Trump Remains Odds-On Favorite for 2024 Republican Nomination
As tired as we may be of him, his nominating electorate appears ready for another round.
Josh Kraushaar at Axios (“Trump’s February bump“):
After a shaky start to his presidential campaign, Trump has quietly found his footing over the last month.
His visit to the derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio — ahead of President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — showed off a touch of empathy, at least by Trump standards.
The former president got out of his mega-rally comfort zone in favor of several small campaign stops for ice cream in South Carolina and McDonald’s in Ohio, where his impromptu visits were well-received by the restaurant staff.
Ah, the old McDonald’s Restaurant Staff Barometer. It’s right up there with Punxsutawney Phil’s Shadow and the Dixville Notch Midnight Vote in its predictive power.
A new Emerson poll found Trump with a 30-point lead (55%-25%) against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — up from a 26-point lead (55%-29%) over DeSantis in Emerson’s January survey.
- Trump wins a whopping 72% support among Republicans with a high school degree or less.
- Emerson’s poll also found Trump leading Biden, 46%-42%. DeSantis trailed Biden, 44%-40%.
Okay, that’s fairly convincing. Still, it’s just one poll.
The findings in the Emerson poll, which has lately been favorable to Trump, were matched by three other top pollsters.
- A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll has Trump opening up an 8-point lead on DeSantis (47%-39%), after DeSantis led the former president by 4 in the pollster’s previous survey at the beginning of February.
- The GOP polling firm Echelon Insights found Trump leading DeSantis by 15 points (46%-31%) on a national ballot test. Last month, the pollster found Trump only leading DeSantis by 2 points (36%-34%).
- Fox News’ first presidential primary poll, testing the GOP presidential ballot, found Trump leading DeSantis by 15 points (43%-28%).
Well, shit. That’s starting to look like a trend.
Even as Trump appears to be the clear Republican front-runner, with a committed base of at least one-quarter of the GOP electorate, his rivals are holding their fire against him.
- Nikki Haley only mentioned his name once in her kickoff address. DeSantis has studiously avoided responding to his social media attacks.
- Trump is also maintaining significant support even as his campaign events aren’t drawing remotely the same wall-to-wall coverage as they did during his presidency (or during the 2016 campaign).
That’s actually not an “even” so much as an “and,” no? Presumably, Haley and DeSantis would be working hard to take down Trump if they thought they were serious contenders to unseat him for the nomination?
The bottom line: The beginning of the 2024 campaign is feeling similar to the 2016 race, when Trump’s GOP rivals assumed he would automatically fade without them doing anything to stunt his momentum.
Actually, not quite.
Trump announced his 2016 run on June 16, 2015. It actually took him awhile to rise to the top of the pack, let alone become the prohibitive favorite. Here are the RealClearPolitics polling trendlines:
While none of them wound up being at all formidable, it seemed perfectly reasonable in the summer of 2015 to think that Jeb Bush, Marcio Rubio, or Ted Cruz could win the nomination. There are no comparable alternatives this cycle.
Looking inside the YahooNews/YouGov poll is even more depressing:
Granting that we’re almost a year away from the first votes being cast, there are only two viable candidates right now. While I would very much prefer that the Republicans nominate a Larry Hogan or Liz Cheney, that’s certainly not going to happen. But even a more MAGA-friendly “normal” Republican like Glenn Youngkin, who seemed like a plausible candidate when he won the Virginia governor’s race in 2021, is currently a non-entity on the national scene.
Josh Marshall (“Ignore the Noise. It’s Still Trump’s Nomination to Lose“) is similarly resigned:
It’s true that this is very early in the primary process. The field is incomplete. But that matters much less than it normally would. Everybody knows who Trump is, what he represents and what kind of president he would be. Because of this, the question at the heart of the primary is clear and unlikely to change: Trump or not? The answer to that question could change. But the question is very unlikely to do so.
What could change the answer? The most obvious thing would be serious indictments which change perception of the man or, more concretely, raise the possibility that he’ll be in prison by January 2025. For a conventional politician that would be the end. But given who Trump is and the dynamics of today’s Republican Party, it seems at least as likely that indictments would make it even harder for any Republican to criticize him. His faux-martyrdom is likely to make him untouchable. Rivals intent on tearing him down would be forced in spite of themselves to defend him. If they’re not defending him as such they’d be forced to attack his purported persecutors, which amounts to the same thing.
