As the list of announced and likely-to-announce Republican candidates for the 2024 Presidential election grows longer every day, many political pundits and observers are predicting (and some are hoping) that Donald Trump will successfully repeat his divide and conquer nomination strategy from 2016 to win in a crowded field of candidates. In doing so, he will secure a rematch in a general election between himself and President Biden.
I do not agree with that prediction.
I predict Donald Trump will not be the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.
I predict Joe Biden will not be the 2024 Democrat presidential nominee.
Below is my reasoning for the Trump prediction. To follow will be another guest commentary with my reasoning for the Biden prediction.
My Trump prediction is made despite recent polling numbers indicating Trump’s relatively strong support with Republicans (50% in some polls). I suggest this is the result of an extremely loyal base of Trump supporters who are sometimes referred to as MAGA Republicans. They fervently believe Trump deserves an opportunity to avenge the outcome of his 2020 re-election effort that was, in his view and in their view, the result of widespread voting irregularities and outright voter fraud.
While the power and influence of MAGA Republicans has been and is still a significant force to be reckoned with in Republican primary elections; I predict it will wane over time. I predict it will be replaced by power and influence shifting slowly, but steadily, to Republicans whom I refer to as “pragmatic Republicans.” These pragmatic Republicans fervently believe in the following two observations on success in politics: the first was made first by William F. Buckley and was often repeated by Ronald Reagan; Recruit and support the most conservative candidates … who can win. The second observation was made by Morton Blackwell; You cannot enact public policy unless you first succeed in getting elected to wherever they enact public policy.
I predict these pragmatic Republicans will work diligently to help ensure Republicans everywhere connect the dots relative to Donald Trump’s post-presidency role in recruiting and supporting Republican candidates who lost in high profile and winnable 2022 midterm elections.
That list of losing candidates is a long one.
It includes Republican U.S senate candidates in the following national battleground states — Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and New Hampshire; as well as Republican U.S. Senate candidates in Alaska, Nevada, Connecticut, and Vermont. Pragmatic Republicans know with a net pickup of just any two of those winnable seats the Republicans would now have a majority in the U.S. Senate for the first time since 2014.
At the same time, widely expected significant Republican gains in the mid-term U.S House elections never met expectations. While the GOP did achieve a majority in the House for the first time since 2014, that majority is currently a razor thin four-seat majority that is subject to change at any time with special elections to fill unexpected vacancies.
GOP losses were not limited to high profile congressional races. In Maryland in 2022, the Trump endorsed candidate for governor lost by a two to one margin. In down ballot Maryland General Assembly races, Republican held seats dropped by 3 (from 42 to 39) in the House of Delegates and dropped by 2 (from 15 to 13) in the Senate. In Pennsylvania, the Trump endorsed Republican candidate for governor lost by 17 points; and the GOP lost 12 seats in the state House of Representatives, shifting control of that body to Democrats for the first time in 12 years.
Pragmatic Republicans will not forget Trump’s criteria for his support of select candidates in all those losing elections. They know it was not based on objective evaluation of candidate electability, but on his subjective evaluation of the degree to which candidates demonstrated their support for his stolen election claims.
Last, but not least, pragmatic Republicans are finally accepting (albeit grudgingly) that mail-in voting must be more aggressively utilized by Republicans going forward; despite Trump’s vehement opposition to it and urging GOP voters not to use it in 2020.
I predict the mission of pragmatic Republicans will be nothing less than a crusade using whatever legal and proper steps necessary to help ensure the Republican voters are fully aware of the connection between Trump’s 2022 campaign efforts and the 2022 election results.
Based on all the above, I predict Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee for President in 2024.
Next up, my guest commentary with my reasoning for a prediction that Joe Biden will not be the 2024 Democrat presidential nominee.
David Reel is a public affairs/public relations consultant who serves as a trusted advisor on strategy, advocacy, and media matters who resides in Easton.