relocated to Nevada while working on former President Barack Obama’s campaign.

Nevada is defined as a purple state, which could swing either way, with it often backing the democratic candidate.

The home to “Sin City,” as Vegas is known, has also been described as the most reflective of what “true America” looks like, with a growing Hispanic population, an upwardly mobile black community, and an even bigger bloc of working-class Americans.

Nevada also comes with a long history of being able to predict the overall election results.

“Outside of 2016, we went for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump won the presidency. In 1976, Jimmy Carter wins the presidency, Nevada went for Gerald Ford here. Nevada had elected and voted for the winning presidential candidate in every single presidential election since 1908, so we've been a pretty good barometer of how the country's gone since that,” explained Damore.


Scott’s views are echoed by many throughout the desert state, with some of the concerns residents have raised centring around the high cost of fuel, rent and food.

Immigration and reproductive rights are also a major talking point, with some sharing their fears over a more “draconian” approach should Trump return to office.

This is a topic that features prominently in meetings held by an open forum called Make the Road Nevada, which focuses on the Latino community’s issues and projects.

This is where 34-year-old Maria Wagner is currently mulling over what to do come election season. She said while it seemed easy to pick Biden, his administration failed to move fast enough to address concerns around migration.

“He promised us immigration reform during his campaign. We were used, as always, in every election we are used as a piece of conversation, and up until now, we don’t have that immigration reform,” she said.

Her dilemma, however, is that not everyone in her community can vote, putting pressure on those like Wagner who can do so as a way of putting their respective issues on the nation’s agenda.

Trump almost feels like a boogeyman, as far as the Clark County black caucus and the unions are concerned, the largest of which, the Culinary Union, showing clear disdain for the former president.

“In his four years of office, Trump had a very chaotic reign… we woke up wondering what he would tweet, what he would say and the impact it would have on us, and every day was like a battle,” said Bethany Khan, the Culinary Union’s spokesperson.

In one of the rooms at the union’s offices lies a poster defining Trump as dangerous, divisive, and anti-union.

While Biden is a clear pick for the workers in Nevada, he’s also posed a conflict for democrats over his handling of the Middle East conflict.

This union itself has come out in defence of the people of Palestine.

“We are committed to deep engagement, building solidarity and unity, and we, the Culinary Union, have called for a ceasefire and the release of the hostages. Our commitment is to just and lasting solutions,” she said.

These sentiments are echoed across several communities, on the back of reports that Biden is frustrated and anxious about the presidential run-offs.


Some commentators have said he has every right to be, with polls suggesting he might lose to a candidate like Trump, who has not only been disgraced but is also fighting a series of legal battles.

Trump’s campaign has managed to turn some of his court challenges into a political strategy, arguing that it’s a bid to keep him out of office.


While it’s accepted that Trump will be more aggressive than the incumbent when it comes to Israel, Biden is likely to be punished by his supporters over unfulfilled promises, and his handling of the Middle East conflict.

“They like what he’s done with trying to eradicate student loan debt, they love his stance on identity politics, he gets a passing grade on all the core progressive modern-day issues, but then when it comes to what’s happening in Gaza, it doesn’t matter the other checklist, they are only concerned about this,” said Scott of fellow black voters opposed to the US favouring its ally Israel in the conflict.

Scott believes there are people who would leave Biden over the issue.

“There’s no full reflective thinking on what the long-term goal is. We are just mad at someone and want to punish someone, and that person is going to be Biden,” he observed.

Most democrats who spoke to Eyewitness News strongly suggested their democracy too was on the ballot, a view rubbished by some Republicans, who are strongly demanding change they believe can only be brought on by Trump.

Arguments in favour of the populist politician are tied to US inflation woes, with some suggesting the economy will only work to benefit the majority if he’s back at the helm.

Byron Brooks, a former member of the military who served in the Gulf War, is one of those hoping Nevada could shift its purple status to the benefit of the Republicans. He is registered with the more conservative party and said he did not feel the country’s democracy was at stake.

“I don’t share those same sentiments, I just simply don’t… I don't know what to say past that, I just simply don’t. I am looking forward to a change. As I take a look at foreign policy and things that are happening, I think it's time for a change,” said Brooks.

Over the past weekend while at a rally in Ohio, Trump praised those serving jail sentences for the January 8 riots in the Capitol, while also describing some migrants as not being human.

The former president went as far as warning there would be a bloodbath if he is not re-elected in November.