He is diminished, wounded, weaker, older. But he still dominates the GOP, not unlike the over-mighty warlord who deeply divided the GOP but could not be dislodged and won the party nomination on that basis in 2016. I know the contrary arguments and in themselves they make a certain sense. But nothing we’re seeing suggests any dynamic that would change this equation.
I’m almost certainly voting for the Democratic nominee in 2024 even if a non-Trump somehow wins the Republican nomination. Presuming President Biden remains healthy, he’d presumably welcome a rematch against the guy he beat by 8 million votes. But, given that the combination of a binary choice and the Electoral College serving to skew the outcome in that direction, it would be awfully nice to have two sane, pro-America candidates heading up the national tickets.
It’s been apparent for years that, far from leading the Republican Party in a new direction, Trump is simply an obnoxious embodiment of what the party has become. This doesn’t mean the majority of Republican base voters are nasty snarling bigots eager for a leader in that vein. In any party, only about 15-30% are actively involved in the selection process and the remainder will go along with what that motivated minority decide. And that minority is overwhelmingly nasty and bigoted and has pushed any party activist or leader that opposes them out. Put simply, we have Trump and Trump-wannabes as the only viable option because they reflect the values of the Republican base voters. The state of the Republican Party isn’t the fault of Trump, but rather the uplifting of Trump is due to the state of the Republican Party base.
Good lord. Will people never learn?
This says absolutely nothing good about Republican voters.
I don’t understand why this loser wants to keep on losing, but….okay.
I don’t see how this is any better, frankly. They’re just as guilty.
@Tony W: He wants the cash he can raise by selling crap to the masses.
The rest are just the sort of people willing to go along with nasty snarling bigots for money, which is frankly in some ways even worse.
Like it or not, Donald Trump is still the fuhrer of the brownshirts. The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Christian nationalists, etc. still represent the threat of violence. As long as Trump controls them, he must be dealt with. Fascist revolutions work when a substantial number of the wealthiest people in the country work with a violent minority to intimidate the rest of the population into compliance. In both Italy and Germany, the fascists were never in the majority until their power was complete. For Ron DeSantis to have his place in this picture, he needs to dethrone Trump and become the new fuhrer. He may succeed. I’m guessing that J Birch Society types see Trump as too crazy to trust to follow his orders, unlike DeSantis, who is much more comfortable in the role of a fascist tool.
@Mikey: Well, that’s the age old question, isn’t it? Are those that go along with injustice just as guilty as those who perpetrate it?
Yep. But I’m an optimistic pessimist. Given that most people just accept the way things are (and 100% of other animals do so) I am astounded that we have advanced ethically as far as we have. For example, up until just a mere 100 years ago the Right of Conquest was accepted, as it had been in virtually all societies since before the dawn of time. Think about all those “heroes” that, however mythological, were celebrated in virtually every culture in the world. What were they celebrated for? Strapping on weapons and going out and killing the “others” and taking their stuff.
So the pessimist in me sees that our ethical values are hopelessly opposed to our animal nature, but the optimist in me says, “Damn, sometimes we actually pull ourselves out of the muck a bit.”
Trump will win the primary, and lose the general. In which case, we’ll be treated to nonstop squalling and ranting about stolen elections.
Trump will run third party–the MAGA Party–and lose the general. In which case, we’ll be treated to nonstop squalling and ranting about stolen elections.
@CSK: You’re correct of course, but what I can’t wrap my mind around is how are people not tired of this shtick by now? I know I’m exhausted by it.
It’s possible that the ones who have tired of it–Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike–have simply tuned out Trump, because frankly, what else can you do? He’s not going to shut up till he dies, and even then the MAGAs will be shrieking about an assassination on the part of the Depp State.
As for the true Trump worshippers, they get more and more committed to him all the time.
Did someone die and make you Hari Seldon? 😉
I’d like nothing better than for Benito to run third party, especially if he so vitriolically attacks Republicans they take heavy losses in the House and Senate.
But reality takes no heed of human wishes.
I enjoyed these couple of paragraphs from an op-ed by Michael Arceneaux entitled “Ron DeSantis Is On A Mission To Make Florida Dumb, And It’s Spreading;”
What puzzles me is how inept Trump’s opponents have been. Were I advising a campaign against him, I would do obvious things. For example, at every Trump rally, I’d have a Trump little boy dummy, with his pants on fire. (Those bringing the dummy would need some protection.)
