IT’S Joe Biden’s 80th birthday today. It’s a fair bet that the US president will pause and wonder what lies ahead for him in the coming year – not least whether he will run again in 2024.

His Republican nemesis Donald Trump has already made clear his own intention of launching his third bid for the White House, declaring that “America’s comeback starts right now”, and claiming: “Your country is being destroyed before your eyes.”

Such words hearken back to Trump’s inauguration speech of a country suffering “American carnage” and in need of him to fix it.

But behind this usual Trump swagger, troubles loom large for the former president. Troubles so large, in fact, that many US political pundits say the Democrats would like nothing better than for Trump to be the Republican 2024 presidential nominee.

Their reasoning is simple enough, based as it is on the notion that his name would all but ensure another Republican defeat.

It’s now seven years since Trump rode a golden escalator down the atrium of New York’s Trump Tower and declared he was running for US president, but in the intervening years a lot has changed on the American political landscape, as it has for Trump himself.

The most recent evidence of this has been the midterm elections in which Trump was expected to be surfing a red wave of Republican success. But nothing could be further from the truth after his own hand-picked candidates lost nearly all the key Senate or gubernatorial races they contested.

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The simple inescapable fact is that Trump is now politically toxic in terms of election success and many of his fellow Republicans, while perhaps not yet openly saying it, must certainly think it.

While few would deny that the man who wanted to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) still has immense strength as a presidential candidate – not least an unwavering grassroots support among the US electorate – things this time around will be much harder. There are a number of reasons for this, not least Trump’s past record.

Many within the Republican ranks will remember his inability to repeal Democratic healthcare reforms and his repeated promises of infrastructure investment that never happened. Many Americans, too, remain angry over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. And then there is that not-so-little issue of Trump having proved he is a danger to democracy.

His role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has been laid bare by the committee investigating those events, which has presented persuasive evidence of a broad-ranging plan by Trump and allies to overturn the 2020 election results by whatever means, including violence.

If the midterms revealed anything, they showed that what happened that day back in January 2021 and Trump’s words and actions leading up to it, has left many American voters still wary of his intentions.

Then there are Trump’s multiple legal problems. Among these are the US Department of Justice criminal investigation of him for retaining government records, including some marked as classified, after leaving office in January 2021.

There is also the New York Attorney General civil lawsuit filed in September that uncovered more than 200 examples of misleading asset valuations by Trump and the Trump Organisation between 2011 and 2021.

Add to this the Trump organisation being on trial on New York tax fraud charges, in a criminal case brought by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg; a defamation case brought by E Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine writer; and a Georgia election tampering probe, and you get some idea of Trump’s legal woes.

Problematic as all of these are, it is of course that investigation into the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack that hangs like a political “Sword of Damocles” over Trump’s latest presidential bid.

With news this weekend that Merrick Garland, the US attorney general, has appointed veteran prosecutor Jack Smith to determine whether Trump should face criminal charges, the former president typically seized on the issue as a rallying cry for his 2024 White House bid.

As the Washington Post summed up the stand-off, “rather than a contest over policy or the direction of the country, Trump’s anger at the investigations of his conduct have framed the first arguments of the race as a debate over his own behaviour and the response of federal investigators”.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that many Republicans now see Trump as an election liability.