The next presidential campaign is coming into focus. It might look a lot like the last one.

The end of Labor Day weekend would typically mark the start of a furious sprint to the Iowa caucuses as candidates battle for their party’s presidential nomination. But as the 2024 campaign comes into greater focus, the usual frenzy is yielding to a sense of inevitability.

Among Republicans, Donald Trump is dominating the primary field, outpacing rivals with resumes as governors, diplomats and entrepreneurs that would normally prove compelling. The former president’s position strength comes despite — or perhaps because of — multiple criminal indictments that threaten to overshadow any serious debate about the future of the country. And for now, the tens of millions of dollars that Republican rivals are pouring into the race are doing little to diminish Trump’s stature, fueling concerns among his GOP critics who fear the primary is essentially over before it begins.

As one troubled front-runner tightens his grip on the Republican nomination, President Joe Biden is on a glide path to victory on the Democratic side. The 80-year-old incumbent is facing only token opposition for the Democratic nomination despite concerns about his age and performance from many within his own party.

Whether voters like it or not, a Trump-Biden rematch may be on the horizon, raising the prospect of a deeply uncertain election season that only intensifies the nation’s political divide. Already, Trump is skipping his party’s presidential debates and his court appearances are sometimes drawing more attention than his campaign stops. And Biden has barely begun to campaign as he grapples with questions about his age and his son’s legal challenges.

“I just can’t imagine things markedly changing. So, it appears that past is prologue,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in an interview, praising Biden’s record of achievement while warning his party against underestimating Trump’s political strength.

Newsom said concerns about Biden’s age “are fair game and the White House knows it.”

”But if age equals results,” he went on, “I’m looking forward to his 85th birthday.”

On the Republican side, dread is building among some donors and party leaders who hoped conservative voters would move past Trump given the the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol he inspired and his serious legal challenges.

“A Trump-Biden rematch would be a disaster for the country. I’m very depressed about it,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a prominent Republican donor who is supporting former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. She said it’s “scary” that so many voters in her party continue to support the former president. ”I refuse to believe that Trump is our inevitable nominee.”

There is time for the 2024 landscape to shift.

Four months remain before the first votes are cast in the Iowa caucuses and the general election is more than a year away. And recent history has plenty of examples of overlooked and seemingly overmatched candidates who proved the conventional wisdom wrong. Both Trump and Biden are among them.

There are also significant variables.

Abortion continues to scramble elections — even in GOP strongholds like Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio — as voters reject Republican efforts to restrict access to the procedure. A greater backlash is possible as the courts review access to a commonly used abortion pill.

And Trump is facing 91 felony charges in criminal proceedings unfolding in Washington, New York, Miami and Atlanta. They involve everything from his handling of classified information to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election to orchestrating hush money payments to a porn actor.

The former president could be a convicted felon before the general election is decided next November. Still, party leaders — including most of his Republican primary opponents — have vowed to support him even if he’s convicted. And nothing in the Constitution bars felons from assuming the presidency.

At the same time, Democratic officials are deeply concerned about the prospect of a third-party bid under the banner of No Labels, a centrist group backed by a $70 million budget actively working to secure a place on the presidential ballot in at least 20 states this year.

Group leaders insist they would nominate a candidate next spring only as “an insurance policy” should Trump and Biden win their respective primaries, which appears increasingly likely. And then, No Labels would move forward only if it’s certain that its presidential nominee wouldn’t unintentionally help Trump win reelection.

Democratic leaders aren’t convinced.

Several current and former elected officials have been in close contact with the organization, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

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