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GOP’s Worst Nightmare: Donald Trump As a Third-Party Candidate in 2024

By Gage Skidmore: Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.
By Gage Skidmore: Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.

Former President Donald Trump is still a viable candidate to win the GOP nomination in 2024. But Trump’s hold on the GOP is waning, his victory is not assured. Trump will face legitimate primary challenges that have the potential to unseat Trump as the GOP standard-bearer.

So, what happens if Trump loses the GOP nomination? Will he fade away quietly, into the night? Or would Trump perhaps launch a third-party campaign?

Trump and the GOP

For the first time in seven years, Trump seems especially vulnerable within the GOP. Questions about Trump’s electability are mounting. Naturally. Trump lost the 2020 presidential election – and his endorsees have been losing in elections ever since. Most notably, Trump endorsees were destroyed in the 2022 midterms; only one Trump endorsee (JD Vance of Ohio) won a battleground election. 

Simultaneously, Trump is deeply embroiled in several lawsuits, investigations, and scandals – all of which serve to degrade Trump’s stock further. 

A recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll indicated that conservates preferred Trump’s policies – but would like a different candidate to be the GOP nominee. The candidate the poll takers preferred: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

But DeSantis won’t be the only viable challenger for the GOP mantle. Former Vice President Mike Pence is posturing for a run. Prominent senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and maybe even Josh Hawley, will run. Mike Pompeo will probably run. Nikki Haley might run. The point is Trump is going to have stiff competition at a time when his stock has never been lower. Trump may well lose the GOP nomination.

Trump as a Third-Party Candidate?

Trump doesn’t strike me as the type to just pack up his bags and go home. While 999 out of 1,000 Republicans who lose the Republican nomination will call it quits, Trump could be that one-in-a-thousand type of stubborn. 

Political advisors with access to Trump recently told Salon that a Trump third-party run was plausible. 

“Trump was so successful in part because he ran against the elite and out of touch political establishment on both sides, so I’d say it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility.” 

If Trump were indeed to run as a third-party candidate, it would, of course, cleave the conservative voting bloc in two. Trump is still an iconic figure, practically an institution in and of himself. Much of MAGA nation would follow Trump anywhere, even into third-party territory. The results would be disastrous for the GOP. Trump would likely siphon substantial portions of the conservative voting bloc away from the GOP nominee. The GOP candidate would be hobbled. Trump wouldn’t have enough support as a third-party candidate to take out the Democratic nominee. Ultimately, a Trump third-party bid would be a petulant exercise in cannibalism. 

Would Trump do that to his own party? Um, yes, I think he certainly would. 

Funding a Third-Party Run

The beauty of wealth is that it grants freedom and autonomy. Trump is independently wealthy, giving him options the standard public servant does not have, like say, running for president independent of a national party. 

And Trump is still capable of, indeed he is currently, raising good money from outside sources. A super PAC backing Trump “has quietly amassed a small group of megadonors that could be key to financing their effort to bolster his 2024 campaign,” CNBC reported. The PAC, Make America Great Again, Inc., has already raised over $40 million.

Granted, the outside funds could dry up if Trump loses the GOP nomination, but that’s where personal wealth comes in handy. And frankly, Trump’s resiliency and stubbornness is such that he may be able to keep raising good money even without GOP support. 

A Trump third-party run is not the most likely outcome – but it’s a possibility. 

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.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense 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 has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.



  1. A. Hick

    December 30, 2022 at 2:12 am

    The joke of the 2024 campaign will be, “The Republicans will either run Trump, or they will run DeSantis (or fill in the blank) and Trump.” Forget one in a thousand. If Trump isn’t the “official” Republican nominee, there is a 100 percent chance, assuming he is alive and able, he will run as an independent. The man has no loyalties or morals. He isn’t even an actual Republican anyway, so he will absolutely relish putting one over on them. And while he is likely to be under federal indictment by the time he formally breaks with the GOP, once that happens, you can bet those charges will be “slow walked” by the Biden DOJ so there is no trial before the election. It will be fun.

  2. PaulieWalnutz

    February 3, 2023 at 9:17 am

    This is the GOP’s making. You made a deal with the devil to overturn Roe v Wade which the silent majority was fine with, and now the devil is here to collect your soul.

  3. Dannie B. Armstrong

    February 4, 2023 at 8:32 pm

    If Trump runs as an independent, DeSantis will be a shoo-in.

