Former U.S. president Donald Trump may very well emerge victorious in the upcoming battle for the “Republican” presidential nomination. But his status as the GOP frontrunner is on increasingly thin ice – meaning his weakened allies won’t be able to employ the same tactics they did last time to crush dissent within the party.
And even if Trump were to capture the GOP nod in his third White House bid – there is no guarantee he could win a general election. Indeed, he would appear at this point to be the least electable candidate in the Republican field.
The looming battle between backers of the 45th president and rival factions within the GOP points to an acrimonious nominating fight not unlike the one Trump won in 2016.
Only this time, the hunter has become the hunted … and not just on the campaign trail.
Trump and those in his orbit cannot seem to avoid the fallout from the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. capitol – to say nothing of an ongoing investigation into allegations of election tampering in the state of Georgia which seems to be bearing some fruit.
Trump’s 2024 prospects were panned in a Sunday editorial in The Economist – one which used the billionaire’s own words against him.
“You can’t con people, at least not for long,” Trump and ghostwriter Tony Schwartz wrote in the 1987 book, The Art of the Deal. “You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press … but if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”
“His supporters have caught on to the con,” the publication concluded.
Is that assessment accurate?
Last week, reporter John McCormick of The Wall Street Journal cited polling from his publication which showed Trump’s top GOP rival – Florida governor Ron DeSantis – besting him in a hypothetical contest between the two candidates.
DeSantis drew the support of 52 percent of likely GOP primary voters, according to the survey, while Trump was backed by 38 percent of the Republican electorate. Meanwhile, a whopping 86 percent of GOP primary voters polled viewed DeSantis favorably compared to 74 percent who had a favorable view of Trump.
Trump’s favorables “were the lowest recorded in Journal polling dating to November 2021 and have been pulled down by a decline in positive feelings among Republicans,” McCormick noted. According to the poll, Trump’s favorability among GOP voters has dipped from 85 percent to 74 percent since March of this year – while the share of the Republican electorate which views him unfavorably has expanded from 13 percent to 23 percent.
Not surprisingly, Trump was unhappy with the Journal poll.
“Great polling has just come out on me versus various others, including Biden, but I still have to put up with the same old ‘stuff’ from The Wall Street Journal, which has lost an incalculable amount of influence over the years,” Trump wrote Thursday on his his Truth Social platform.
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Trump also slammed Fox News, “whose polls on me have been seriously WRONG from the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower.”
“Same thing happened in 2016, (when) Fox and the WSJ went out of their way to give me bad coverage and polling and say I couldn’t win – UNTIL I WON!” he continued.
That’s true … and anyone writing Trump off (ahem) does so at their own peril.
Anything can happen in politics …
But Trump is weaker today than he has been at any point since early 2021 – which is probably one reason he has been openly threatening DeSantis in recent weeks.
“If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” Trump told a handful of reporters on election day, according to The Wall Street Journal. “I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.”
“I think if he runs he could hurt himself very badly,” Trump added.
Who could conceivably benefit from this dynamic? Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley – who appears to be on the cusp of announcing her own 2024 presidential bid. Haley said three weeks ago that she was “taking the holidays” to decide whether she will seek the GOP nomination.
That’s obviously a reversal of her previous positioning vis-à-vis Trump.
“I would not run if President Trump ran,” Haley told reporter Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press in April of 2021.
Asked point blank by Kinnard whether she would support another Trump presidential bid, Haley responded “yes.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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