And I would run TV commercials telling the stories of individuals who had followed Trump and lost money, their health, or even their freedom. One such commercial did terrible damage to Mitt Romney in the 2016 campaign. (As I recall, it was at best misleading, but it worked.)
And I would call him a loser, which he is, over and over.
That said, I am moderately hopeful Trump will not be nominated, much less elected. His legal problems are probably one of the reasons he is running; the stream of news stories about them has already eroded his standing among Republicans, and I think will continue to do so.
The problem with Trump running third party and losing is that he won’t STFU afterward, just as if he ran as the R nominee and lost.
The GOP is int he same position it was in 2016. No one will really want to go hard after Trump for fear of losing his voters. Trump doesnt have that problem and can go after anyone else with total abandon (meaning lying and making up stuff when convenient) and his fans love that. He has a committed core that wont change regardless of what happens. He will be the GOP nominee so might as well plan for it.
@Fog:..Fascist revolutions work when a substantial number of the wealthiest people in the country work with a violent minority to intimidate the rest of the population into compliance.
Do they know he’s lying and love it, or do they believe his lies? I realize it doesn’t matter ultimately, but I’m just curious.
If they know he lies, why do they believe him when he says he cares about them?
Speaking of peddling crap…
Jared Kushner claims that Trump made 80k a day back in 2016 selling MAGA hats. It must be impossible for him to quit that kind of scam.
Seems meaningful that no one in the OP nor comments has suggested that Mr Trump might be detained, shall we say.
Leaves me wondering if opinion is pretty much fixed that he’s likely to avoid indictment?
I think he’s certain to be indicted on one charge at least and that will make him unbeatable in a smaller R party.
I’ve maintained for some time that many, maybe even most MAGAts know it’s all lies. And I’ll repeat the obvious parallel: their religious ‘beliefs.’ A great many people in this world choose self-deception, and being aware of the fragility of their beliefs, they attack anyone with a different view.
But do they know it’s a lie when he tells them that he’s the only one who’s on their side and loves America?
They may be afraid that if they indict Trump, there will be a rerun of January 6, only on a larger scale.
“he MAGAs will be shrieking about an assassination on the part of the Depp State”
They should have known not to trust Johnny.
I know. I couldn’t get the edit function, curse it.
Laura Loomis and other Trump supporters asked to leave DeSantis book signing
When Trump hears about this and starts intentionally sending Trump supporters to other DeSantis events, the 2024 “primary” will be over before it starts.
@CSK: Some years ago I read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, which is regarded as one of the foundational books of modern conservatism. It was actually quite revelatory. The revelation was that there was no there there. It was largely repetition of the same chapter – X was the only thinker of his generation to understand the great truth. But Kirk never said, nor quoted X as saying, what the great truth was. Reading between the lines, the great truth was that everyone must believe. What everyone must believe is less important than that everyone believe. He never quite said it, because if he did he’d have to say something about how everyone might be made to believe.
@JohnMc: Unindicted was my take from day one of investigations. The system was designed to be one where the inmates ran a separate and internal justice system for “their own.”
That’s exactly what will happen. Trump will say something derogstory about DeSantis’s book, and the Trumpkins will take that as license to “burn it all down,” so to speak. Trump, of course, will deny he egged them on to riot.
@CSK: They don’t care that it’s a lie. It’s the same lie they believe. These are the same people who agree with Glenn Beck that it would be better for the nation if they could find common ground with people who want to make the nation better–if only such people existed. Instead, they’re surrounded by people like you (and me) who want only to destroy the nation.
Interesting, because Kirk’s principal influencers were said to be Tolkien, Burke, C. S. Lewis, and T. S. Eliot.
I hope so.
The Florida Man, unlike Benito, seems neither stupid, lazy, nor incompetent. He’d be far more dangerous in the White House, and maybe more likely to win if, say, there’s a recession by 2024.
But they’re not just going along. They’re also perpetuating it, just quietly. They’ll vote for him, they’ll donate, they’re fine with his snarling bigotry.
They’re not just enablers, they are actively assisting.
@CSK: Yes, and those august folks we self-aware of trying to build a way to have a spiritual inner life altho living in a commercial, industrial Era. So belief for the sake of believing is not bullseye but is on the target.
@CSK: Oops, that was supposed to be in reply to Reynolds comment just above yours. I was seconding and expanding on his view that religion is the root of irrational belief, which is the root of conservatism.
Crucial point. No, I think they do believe that. Cult leaders are beyond good and evil, beyond truth, creating their own reality. But I think they know he lost, I think they know he’s a crook, and a traitor. But as long as he can feed them red meat they’ll gorge.
