Donald Trump Begins 2024 Campaign– The Question: Can He Win? – When former President Donald Trump first teased his 2024 presidential campaign announcement ahead of the November 2022 midterms, he did so in full expectation that a Red Wave would see the GOP take back control of the House and the Senate, and see a host of new Trump-backed candidates win in several high-stakes gubernatorial races. Unfortunately for Team Trump – and the Republicans more generally – that Red Wave was more of a Red Trickle.
It meant that Trump’s eventual official announcement was mired by a poor showing, and blame directed at him from some sections of the party.
The GOP took back control of the House by a small margin, but the Democrats successfully flipped a Pennsylvania senate seat and won in both Arizona and Nevada, taking the 50-50 split in the Senate from the last Congress and giving the Democrats a one-seat advantage over the Republicans. It was a surprisingly good result for the Democrats, despite President Joe Biden’s many scandals over the last two years, and was arguably one of several factors that led to former President Trump laying low for a couple of months.
Trump’s lack of campaigning sparked some rumors that he was only running to avoid being prosecuted, but as with most rumors from the press about the former president, those claims don’t seem to carry much weight. Late in January, Donald Trump made campaign stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two important early-voting states, and make it clear that his campaign is now in full gear.
“We’re starting. We’re starting right here as a candidate for president,” Trump told officials at the New Hampshire GOP annual meeting in Salem.
Trump also hit back at criticism over his lack of campaigning, joking that the election is two full years away, and insisted that he is angrier and more passionate about winning in 2024 than in either of the last two elections.
“I’m more angry now and I’m more committed now than I ever was,” Trump said.
Donald Trump 2024: The Plan (So Far)
Trump, who typically relies heavily on his record-breaking rallies for campaigning purposes, is back in 2016 mode and campaigning the same way every other candidate does it.
Over the weekend, the former president made an unexpected stop at a burger and ice cream shop called Zesto in West Columbia, South Carolina.
Going by the response the former president received, it’s obvious he still has a lot of support out there.
While Trump may have lost the 2020 election, he won more votes than any other sitting president has in U.S. history, and much of that base hasn’t gone away.
True, the venue was almost certainly chosen based on the voting habits in that specific region within South Carolina – something any competent campaign manager would ensure. At least for Trump, though, the support is still there. Next, though, he’ll need to address his lackluster performance among independents in the last election – the kind of people who probably left the ice cream store the moment he turned up with photographers in tow.
Getting out into the real world, hosting huge rallies, and making sure the nation’s press knows that he’s back in the game is important – but ultimately, Trump’s aggressive approach to politics could cause him a headache with independent voters who turned their backs on him two years ago. The 2024 election comes down to how independents feel about Donald Trump, presuming he’s the Republican nominee, as well as how motivated the Democrats are to turn out for scandal-plagued incumbent President Joe Biden.
So far, though, much of Trump’s aggression has been focused on a fellow Republican. Having already criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his COVID-19 response and christening him “Ron DeSanctimonious,” it looks as though Trump could see DeSantis as more of a threat than Biden. That may or may not be true, but the former president may be wise to dial back some of that aggression while independents decide whether they can tolerate another four years of a maverick in the White House.
Could the Ukraine War Decide the Election?
Trump’s ability to go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds can be an asset when dealing with foreign leaders like Vladimir Putin. The Russian president knew that Trump was unpredictable and behaved in a manner unlike any other president in history. It’s no surprise, then, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine occurred so soon into a Biden presidency, with Putin clearly spending the first year of Biden’s first term preparing for war.
Now, Trump is banging the drum for peace, which could serve him well in the campaign. American voters know in their heart of hearts that the war in Ukraine wouldn’t have happened on Trump’s watch. And, even if the war in Ukraine is over by November of 2024 – and we still don’t know whether it will – Trump could easily capitalize on the fact that foreign adversaries like Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping aren’t exactly scared by Biden. The former president could also very easily remind the country of how President Biden handled the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan – hardly his finest hour.
With that being said, if Ukraine does ultimately send the Russians packing, Biden could potentially use that to his advantage, too. Though, with the world’s biggest economies in tatters after COVID lockdowns and war in Europe, Biden may still have a tough time convincing all Americans that the suffering was worth it in the end.
The international security landscape will play a huge role in this next election, as will independents deciding whether to give Trump another shot (assuming he gets the nomination) and as will Democrats who overwhelmingly want Biden to go.
Opinion Author Biography: Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.