  4. Sam

    February 10, 2023 at 11:07 am

    Personally, I would vote Trump no matter what party he runs with! the man has been the only President in modern history to DO what he said he would do if elected. He accomplished more in one term than any other president I can remember. His only undoing was something he had zero control over, the Covid-19 virus. And yet, he was instrumental in getting vaccines made and approved in the shortest time ever! The democrats hate him, because he didn’t do what every other president did, and reneg on his campaign promises.

  5. Roger Freeberg

    February 10, 2023 at 2:32 pm

    I voted for D.Trump twice but I would not do it again. I think
    that ,if elected.he will tear this country and possibly the world
    inside out. I beleive that he hardly tells the truth and is
    not worthy of becoming president. NO ON TRUMP !!!!!!!!!!

  6. atpcliff

    February 11, 2023 at 2:06 pm

    trump SAID he would revitalize our infrastructure. He would fix roads, bridges, airports, seaports, trains. He did NOTHING.

    trump said he would overhaul our income tax system. He said all of us could do our taxes on a postcard, easy and simple. He did NOTHING.

    These were the two things that trump said he would do, that could really help Our America. I would have given him credit if he did them.

    Nothing happened…trump says ANYTHING, to get us to like him, with NO INTENTION of actually doing them. trump is a con man and a liar.
    He is only out to benefit himself, and his family, with concern for Our America, or for any of us living here in Our America.

  7. ______ ______

    February 12, 2023 at 4:00 am

    DeSantis is not the candidate,”He” already misleading the people,I know lots of history.
    In my line of work I learned, and as the time goes on I have absorbed what is taking place right at this moment “WAR”.This World does not need a new war it needs more
    communication,in this case more “DIPLOMATIC EXCHANGE”.
    Just remember, all things in life keeps changing,this World is getting more educated it’s going forwards.
    US of A,keeps feeding the CROWS just to find that one day “they will peck your eyes out”……..””CHINA””……..

  8. Grammar Nazi

    May 8, 2023 at 11:18 am

    “A recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll indicated that conservates preferred Trump’s policies”

    Mr. Kass, for having so many degrees from so many institutions of knowledge, you seem to lack spelling and proofreading skills….

  9. Firechef13

    May 8, 2023 at 11:16 pm

    He may be rude, crude and downright unsociable, but damn! he DID what he said he would do unlike these crooked politicians we have running this country. Sometimes it takes a REAL MAN and AMERICAN to kick sand into the public’s faces and say; hey, wake up, you’ve been duped for soooo long you don’t even know your ass from a hole in the ground anymore. Anybody who doesn’t vote for Trump and MAGA needs to go to China or Russia, you’ll be more comfortable there.

  10. holly carson

    May 12, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    just get rid of him…he is clearly mentally ill..

  11. holly carson

    May 12, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    oh brother firechief!!!!!

  12. Ray

    May 12, 2023 at 3:04 pm

    Trump and his policies will be a nightmare for this Nation, he will weaponize the justice system and attack anyone who has brought him to justice, and his family will move in to rape this Nation and leave the coffers bare.

  13. Ray

    May 12, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    Forget about DeSantis, this individual is just another high school bully messing up our political system by trying to take this Nation back to the 50’s, he will attract all of racist bigots to crawl out from under their rocks, bottom line anybody that picks a fight with Florida’s largest employer, 800,000 people just because he’s most likely hiding a lot and even though I despise Trump, he will tear DeSantis into oblivion !!!!

  14. Marda

    May 21, 2023 at 7:38 pm

    Of all the candidates for President, on all sides of the aisle (!), and all of the current members of our Congress, Trump is the only person who doesn’t play games with the American people. Regardless of whether you can tolerate him, Trump is the only President who is afraid of NO ONE and he knows how China, Russia, Afghanistan Iraq, Syria, etc., all think and I, for one, will feel much safer when Trump is back in the White House. Biden and his Administration will never be ready to protect Taiwan — Biden should step down because America comes across as he is — weak, unsure, scuffing along, an embarrassment, not able to speak and act with a strong purpose, but relies on cheat sheets — who else is tired of our country’s image to the rest of the world! To wait for the 2024 election just is just too painful — and why is Congress allowing it? The whole Biden administration is corrupt and if Congress won’t do anything about the lies, overspending, DOJ, FBI, then the American people will — We voted for them — they are there to do our bidding — and if not, we can vote them out, too!

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