It was interesting even if not directed at me. 🙂
@JohnMc: WAPO this morning on the reluctance of some of the FBI to raid Mar a Lago. Trump is running to shield himself from prosecution. It may well work.
The prosecutors wanted to get a warrant and go get the government’s stuff back. The agents asked if Trump was the target of the investigation. A prosecutor replied asking what difference that made. Isn’t that pretty much a sine qua non of the rule of law.
Ah well, as I commented to WAPO, it’s comforting to have some verities. Parts of the FBI are still the same proto-fascist assholes they were in my youth.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
I would say that it’s not so much not caring that it’s a lie as believing it’s true.
Agreed, in general. But there still seem to be people who genuinely believe Trump’s not just the best prez we’ve ever had, but a faithful husband, a loving father, and a devout Christian.
@Michael Reynolds: A liberal weakness, but inherent, is that we want to be right. They just want to win.
Standard path to power for authoritarians/totalitarians etc. is to get people thinking truth is unknowable, they all lie. Meanwhile, we have conservatism inc. persuading the faithful that the MSM, NYT, WashPo, CNN can not be trusted, contain too many lies.
The consequence is most modern Republicans figure they all lie, so they feel better listening only their side, they would rather be lied to by their own side.
They do not care whether they are being lied to by Fox, DJT, DeSantis, Kari Lake or whoever – they just listen to Team Red and take their chances.
It takes a lot of intellectual gymnastics to call the Bible “inerrant.”
@Michael Reynolds: There’s no monolithic nature of believing in religion. You have those who believe it literally, those who believe there are a lot of metaphorical stories that show us how to live a godly life, those who believe that embracing the metaphors reveals a higher truth, etc.
Is it like a religious belief? Sure, but only because religious belief runs a massive gamut that encapsulates basically every way a human being can believe.
And yes, that’s even going to get close to the scientific method, as people discover that prayer — the act of praying, rather than the contents of the prayer— calms the mind and gives them the ability to change their lives (placebo, effect of delusion, etc). It lacks the jump from anecdotal evidence to large scale studies with control groups, but that level of rigor is far more the exception in human experiences than the rule.
“It’s like a religious belief” just isn’t a meaningful statement.
The headline pretty much tells you what the article says:
Exactly how does he plan to avenge himself?
Can you come along and define religion so broadly that references to it become meaningless? Sure. But I’m not talking philosophy, I’m talking politics and in politics there are Evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics and the remaining Protestants. The Church of Crystal Healing etc… are not the issue.
At my last job, we had an angry right-wing dude. Loved Trump, although he loved Kristi Noem more because “she’s a bit more fuckable.” He was a lovely gentleman.
He was also quite convinced that everyone cheats and lies, and that if you don’t, then you’re just a sucker.
I think that’s a key mindset that Trump enables, and that belief often doesn’t enter into it. He said the election was stolen because every election was stolen, and he was angry that the Republicans didn’t steal it well enough. If presented with evidence that the Democrats didn’t steal it, he would laugh that they were fools then, and shift back to claiming it was stolen.
“Belief” is not a word I would use.
He also had no real friends, trusted no one, and was a miserable person. I would say that I hope he has grown, but honestly, he makes himself miserable and he deserves it.
(Aside: there’s a long history of misogynistic humor where the punchline seems to be “I hate my wife and she hates me”. It feels like this mindset.)
I don’t claim that this is all Trump supporters, because I really don’t think there is a monolith of Trump supporters, but I think it’s an element of the many belief systems of Trump supporters that is at least as important as the Trump as savior pseudo religious stuff.
@Michael Reynolds: You would find the nature of belief is very different and varied even within Christianity, if you paid attention to it rather than your preconceived notions.
If you stopped believing and started observing.
@Gustopher: Your comment is going to be one of those situations where upon receiving feedback that he might be using to refine his beliefs, he going to just reject it because he knows characterization or something else. I also suspect that he doesn’t really have “beliefs,” only “truth.” He’s a lot like the people he criticizes in that way. (And yes, I get that he’s a lot like those he criticizes is your point.)
He didn’t shut his facial anus when he won in 2016, either. Sore winner, I called him.
His mouth does look like an anus, doesn’t it?
