Former President Donald J. Trump has a problem: he struggles with independent, minority, and young voters.
Yet, the former president is the clear force to beat in the GOP Presidential Primary in 2024.
He leads his next likeliest challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, by 23 points.
And it has been this way since DeSantis’ awkward campaign launch announcement.
This, even as Trump is inundated with dozens of indictments from various state and federal grand juries investigating him for a veritable smorgasbord of purportedly illegal activities—ranging from supposedly paying hush money to the pornographic film star, Stormy Daniels, to allegedly mishandling classified documents (and then obstructing federal investigators), to possibly attempting to interfere with the 2020 Presidential Election in Georgia.
Donald Trump Takes Over a Small South Carolina Town
Recently, Trump conducted a major rally in an early battleground state, South Carolina. Preparations for the Trump rally began four days before the event was slated to start.
When the event began, it was as if being transported back to the halcyon days of Trump’s raucous 2016 Presidential Campaign. Around 50,000 people showed up for the outdoor rally—hours before the event actually began. The headline in Politico read, “Trump Takes Over Small City in South Carolina Show of Force.”
It is obvious that, unless Ron DeSantis makes drastic changes to his presidential campaign, he will not overcome the early advantages that Trump, as a quasi-incumbent, clearly enjoys in the Republican Primary.
Of course, the campaign is still young.
The first debate of the GOP Primary is scheduled for August 23. Anything can happen then. But Trump’s decision to make an early stand in South Carolina—and the kind of numbers that turned out for the forty-fifth president—was impressive.
Compare that the showings that have occurred for the other candidates challenging Trump for the Republican Party’s nomination and it doesn’t hold a candle. DeSantis, who is clearly the only viable alternative to Trump this election cycle, has failed to generate the kind of turnout at his rallies that Trump has generated.
DeSantis’ Campaign Needs A Lot of Work
In DeSantis’ case, Politico described his campaign appearance last week in a North Augusta community center as, “a more subdued affair.”
Just how every presidential hopeful wants to have their campaign events described as.
There needs to be a shakeup in the incipient DeSantis Campaign, either in terms of overall strategy or personnel. As it stands, DeSantis’ Campaign is hemorrhaging badly. But that is another matter entirely.
Perhaps no Republican can overcome the hold that the forty-fifth president has on audiences. His overarching appeal due to his celebrity coupled with Trump’s list of grievances appeals to many Republican Party primary voters this election cycle.
After all, most Republicans truly believe that President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats—along with the Faceless Men of the Administrative State—conspired to steal the election away from Donald Trump. That is a powerful motivator for many Republican voters, which is largely why the former president is leading in the polls.
Throw in the aforementioned indictments that many Republicans believe to be little more than cheap, politically motivated attacks designed to weaken Trump’s chances at getting reelected, and you’ve got yourself an attractive primary candidate.
DeSantis can only run on his stellar record. But, we’re in the post-policy politics phase in America. So, too bad for a governor like DeSantis whose record of success and optimism for the future far outstrips the aging, angry Boomer president running for another term.
When widening the political aperture beyond the Republican Primary, though, things get cloudier for Trump.
Right now, Trump only must appeal GOP voters. He already enjoys an advantage with that voting bloc. To show you how much of an advantage Trump has with likely GOP voters, in a strange twist, Trump is defying standards by running to the Left of his main rival, DeSantis, on a panoply of social issues.
Clearly, GOP voters just like Trump, no matter what he says or does.
When the Trump Train Hits the Biden Wall
If likability among voters is the key factor for Trump in the General Election against President Joe Biden, he’s going to hit a wall.
Sure, Trump filled a South Carolina city with as many as 50,000 people. And that is a stunning accomplishment. But South Carolina overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2020 (55.1 percent to Joe Biden’s 43.4 percent) and they were Republican voters.
Whereas in 2016, I was one of the first voices to publicly say that Trump could win the entire election, I do not believe it is likely he will be able to achieve this outcome in 2024.
Should Trump be the Republican nominee, given how important the 2024 election will be for the future of America, it would be by the grace of God that he won.
The Trump Train is still rolling in the GOP Primary. It’s early, but Trump appears to be going strong—far stronger than his opponents. But that train could very well be speeding down on the wrong track as it enters the General Election. The Trump Train might be speeding toward the Biden blockade of independent, minority, and youth voters who’ve coalesced to stop a man, such as Trump, whom they deeply disapprove of.
After all, by hook-or-by-crook, President Biden has already shown he can defeat former President Trump.
Who’s to say the same outcome isn’t just as likely to happen in November 2024 as it did four years before that?
I’d expect the Trump Train to be derailed when it hits the Biden Wall.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.