Donald Trump’s 2024 bid won’t be a cake walk
Former US President Donald Trump announced his third consecutive presidential bid on Tuesday night at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. His announcement to run in 2024 was long-winded, jam-packed with details about his first term, and raised questions about whether or not the former insurrection fomenter can get across the finish line in two years.
For starters, Trump made clear that this isn’t his campaign but a mass movement built by average people. He touched heavily on the economy and sky-high inflation that is eating away at average Americans’ buying power. Along with that, he noted how many of the economic problems seen today weren’t a thing when he was in the White House – and he rallied his base by drawing attention to the strong borders under his leadership, his supposed ability to maintain international peace, and his policies on terrorism.
But, in typical Trump fashion, there were a lot of baseless claims. For instance, he said that President Joe Biden left behind $85 billion in military equipment during the retreat from Afghanistan. There was no basis for this figure, in reality. He also falsely took credit for America’s energy independence, that he was the only president to tariff Chinese goods, and he also completely mangled information about climate change. Still, the speech was strong enough to rally his sub-sector of the Republican base.
At the same time, there’s evidence that his slice of that voting bloc could be waning. Amid what will likely be another crowded field of Republican nominees, Trump could be on his back foot after his endorsed midterm candidates lost key gubernatorial elections, as well as Senate and House races. In all, Republicans managed to come away with the House of Representatives even though they were projected to do way better. That the GOP underperformed during the 2022 elections might be an understatement.
Trump looks to face some tough opponents, including perhaps his former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, most importantly, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The first two have positioned themselves over the decades to make a presidential bid with or without Trump in the picture. But DeSantis is something of a rising star who combines the advantages of MAGA populism without the baggage and drama of The Donald.
Polls currently indicate that the former president is still the most favored candidate among Republican voters. But DeSantis has been chipping away at his lead and gained seven percentage points in a recent Morning Consult/Politico survey after the midterm elections. The Florida leader now sits at 33% support among Republican voters and won his own re-election by nearly 20 points, with still two years to go until the presidential election. On top of this, while there was no national ‘red wave’, there certainly was one in Florida, where DeSantis headed the ticket.
Again, a major focal point of DeSantis is that he is every bit as populist, anti-woke and right-wing as Donald Trump. The only difference is that he isn’t a hair-trigger on social media. A lot of Republicans like their former president but just wish he didn’t act so erratically in public – which is perhaps evident by the fact that he even dished out criticism to the Florida governor after last week’s election. Pretty much anyone in the vicinity of Trump has taken some collateral damage at some point.
If we assume that Trump wins the nomination for the GOP in 2024, we have to consider his odds of beating the Democrats for the White House. A lot of Trump’s speech focused on the Biden administration’s policies even if it did give marginal lip service to the “far left.” That might not be a good strategy, however, given that Biden, who will be 80 years old this month, is not assured to run again. He has said that he intends to, but that the final decision would be made early next year after consultations with his family.
It’s actually hard to tell who might run at this juncture. The most likely Democratic nominee besides Biden would have been Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, except that he is 81. That leaves Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who lacks any charisma whatsoever, and Vice President Kamala Harris. For her part, the vice president matches Biden’s 53-odd percent disapproval rating.
If Harris can reasonably distance herself from Biden, while also staying true to some progressive tenets, then she might be able to boost herself in the polls over the next two years. But that really depends on the economic situation until 2024, given that this has been the main animating issue for voters of late. And in order for Trump to counteract this, he needs to articulate a clear economic plan that goes beyond cutting spending and taxes. He needs to actually have a plan, which Republicans lack at this point
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.