As to 2016…he may well have known that he only won the electoral vote because of the barest fluke. And he lost the popular vote by 2.8 million. So that ignited all his many, many insecurities, and he had to blather ceaselessly in an attempt to silence them. Same thing as losing in 2020 and 2024, which he will do.
Trump, who purports to be the Number One supporter of the police, has stiffed police departments all over the country for providing over 2 million dollars worth of security at his rallies.
It does have the same output.
@Mikey: I don’t actually disagree, but I think there is a practical difference between the two groups. The active and motivated people seek to do harm and will continue to do so even if things change around them. The 70-80% who just follow along would for the most part be just as willing to go in a positive direction as a negative one.
And I think that 70-80% applies to all large groups. It’s as true for Democrats as Republicans, for suburbanites or rural folks or city dwellers. The difference in morality between groups is because of who has control of the group, from the base more so than from the top.
I can’t speak for the others but lumping all Roman Catholics together is not a meaningful exercise. The range of beliefs and value systems within a single parish is astounding, and when you consider there are over 17,000 parishes in the US, you may as well be saying “Here is what fast food employees believe”, or “Here is how automobile repairmen vote”. And the Church hierarchy is very disparate as well, although that almost doesn’t matter because I know boatloads of Catholics and very, very few of them look to the hierarchy for moral guidance, much less political guidance.
While priests were once highly respected in many communities (since they frequently were the only educated people around for miles), it hasn’t been true for a long time, and certainly hardly true at all since all the abuse scandals. In the past families would push their sons into the priesthood, but today it’s more like that old Jewish joke: “He wants to become a Rabbi! What kind of job is that for a Jewish boy?!”
@Just nutha ignint cracker: My point isn’t that he is like the people he criticizes, it’s that he is oversimplifying things to the point where it isn’t a useful abstraction.
It’s a lazy abstraction, like claiming that all Mexicans like tacos (true, but only because a love of tacos is universal, and those who claim not to love tacos are twisting their beliefs and truths into knots for some other reason tied closely to their sense of identity).
I suspect that Señor Reynolds is so committed to his simplistic view of people and motivations because it makes for better characters.
Conflicted characters are torn between a small number of options, while conflicted people have a thousand different motivations and are incredibly wishy-washy as they slowly fumble onto the thing we all knew was what we knew they were likely to do in the first place. The character is swayed by something akin to logic (often their own logic) while people are swayed by identity, habit, what they had for dinner, what the cute redhead they haven’t seen in three years would think, etc. People aren’t as dramatic, and they aren’t as consistent.
So-and-so did something out of habit while barely conscious of it and then constructed a narrative in their head where they justify it afterwards, adjusting facts and beliefs as needed — that doesn’t push the story along.
A physicist might say “first, assume a spherical cow”, and that abstraction works fine for calculating gravitational effects, but it would be a mistake to assume spherical cattle in animal husbandry, as spherical cattle would just roll off one another, and no insemination would occur.
(The other extreme, which I fall prey to more often, is worrying about covering every case, when 80% is usually good enough. I know it often doesn’t matter, but a career in software engineering where the edge case screws up everything rather than just being unimportant noise means my instincts are messed up)
They seem to be the most performatively “Christian” elements in American politics.
But it’s useful to remember that that has a lot to do with the contingent development of both politics and religion in the US.
In Europe the most openly Catholic parties are the German CDU/CSU, who are not markedly nutty. In France the Catholic turn away from reactionary nihilism has been an important facto in the base of post-war politics. Similarly in Italy, and more recently in Spain.
Poland’s PiS can be loony, but they vary. And it’s still in part a reaction to the trauma of Communist rule.
And Fidesz in Hungary have often been at odds with the Catholic hierarchy.
In the UK the Conservatives have often been regarded as the party of “Church and Crown”.
But the Labour Party were also highly influenced by the Christian Socialist movement; the first leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Keir Hardie, was one such.
In an American context, you can consider various figures, who were both Christian and socially concerned, some highly problematic, like William Jennings Brian, some less so, like Martin Luther King.
I’d wager a considerable sum that various strains of Christianity remain influential among grassroots Democrats of various sorts in various places.
@Gustopher: Thanks for the clarification!
I think there could be a legit litmus test for Christians and their beliefs, using the same standard used by the Pope. His view is that if you oppose abortion AND you oppose providing affordable healthcare for poor families, you do not deserve the title “pro-life.” I would go farther and say that if you oppose both abortion and access to healthcare for the poor, you earn the title of Counterfeit Christian. Or maybe “Lip Service Christian” would be more precise.