Trump entered the 2024 presidential election months before any other serious candidate, indicating an eagerness to remain relevant despite plunging political capital.
Yet, despite having secured two consecutive GOP presidential nominations, despite retaining a cult-like following in MAGA, Trump’s victory in the 2024 GOP primary is far from assured.
In fact, Trump is not currently the frontrunner; Ron DeSantis holds that distinction, according to many experts and polls.
But bowing out, capitulating, acknowledging defeat – that’s not in Trump’s nature. Even a GOP primary defeat may not fully subdue Trump. And may inspire a spiteful backlash.
“It’s begun to dawn on Republicans that they face a potentially catastrophic political problem,” The Atlantic reported. “Donald Trump may lose the GOP presidential primary and, out of spite, wreck Republican prospects in 2024.”
Now that sounds like something from Trump’s playbook.
Would Donald Trump run as a third-party candidate?
A Bulwark poll found that “a large majority of Republicans are ready to move on from Trump.” But, simultaneously, “more than a quarter of likely Republican voters are ready to follow Trump to a third-party bid.”
That combination – a majority of Republicans sick of Trump and a sizeable portion of Republicans willing to follow Trump into the abyss – could positively destroy the GOP’s chances in 2024.
Just days after the poll was released, Trump was asked whether, if he lost the GOP primary, he would support the eventual GOP nominee. “It would have to depend on who the nominee was,” Trump said.
“Donald J. Trump refused to say he would support the next Republican presidential nominee if it was not him,” The New York Times reported, “showcasing, once again, the former president’s transactional spin on political loyalty.”
Will Trump win the nomination?
Trump, despite dominating the GOP for the last eight years, appears to be on the outside looking in. DeSantis is surging. Trump is fading. And several other viable candidates – Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Mike Pompeo, etc. etc. – are expected to run, too. So, the GOP field could be densely populated.
Trump, of course, remains one of the frontrunners – the guy has an entire political movement (MAGA) in his back pocket.
But Trump is not the frontrunner.
This means that the GOP quagmire that The Atlantic and The New York Times are raising alarm bells over is increasingly plausible. Trump may well lose the GOP nomination – thanks largely to his own conduct and the related voter fatigue – and proceed to demolish the entire GOP.
“An independent campaign from Mr. Trump would splinter the Republican base and all but ensure another four years for Democrats in the White House,” The New York Times reported. “Mr. Trump, who has been registered in the past as a Democrat and a Republican, considered running for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination in 2000.”
The point being Trump has no loyalty to the GOP. Trump’s only allegiance is to Trump – which is strikingly ironic given that Trump demanded rigorous personal fealty from absolutely everyone.
That nearly everyone Trump demanded fealty from complied, bending a knee and kissing the ring, may well come to haunt the GOP in the upcoming election cycle – as Trump is unlikely to show reciprocal loyalty if he loses the GOP nomination.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison 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. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.