The 2024 Republican Primary Will Be Like 2016 (As in Donald Trump the Winner?) – Imagine yourself standing in a circular cage surrounded by six or more people, all of whom dislike each other, and who want to get to the tiny exit in the middle of the cage first. Whoever gets to that exit first survives. The others get humiliated and die.
(Subscribe to 19FortyFive‘s New YouTube Channel here.)
That was the Republican Primary in 2016. Only it was way more than six people (it was 17). It was pure chaos and it ended with the least conservative candidate making it through that exit and into the General Election.
Despite Trump’s fame and fortune, his heterodox ideological beliefs made him the least likely on paper to survive the thrashing of the primary.
We were told then that 2016 was the greatest lineup of Republican talent in modern history. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), former New Jersey Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul (R-TN), and several other notables had risen to challenge each other—and the underdog, Donald J. Trump—for the chance to represent the Republican Party in challenging the Democratic Party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Had you asked any experts at the start of 2016, Donald Trump’s candidacy was a joke; a publicity stunt designed to generate more interest in Trump’s business ventures than anything else. The Republican talent assembled in 2016 represented the apotheosis of several generations of ideological training and intellectual cultivation in the theories of Conservatism that, according to the experts, should have eventuated in one of the non-Donald Trump candidates easily walking away with the nomination.
So, how is it that Donald Trump won that fight?
It’s All Numbers
A large reason was numbers. The more candidates who ran in 2016, the harder it was for any one of them to solidify enough support to directly challenge Donald Trump. An inverse relationship, therefore, existed between Trump, his opponents, and the nomination. The more opponents who entered the field against him, the greater the chance of being the nominee Trump had. Most of the candidates did not take Trump seriously until it was too late in the process. Those candidates had instead focused on battling each other and leaving the field to Trump.
In 2024, the situation might be similar.
Just as in 2016, even though he was the last Republican president, Donald Trump has cast himself as an outsider in politics. This narrative still seems to hold sway over many Republican primary voters—especially as more conventional Conservative politicians move forward to challenge Trump for the nomination.
In the case of Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, he has yet to officially announce his bid for the presidency in 2024. But, it is widely assumed that he will make that announcement as soon as May, when the Florida legislative session ends.
The problem for DeSantis and the other Republican primary candidates is that they are known to the GOP base as professional politicians. They are predictable. And, in the case of DeSantis, some fairly well-known Wall Street-types are openly calling for him to challenge Trump. These facts hurt DeSantis, not because he doesn’t need the money to run (he does), but because Trump is already casting DeSantis as the candidate of the globalists.
George Soros is convinced that Ron DeSantis will run against Trump and that he’s the bigger threat Soros’ beloved Democratic Party than Trump is. If the Republican primary was kept to just a one-on-one race between Trump and potentially DeSantis, it is likely DeSantis could win that fight.
That is not how things will go, though.
Cleaving Them from the Herd
Former Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Govern Larry Hogan of Maryland, Vivek Ramaswamy, as well as DeSantis (and others), are all already in the race or are about to enter. The cage match, therefore, is underway and the fighters will begin punching hard against one another to win the nomination and make it to that proverbial exit out of the GOP primary and into the General Election in 2024.
If history is any guide, though, don’t expect it to be anyone other than Donald Trump at this point. Unlike the other fighters in this cage match, Trump will hit people from behind, he will gauge their eyes out, pull their hair, and kick them when they’re down. He is already employing the same strategy that was so successful in besting far more well-known Conservative candidates in 2016. Trump is, after all, the greatest cage fighter in the history of political cage fights.
And, by the time Trump has to go head-to-head with the other last standing GOP candidate from the bruising multi-sided fight, that other candidate will likely be so bruised and battered that he won’t be able to best Donald Trump. Just as the otherwise brilliant Ted Cruz was too weak at the end of the GOP primary process in 2016 to do anything more than give a meandering speech to the Republican National Convention in which he made veiled insults to Trump (who had spent the period before that bashing Cruz’s lovely wife).
Change the Dynamics of the Fight or Lose Bigly
So, unless either DeSantis starts really clobbering Trump—soon—and if he can isolate Trump and go head-to-head with him, then the nominee will be Trump in 2024. Without a true crisis in the United States, such as an economic collapse (which may be coming very soon), Trump will lose to Joe Biden, who is still viewed as a stabler candidate than Trump.
Thus, 2024 will look much like 2016 in the primary battle with the same outcome unless the other Republican candidates (DeSantis in particular) do more than just ignore Trump.
Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.