Donald Trump Needs to Capture Independent Voters: Mention the name Grover Cleveland and most people will look at you with a puzzled expression. Many probably don’t even know he served as President of the United States. Twice. Once as the 22nd and again as the 24th.
That’s right. If he were to be elected in 2024, Donald Trump would join the illustrious ranks of one of the most unnotable presidents in history as a non-consecutive two-term leader.
But that is where the similarity between the two men ends. A rare biography recently has been written about Cleveland that recounts the life of the last “conservative Democrat.”
While one would never mistake Trump for anything in the neighborhood of the word Democrat, in order to win 2024, Trump must win over those that don’t lean so far right: independent voters.
The Curious Case of the Independent
The share of independent voters has trended upward in the past two decades. According to a Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans identified as independent in 2016. This number is only expected to grow over the next 15 years.
However, to signal the new extremes of the Democrat and Republican voters, many of these independent voters say they lean in a particular direction. In essence, while under normal circumstances they would put a (D) or (R) by their name, they just don’t want to be identified with Trump or Biden.
Trump’s MAGA base, while still a force in the Republican party, is not dominant enough to secure a general election win. He needs to win back those Republicans – ahem, pardon me – independents – that abandoned him in 2020.
Is CNN Trump’s Path Forward?
There were plenty of what some consider to be more traditional Republicans that just could not stomach another four years of Trump’s antics. While his off-the-cuff, crude comments rolled off the backs of some and even amused others, many believed such behavior was simply not befitting of the leader of the free world.
However, Trump’s aggressive tone and defensive posturing were often warranted. From the Russia collusion hoax to Alvin Bragg’s ridiculous charges, more and more it’s looking as if Trump indeed has been unnecessarily hounded by an intellectual elite that simply could not tolerate someone outside their inner circle inside the Beltway.
“The report is now here, it has dropped, and it might not have produced everything of what some Republicans hoped for, [but] it is regardless devastating to the FBI and to a degree, it does exonerate Donald Trump,” the CNN host said.
Trump claims there must be a “heavy price to pay” for FBI Director as well as for putting “our country” through this. He’s not wrong. The left whipped the nation up in a mass frenzy for years over Trump’s alleged schemes with Russia to gain votes. It was a massive impediment to garnering any support for his policies, no matter how sound they were.
In its attempt to appear more balanced, and also, of course, to boost its sad ratings, CNN hosted a town hall for Trump last week that saw him more dialed back than in past press encounters. While he certainly didn’t acquiesce to Kaitlin Collins, he remained comparatively calm in the face of her tired rehashing of January 6th, sexual escapades, and yes, ‘Russiagate.’ Except for that part when he called her a “nasty person.”
The Best Worst Case Scenario for Trump
Roger Lowenstein of the Wall Street Journal states that Cleveland, the son of a Presbyterian pastor, was uncommonly principled, a rare politician who rose above partisanship. Again, not exactly the description even the most faithful supporter of Donald Trump would use to describe him.
Yet, as Lowenstein also states, a principled president isn’t the same as a great one. Cleveland’s accomplishments were few and, while not overwhelmingly popular, Trump may be the best of the worst options in 2024.
Whether or not one believes four years of no war, a strong and stable economy, secure borders, and greater energy independence were on account of or in spite of Trump, they were certainly hallmarks of his term in office.
But so was vitriol and a constant antagonistic attitude toward the press, his opponents, and anyone who disagreed with him.
If he can keep the latter at bay and emphasize what he has done and will continue to do to improve the top concerns of Americans right now, he may just be able to persuade independents to vote for him. The economy, national security – both at the southern border and abroad – and for many families, parental rights in education are all top of mind. And all issues Biden has bungled.
Continued baseless attacks against him may soften even the most ardent anti-Trump voter. As an independent voter (who leans right), my suggestion would be to play down the partisanship and play up the policy, as Biden does the opposite.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review.