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Opinion: For Trump, the party's over


Gifted One
Staff member
Apr 16, 2021
Perched on a rock in Canada
As the 2022 primary season gets underway, those of us who have long opposed former President Donald Trump may finally begin seeing an end to his reign over the Republican Party.

Just consider the current realities Trump faces.

His legal woes and their attendant distractions have not gone away. Investigations in New York and Georgia continue, and a court filing outlining potential evidence of criminal conspiracy by the January 6 House select committee also looms large. (Trump denies wrongdoing in all.)

Meanwhile, Trump, once the master of social media with more than 88 million Twitter followers and 35 million on Facebook before the insurrection, has had disastrous results in creating his own online platforms. He terminated his blog, "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump," after 29 days due to what aides describe as lack of readers and negative press. His recently announced social media network, Truth Social, has suffered from an inept rollout involving technical glitches and a 13-hour site outage.

Trump's standing among Republicans continues to weaken. A recent NBC poll shows a significant decline in his hold on the GOP. While previous surveys showed that up to 54% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters say they self-identified as supporters of Trump rather than the Republican Party, the new survey shows that 56% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents consider themselves supporters of the GOP. Only 36% consider themselves supporters of the former President -- a significant marker of Trump fatigue.

His behavior and inane remarks have likely contributed to the decline. For example, his early praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, using terms such as "genius" and "pretty savvy," contrasts with President Joe Biden's recent branding of the Russian leader as "a war criminal." A Quinnipiac University poll found that Americans are overwhelmingly pro-Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has a 64% approval rating. The same survey shows the depth of anti-Putin sentiment: 60% of Americans think that Putin is mentally unstable, again demonstrating how out of step Trump is with the public.

Trump's campaign of revenge against Republicans he deems insufficiently loyal, and his maniacal obsession in spreading the "Big Lie" about the 2020 presidential election, only serve as additional vehicles of alienation. Potential heavyweight rivals such as former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas all have broken with Trump recently on issues such as Ukraine, Covid-19 and crime.

Trump's endorsement may tip the balance in some important races this year, but it is far from determinative. His endorsed US Senate candidates in North Carolina (Rep. Ted Budd) and Alabama (Rep. Mo Brooks) are both struggling and may not win their party primaries. One of his top targets, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, is leading Trump's candidate, former US Sen. David Perdue, in the upcoming May primary. (Editor's Note: Shortly after publication, Trump rescinded his endorsement of Brooks.)

The primary season will prove to be the height of Trump's influence in the GOP. As he has demonstrated over and again, he will claim credit for victory, even in the face of failure. The reality is that some, but not all his endorsed candidates, will win nominations. Some, but not all, will be elected in November. At best, the results for Trump will be mixed.

The period from March 2023 to July 2023 will likely seal Trump's fate as a has-been. It's the time when many presidential campaigns launch. During this period in 2015, more than a dozen Republican candidates, including Trump, announced their intention to seek the GOP presidential nomination.

Trump rivals such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and former administration officials such as former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may wait for Trump to announce his 2024 intentions. But others such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan may jump in before Trump's decision. And the entrance of Pence or DeSantis absolutely would force his hand -- Trump could not ignore such legitimate contenders.

The cumulative effect of all these factors will weaken Trump's resolve. But one major event will end his 2024 aspirations: Joe Biden's potential announcement that he will not seek the presidency again. While Biden has said he would run again if he's "in good health," a Wall Street Journal poll this month finds that only 29% of Americans actually believe Biden will pursue a second term. Biden not running would upend all of Trump's calculations and motivation -- his intense desire for a revenge rematch and his belief that he would win.

Biden's withdrawal would result in a Democrat Party free-for-all, and Trump would not know which Democrat he would face. He may salivate over running against Vice President Kamala Harris, whose approval rating among voters has hovered below 50% since last June, but her nomination is far from certain -- and it may not be worth the risk for him.

As legendary NFL quarterback and broadcaster Joseph "Dandy Don" Meredith used to proclaim at the end of every contest: "Turn out the lights. The party's over!"