To repeat an overused expression: Donald Trump is the most divisive politician in the United States.
Granted, in a two-party system where both the Democrats and the Republicans have a realistic chance of success in 2024, there’s going to be a 50/50 split across the country.
That’s not to say every Democrat will support Joe Biden, for example.
Some will abstain, others will vote for third-party candidates, and a few may even switch to the GOP should a moderate Republican win the nomination.
Trump, on the other hand, is viewed unfavorably not just by Democrats, but by a significant proportion of Republicans too.
In a recent HarrisX/American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce poll – the latter being a Republican sponsor – 49% of respondents held an unfavorable view of the former president compared to 46% who said otherwise.
Nevertheless, his lack of attendance at the Republican debates in Milwaukee earlier this month has hardly dented his support among party voters, with a more than 30-point lead over the ailing Gov. Ron DeSantis who still sits in second place.
The reason Republicans support Donald Trump, even if they don’t overwhelmingly like him, is simple: he can beat Joe Biden.
Donald Trump: The Lesser Of Two Evils
A focus group – spearheaded by Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson earlier this month – containing 11 early-voting state Republicans was the subject of a recent New York Times article.
Donald Trump was not universally supported by any means; some described him as “troubled,” “arrogant,” or a “train wreck.”
About half of the participants added that they were interested in seeing a strong competitor to challenge the former president’s charge to the presidential nomination.
However, not a single participant said he would lose to President Biden.
It’s a key priority for Republicans.
A CBS News poll found the ability to beat Biden was one of the top qualities Republican voters sought in their preferred candidate. In the same poll, more than three-fifths believed Trump could beat Biden; only 9%, on the other hand, described him as “a long shot.”
Ultimately, Trump has been in this situation before. After consistently being ruled out until November 8, 2016, Trump defied the odds and became the nation’s president.
The reasons are different – Trump had never held public office prior to 2016, and was not facing four indictments at the time – but the fundamental principles remain the same.
Political commentators’ repeated disparagement of Trump’s electoral chances – despite his popularity in the polls – is strikingly similar to eight years’ ago.
In a neck-and-neck election, voters do not like being told that a candidate has no realistic chance of winning when the polls suggest otherwise.
It promotes an anti-establishment atmosphere, something Trump has capitalized on in the past and something he has a chance to capitalize on again next year.
So, while Donald Trump isn’t universally acclaimed within his party, he retains that ability to beat the GOP common enemy: Joe Biden.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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