Listening to the media reports emanating from the CPAC convention or quotes by Sen. Mitt Romney, one would conclude that the 2024 Republican nomination is Donald Trump's for the asking.
Well, not so fast.
Four weeks in today's crazy news cycle is an eternity, let alone four years. There are myriad factors that could weigh against the former president becoming the GOP standard-bearer once again.
Here are just a few:
At the moment, Donald Trump is a vibrant Energizer Bunny, leaving in his trail politicos half his age. But, by 2024, Mr. Trump will be 78 years old.
Hopefully, he can maintain both his physical and cognitive health over this time, but as we've seen with the present occupant of the White House, time has a way of catching up. If President Joe Biden continues to deteriorate in his mental faculties, the public may grow leery about placing another near octogenarian at the helm of the ship.
2. Legal battles
Trump Derangement Syndrome did not disappear after Mr. Trump left the White House, as evidenced by the moot impeachment process earlier in the year. The hatred of the president by the leftist cabal that includes the media, academia and the entertainment field has not waned. Democratic prosecutors, who have been politically weaponizing their offices for years, are looking to elevate their profiles by doing what Democrats in Congress could not: indicting and convicting Mr. Trump.
New York Attorney General Letitia James actually ran on a platform that she was going to seek prosecution of Donald Trump. while Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who let the rioters who pillaged the city over the summer go free, has shown his intention to find a crime — any crime — against the ex-president.
Trump has shown himself to be somewhat of a Teflon Don, but continued legal controversies over the next four years could possibly lead even the most ardent MAGA proponents to seek a pause in the drama.
3. Limited platforms
When you are the commander-in-chief, you hold tremendous power in messaging. But an ex-president? Not so much.
Trump could be the exception with his talent for staying in the news via his tweets, but if a widescale alternative to Twitter is not developed and sustained, Trump's ability to stay relevant will be diminished exponentially. Over the next four years, many other Republican officials will begin to fill the void.
4. The polls
While Donald Trump has been the alpha juggernaut of the Republican Party, let's not forget that he lost this last election by 7 million votes in the popular election. And despite his enormous policy successes, including one of the most vibrant economies in a generation prior to the pandemic, his poll numbers could never break the 50% mark.
A president who had grown wages, enhanced energy independence, brokered peace in the Middle East and wiped out ISIS should have had his poll numbers hovering in the 60% range. But, the former president, for some odd reason, never sought to expand his base among crucial independent voters.
While it's true he did make some traction in the Black in Hispanic communities, that growth is overblown, given the fact that the president lost ground with white and older Americans.
That erosion of support was likely tied to his abrasive demeanor, harsh rhetoric and intemparate tweets.
In the end, it will be the polls that are the determining factor.
By 2023, the Biden administration's leftist policies, including open borders, rising energy prices, obsession over identity politics, foreign appeasement, special interest spending sprees and continued energy grid dislocations, may create a climate where the electorate is seeking a change. But it will likely be a change toward the future.
If the polls show Trump getting trounced by double digits, while more temperate alternatives such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are shown beating the Democrats by 3 points, most Republicans will line up behind the likely winner.
Joe Biden generated perhaps the least electricity of any of the 20-plus Democratic candidates who threw their hats in the 2020 ring, yet he emerged as the victor because the polls showed him as being the most likely to knock out Trump.
Ideology is still extremely important to large swaths of the GOP. But in the end, just like the Dems, they simply want their team to win. And that's why Donald Trump's long-term hold on the Republican party is not as solid as the present reports may suggest.
Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive, as a NYS Assemblyman, and host of "The Steve Levy Radio Show." He is the author of "Solutions to America's Problems" and "Bias in the Media." www.SteveLevy.info, Twitter @SteveLevyNY, firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Steve Levy's Reports — More Here.
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