At the start of what could be called “Debate Week” in the 2024 Republican presidential primary race, if you lower the sound on your TV, shut off the buzzing appliances and hold your hand to your ear and listen hard enough, you just might hear the commotion.
What, you ask? It’s the sound of Democrats cheering wildly, the residual exclamations from last week when ultra-ambitious Fulton County (Atlanta, Georgia) District Attorney Fani Willis filed a thoroughly excessive and overblown series of charges against former president Donald Trump and his alleged “co-conspirators” in a purported racketeering scheme designed to overturn the 2020 election.
Objective folks would say the president was just trying to get to the bottom of the inconsistencies at the time, but there’s no such thing as objectivity where Trump is involved. Mention Trump’s name and Democrats raise their voices, swear a lot, perform insane hand gestures and lose composure. It’s a daily occurrence on “The View”.
The true Trump haters of the universe, which certainly includes some so-called “Republicans” (RINOs?) in the dwindled down to nothing (in influence, at least) NeverTrump ranks, could barely contain their glee as they contemplated more intricately detailed accusations against the 45th president, probably figuring that the accused and his team of lawyers wouldn’t be able to break free from this one.
They may be right. But it also could’ve been some of the boisterous exhortations were from the realization that Trump is most likely here to stay, one way or another – and that the GOP poohbahs are coming to the realization that the party may not be capable of winning without him. In other words, there’s a line of thought out there that preaches Republicans can’t win with Trump – and also can’t win without him. That’s quite a dilemma.
“Republican strategists are worried that if former President Trump doesn’t secure the GOP’s presidential nomination next year, or if he is kept off the ballot because of his mounting legal problems, it could spell a voter turnout disaster for their party in 2024.
“GOP strategists say there’s growing concern that if Trump is not the nominee, many of his core supporters, who are estimated to make up 25 percent to 35 percent of the party base, ‘will take their ball and go home.’ …
“David Paleologos, the director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, said about 40 percent of Republican voters who feel confident about whom they will vote for next year are solidly behind Trump. ‘Conservatively, it looks like 4 out of 10,’ he said of the so-called Tier 1 voters. ‘I haven’t seen many polls where he’s below 40 [percent]. The Trump voters, even from our polling, have pretty much said: ‘It’s Trump or bust,’’ he said. ‘There’s a percentage of voters who won’t even vote Republican if he doesn’t get the nomination.’”
I didn’t find anything in Bolton’s piece that I heartily disagreed with, which makes this week’s debate seem almost anti-climactic when the non-Trump competitors suppose there’s about four-in-ten voters beyond their reach to begin with. Imagine going into a multi-candidate political match where forty-percent of the voters wouldn’t consider a thing you have to say, and you’re essentially competing for that reduced slice of pie that’s left with everyone else.
Which for some – most – of Trump’s rivals, they must’ve surmised this was the case from the beginning of their candidacies. They just miscalculated on the chances of Trump surviving his multitude of challenges to even reach the primary elections.
But here’s guessing that the “other” GOP candidates didn’t figure that Trump backers wouldn’t show up at all if he’s not on the ballot. All Republican candidates – including Trump himself in 2016 – count on supporters of primary rivals to cast off prior animosities to consolidate at general election time to back a winning party ticket. That did take place in 2016, but now? We have eight years of Trump history to look back upon, and the collective leftist/establishment freakout over Trump has hardened many of his voters to the point where they won’t even leave their homes if he’s not occupying the number one slot.
There are likely several reasons Trump won’t sign the GOP’s “loyalty pledge”, but first and foremost it’s because Trump knows he can win without it. In other words, the pledge can’t possibly help him in the long run, but it more than likely can’t hurt him, either. Trump believes, probably correctly, that the voters who back his rivals will eventually come to his side because of how awful senile Joe Biden and the Democrats have been.
People have always complained – and still do – that they’re dissatisfied with the two-party system and believe there needs to be more candidates to choose from. Trump has only intensified such feelings, but the either-or conundrum persists. The apparent fact that the GOP can’t win without Trump being on the ballot is a factor that primary voters should take into consideration.
Will they do so this week when they see the Republicans (with or without Trump being there – Trump may be interviewed by Tucker Carlson at the same time as the debate) appearing on the same stage?
If you don’t believe it, ask whether the same phenomenon exists in the Democrat party. Were there a certain percentage of Barack Obama voters in 2008 or Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 who wouldn’t dream of showing up to vote if their political shill weren’t the party nominee? Similarly, were there any “only Biden” voters in 2020? If Marianne Williamson had won the primary race – or Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren – three years ago, would some Democrats have been so disenchanted that they would’ve stayed away in November, 2020?
If Joe Biden were to remove himself – or be replaced – by the Democrat powers-that-be, would the party have a better or worse chance of increasing their vote totals? Or would there be no difference? It’s my impression that Democrat voters don’t give a rat’s behind about who’s on the ballot as long as he or she wins the presidency, for they know the new president will adhere to the leftist agenda set by the radical interest groups.
The same can’t be said for Trump, who has fostered an astonishing level of confidence among his most loyal adherents. Trump voters don’t trust that the other candidates would deliver on the issues that drive them the way Trump did – and would do again.
The establishment media and many Republican commentators are making too much out of Trump’s refusal to sign the loyalty pledge. The second reason the former president may not have signed it is because its existence gives him a convenient “out” if he doesn’t want to be at the debate. Ronna McDaniel unwittingly provided an excuse for Trump to stay away. He wouldn’t even need to say that he didn’t want to provide a chance for his competitors to peck at him – just that he harbored misgivings about the pledge.
The third reason – and the one most likely to be true – is Trump means it when he says he wouldn’t support the presidential candidacies of certain 2024 candidates. Trump didn’t name which ones, but it’s clear he wouldn’t go campaigning for Chris Christie to be president. Or Asa Hutchinson. Why would Trump help the party establishment when they so aggressively worked to undermine him for years?
Lastly, Trump might not have signed the pledge because he seeks an acknowledgement from fellow candidates and party members that he leads the party, not the other way around – and that the party’s fortunes largely depend on his voters. Who knows? Maybe Trump is sick of hearing about how much the suburban highly educated white voters dislike him and that they’re the key to the whole thing. This rationale only cheapens the votes of millions of people outside of the city limits.
The reasons Trump won’t sign the GOP’s pledge are the same ones “Trump only” voters wouldn’t consider voting for the other Republican candidates, though I think many of Trump’s backers would turn out for Ron DeSantis or Vivek Ramaswamy if the former president came around to endorsing them late next year.
The only circumstance the “Only Trump” voters stay away completely is if the party leaders – and perhaps the eventual nominee – worked to remove Trump from the primary race in the coming months.
Of course, it’s always possible that Trump will tire of the runaround and take his name out of contention. The chances aren’t great, but a health issue would do the trick, and Trump himself listed health as something that might stop him. But the more Democrats pursue their witch hunts, the less and less probable this possibility becomes.
Which all-but means that the “only Trump” voters won’t be leaving his side, either.
It should be noted that surveys show about one-quarter of Republican primary participants are “anyone but Trump” in orientation, but it’s unknown whether they would take their grudge all the way to the 2024 general election if he does become the nominee. Again, like in 2016 (and every election, really), the Democrat standard-bearer is certain to be so heinous that it’s beyond contemplation to choose him or her.
It's no secret Democrats are happy these days figuring Donald Trump is up against a solid wall of criminal allegations that will make life very difficult for him in the coming months. But Trump’s Republican rivals need to recognize that Trump carries with him the heart of the GOP grassroots, and something needs to be done to ensure that they turn out in force in 2024.
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