Donald Trump’s Numbers Soften – The air of inevitability that former President Donald J. Trump has attempted to surround his reelection campaign with in the 2024 GOP Primary has always seem a little thin to me, what with the likes of Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and the biotech billionaire, Vivek Ramaswamy, chasing Trump.
The former president’s refusal to participate in the first Republican Party debate also gave the spotlight to many of the other candidates running against Trump, notably DeSantis and Ramaswamy.
Plus, Trump’s recent legal woes are only just starting, as the president faces a staggering combined 91 charges across four different legal cases.
Trump may have already peaked, despite his braggadocio. That can mean only thing: the former president might have a polling problem.
Donald Trump’s Numbers are Slipping
A recent Emerson College poll conducted after the first GOP debate found Trump’s support among likely Republican voters slip by six points.
While the forty-fifth president remains at 50 percent support, this could be just the beginning of something devastating.
This is especially possible, considering how both DeSantis and Ramaswamy have enjoyed considerable bounces in their poll numbers as well as the surges in campaign donations that DeSantis has experienced since the first Republican debate.
The only place for DeSantis to go is up, whereas Trump’s numbers are clearly sliding down.
That’s to say nothing of the fact that, the longer Trump’s legal woes dominate the headlines, the less likely he is to win the election.
Most Americans are unimpressed by the fact that the forty-fifth president is the target of multiple legal investigations.
For Donald Trump’s campaign to argue that with each indictment he moves closer to reelection victory is absurd. It might help him in the GOP Primary. It will not resonate with independent voters who will turnout in a General Election.
Donald Trump certainly has a committed fanbase of people who will only ever vote for him. They formed the nucleus of his “MAGA” movement. But that group on their own is not large enough to sway the election for the forty-fifth president. Politics is about expanding one’s base of support.
Trump believes that trying to win over voters from outside his MAGA base is akin to betrayal. But what militates the MAGA crowd turns off many other voters. Trump engages in his most extreme behavior to appease the MAGA crowd. That, too, is not going to help him in a General Election, if he can get the GOP nomination.
Within the GOP there are fissures arising. While Trump has his base of support, not all Republicans are entirely aboard the Trump Train. Yes, he retains 50 percent support—for now. Certain actions that Trump has taken has helped to reduce his level of support. Trump skipped the first debate.
Then again, he had to skip the first debate to preserve his frontrunner status. There was simply no way for Trump to have survived intact if he had not done the puff interview with Tucker Carlson rather than be made to defend himself and his record on stage at the Republican debate.
Trump Doesn’t Do Well When He’s Made to Answer for His Record
But Trump can’t answer tough questions because each time he’s put in a position where he must defend his record rather than continue playing the aggrieved victim of the Deep State. This presents a quandary for Trump, as he cannot afford to keep skipping the debates. Republican voters expect him to answer questions and put on a show as he did in 2016.
It looks weak if he continues ignoring the process. Plus, his rivals continue gaining ground—even if they remain well behind his numbers in the polls—on him.
In places like Iowa and New Hampshire, two early primary states, Trump is not performing as well as he should be performing, given his frontrunner status. DeSantis has fixated well on dominating Iowa—and he stands a good chance at winning Iowa—while both Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie are enjoying a riseon their standing in the New Hampshire primary.
Donald Trump is Weakening
These are not the outcomes that Trump, who is supposedly the unquestionable frontrunner of the GOP Primary, should be experiencing if his lead was a dominant as he projects.
Donald Trump has likely peaked. Other candidates, notably Ron DeSantis, have a real opportunity going forward to become the dominant players in this multi-sided GOP Primary. Whoever has the best funding and organization—and who isn’t constantly dealing with legal woes—will win.
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 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 occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
From the Vault