Four 'doomsday scenarios' that the Republican Party may face in 2024: data analyst
As 2022 draws to a close, the vast majority of prominent Republicans are still afraid to openly criticize former President Donald Trump. But that doesn’t mean that behind closed doors, they aren’t hoping that someone other than Trump wins the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell avoids talking about Trump, he clearly wants his party to nominate someone else. Right-wing firebrand author Ann Coulter, once a Trump supporter, is openly calling for the GOP to nominate Ron DeSantis, not Trump, in 2024, assuming the Florida governor decides to run. And former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, a former Trump loyalist, is saying that Trump shouldn’t be his party’s 2024 nominee, although he won’t rule out the possibility of voting for him if he is.
In an opinion column/listicle published by the Washington Post on December 28, political data analyst David Byler emphasizes that “Donald Trump’s Republican opponents seem worried” about 2024. And he lists four “completely speculative doomsday scenarios” for the 2024 election that “illustrate how the GOP’s problems go far beyond the potential for a divided field.
“Many believe GOP voters are ready to move on from the former president, but we all remember the 2016 primary,” Byler explains. “In that race, Trump had roughly 35 percent of Republican voters behind him, and multiple opponents split an anti-Trump majority. Trump won state after state — and the nomination — with just a plurality of the vote. Trump’s foes are right to fear a repeat of 2016, but they’re thinking too small. There are so many other ways the primary could turn out badly for them.”
Byler’s four “doomsday scenarios” for the GOP in the 2024 presidential election are: (1) “Trump loses, storms off and sabotages the nominee,” (2) “Trump gains a weak lead — and the 2012 clown car returns,” (3) “Republicans stick with a flawed Trump alternative,” and (4), “Trump plays the hits and wins outright.”
Although DeSantis is very much a MAGA Republican, Trump has been actively trying to undermine him. The former president has been urging “Ron DeSanctimonious” to stay out of the 2024 race.
“Trump has never been a loyal Republican,” Byler observes. “He spent years registered as a Democrat and flirted with a presidential run on the ticket of Ross Perot’s Reform Party in 2000. During the 2016 primary, he threatened to run as a third-party candidate if he lost the GOP nomination. If the GOP snubs Trump and picks some other nominee, he might retaliate. He could run a scorched-earth primary against the winner, allege that the primaries were fraudulent, refuse to endorse the nominee or tell his supporters to stay home in November.”
Byler notes that if the GOP decides to “coalesce behind” a presidential candidate other than Trump in 2024, that person “might not have staying power.”
“Republican voters know Trump, but — outside Florida — they don’t know DeSantis very well,” Byler argues. “DeSantis could look strong in the early months of the primary, only to take on water as the campaign wears on. Scandals could emerge. He might stumble in debates. Maybe his intensely conservative record would look like a liability with swing voters.”
DeSantis was arguably the MAGA movement’s greatest success story in the 2022 midterms, running a far-right campaign and defeating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist (an ex-Republican) by 19 percent. Democrats on the whole performed much better than expected in the midterms, and Trump-backed MAGA candidates lost major statewide races in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and other key swing states.
One Florida-based Never Trump conservative who isn’t bullish on DeSantis as a 2024 presidential candidate is The Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson, a former Republican strategist who expressed his vehement disdain for Trump by leaving the GOP. Wilson told The Guardian that that if DeSantis decides to run and Trump fully unleashes his “cruelty” on him, the Florida governor will be crushed. And he believes that the GOP will ultimately “bend the knee” to Trump in 2024 as it has done so many times in the past.
Discussing his Scenario #4, Byler points out that Republican primary voters may ultimately give Trump the nomination in 2024.
“Trump has lost some ground — his favorability rating among Republicans went from 91 percent on the eve of the 2020 election to 72 percent today,” Byler writes. “But 72 percent is not the worst place to start a primary campaign. If Trump ran on his 2016 or 2020 message again and focused on talking to voters — rather than selling his branded cards — he might win an outright majority of the GOP vote. This would be a true worst-case scenario for the anti-Trump GOP. The majority of voters would have rejected them and thrown a scandal-ridden candidate with a dismal 34 percent overall favorability rating into yet another general election.”
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