For sure, candidates are stockpiling their resources. While the Democrats have an incumbent president on the fence, still considering whether to run, the GOP field is wide open for the first time in several years. The moment will likely propel several aspirants to come forth, those who have been prominent – yet stifled by Trump’s seven-year monopolization of the party.
Remember the GOP Race for 2016?
The GOP field is beginning to take form, in a nebulous, speculative, undeclared sort of way; the field appears to be crowded, drawing inevitable comparisons to the 2016 field, which was of course packed – and which resulted in the crowning of Donald Trump.
In 2016, the GOP was eager to earn back the White House as Barack Obama’s two-term tenure expired. The stable of candidates who emerged to race was sizeable. The favorite going in was Jeb Bush, who had a unique pedigree as the son and brother of former presidents, himself a former governor of Florida.
But Bush had competition. Senator Marco Rubio, also from Florida, competed with Bush for primacy in Florida. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was a heavy front-runner. Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, was running with a scandal-reduced stock, but at one point had been immensely popular. John Kasich, the Ohio governor, was popular in his increasingly important home state – and appealed to moderate voters generally. And then, further crowding the field, were a slew of outsiders. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, performed well in early debates. Ben Carson, a renowned surgeon, somehow led the field at one point. And Donald Trump, a real estate mogul and reality television star, ended up winning the whole thing despite having never served in public office before.
What 2016 Says About 2024
Autopsies of the 2016 campaign suggest that the crowded field fostered divisions – and those divisions enabled Trump’s win. Basically, the GOP establishment failed to rally around one single candidate capable of acting as a counterbalance to Trump; with the GOP establishment torn between Cruz, and Rubio, and Bush, and Kasich, Trump had a pathway to victory.
The GOP establishment is concerned that the 2024 race could have a similar dynamic: a crowded field could divide establishment support, allowing Trump to secure the GOP nomination – for a third straight time.
The 2024 GOP field has not yet solidified, but already, we have a sense of who is running. With near certainty, we can say Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will be running. DeSantis is emerging as the heir-apparent to Trump. Although it is still quite early, DeSantis seems formidable. However, the combination of Trump and DeSantis both running does not appear to be dissuading other candidates from considering a run. Ted Cruz, who Trump famously degraded during the 2016 campaign, appears to be back for more punishment. Former Vice President Mike Pence, also in Trump’s doghouse, looks like a candidate, too, having just released a memoir and making the rounds on talk shows. Chris Christie, who led Trump’s transition team before being snubbed for a spot in the actual administration appears ready for another run. Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State and CIA Director is probably running. So is former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
So far, Trump is the only major candidate to declare candidacy for 2024. But others will soon follow – and the more that do, the more divided the anti-Trump coalition is likely to be.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.