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The haters may still hate him, but others still love him.
At CPAC Texas over the weekend, former President Donald Trump crushed the competition in the 2024 GOP presidential nomination poll.
Trump captured 70% of ballots cast in the anonymous straw poll, up from the 55% he received at CPAC Orlando in late February.
The Republican party goes as Trump goes. That will not change between now and 2024. Should Trump announce his candidacy for 2024, he will be the heavy favorite in the GOP primary.
Trump’s base is so strong that Republican voters have only one other candidate on their minds. In the same CPAC Texas straw poll, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received 21% of ballots cast.
DeSantis may be a distant second, but he scored a significant win compared to the rest of the pool. No one else among the other 19 potential 2024 Republican White House contenders received more than 1%. It was Trump at 70%, DeSantis at 21%, six candidates at 1%, and 11 others at 0%.
Trump keeps teasing a 2024 run, but until he actually announces it, I’m not sold that he’ll do it.
While I have no doubt Trump would run today, there are many days between July 12, 2021, and the end of 2022 midterms. Trump told Clay Travis and Buck Sexton he could announce his decision following the results of the 2022 election.
If Trump does run, the question then becomes whether DeSantis would challenge him. The New York Times is encouraging it, hoping to build a destructive civil war in the Republican party. I don’t see it though. DeSantis’ support is strong and growing, but here’s the truth: all that would quickly erode if Trump turned against him.
Trump has the opportunity to play kingmaker not only in 2022 but 2024, 2026, and 2028. So if Trump runs in 2024, DeSantis is better off waiting for 2028 and hoping to inherit most of Trump’s voters. Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s fourth White House chief of staff, is already saying DeSantis won’t challenge him.
‘[DeSantis] would be the first to say that if President Trump gets in, that he would win the nomination and would clear the field,” Meadows said on the topic.
Should Trump, 75, pass on 2024 — and, again, I’m not convinced his decision is final — DeSantis has an incredible opening. That hypothetical 21% would instantly skyrocket.
In a second straw poll in Orlando based on a hypothetical nomination showdown that didn’t include Trump, DeSantis led the pack with 43% support. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem finished second at 11%. A lot would have to change for Noem to challenge DeSantis and his momentum.
Trump is like Tom Brady. Until Brady leaves the NFL, the league is his. But who would’ve thought there would be such a worthy successor in Patrick Mahomes?