Why Are So Many Republicans Running (Who Can’t Possibly Win)?
WHY ARE SO MANY REPUBLICANS JUMPING INTO THE 2024 PRESIDENTIAL RACE (WHEN THEY KNOW THEY CAN’T WIN?)
Answer: Republicans who challenge Trump in this election and make positive impressions this time around will be the favorites to win next time, in 2028.
At first glance, this makes no practical nor political sense. But now, I think I’ve figured it out.
Donald Trump is the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential race. Whatever your political views and thoughts about Trump, this is an indisputable fact.
his mouth or what classified documents or dead bodies are hidden inside his overflowing closet of skeletons. Whatever the scandal, legal charges, civil judgements, rape convictions, federal indictments, illegal payoffs, treasonous actions, bankruptcies, personal embarrassments, insults, or smoking guns, he’s the real “Teflon Don.” Not the late mobster, John Gotti. Teflon Trump. In fact, the only honest thing Trump’s ever shouted was he could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes. Yep, that statement was both a bullseye and a black eye.
Trump will get about half of the Republican primary vote, and even if that’s optimistic, he’s still sitting on a solid and unshakable 40-45 percent of the GOP. The other half of the party is divided amongst itself. Such formidable challenges could make an a primary pathway possible for one, or perhaps two Republican alternatives to Trump. For instance, if Ron DeSantis (Trump’s most viable challenger at the moment — and probably the only legitimate shot for anyone in the party to topple him in 2024) were the sole alternative, indeed, with lots of work and an infusion of a personality there’s some chance he could muster enough of a plurality and beat Trump in the primaries. But that’s not in the landscape right now.
Presently, NINE Republicans have officially declared their candidacies, plus another THREE who still might jump in. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who probably won’t get more votes than the attendance at an Oakland A’s game, announced his candidacy this morning. That makes a dirty dozen potential challengers to Trump, and anyone who understands math can do the simple calculations.
The equation means this: There’s no foreseeable path for any challenger to overcome Trump’s 24-point margins in the polls and ultimately upset him in the primaries. Perhaps an overly optimistic case can be made for DeSantis provided he can stop his free fall (down 10 points in the last three months), but given a best-case scenario, would every Republican non-Trumper jump onto his bandwagon? I don’t think so.
This leads to my question, So, why are so many Republicans running? Surely, they know they can’t win. Right?
I’ve been thinking about this lately, and came up with a theory. It might not apply to all NINE challengers to Trump, but I do think it’s a viable explanation.
My theory is — they aren’t running in 2024 with victory in mind. Rather, they jumped into this election knowing very well that Trump is likely to crash and burn (again). Like experienced chess players, they’re thinking several moves ahead, and perhaps four to five years in advance. Those who challenged Trump in this election and made positive impressions upon Republicans this time around will be the favorites to win next time. That means, they’re looking to run in 2028.
Most of these Republicans are relatively young. Choosing not to run in 2024 yields too much potential free publicity in a time when the party is in turmoil. Even a losing primary race in a presidential election can yield lots of valuable political real estate — in addition to relationships with donors — for a future run (think Ronald Reagan losing to President Ford in 1976, then taking that base and winning in 1980). Abdicating the highest profile political race in the country gives the stage (and the spotlight) to other potential replacements in a post-Trump GOP. Oh yes, there is going to be lots of clawing and clamoring to take over the ash heap, because Trump is perfectly willing to burn the Republican Party to the ground, and everyone knows it. He cares nothing about political philosophy, the future of the party, or any other candidate or elected leader. He’s already been humiliated in three straight elections (essentially falling way short of projections in 2018, 2020, and 2022). His endorsement become a mud stain in close races and swing states. He’s political suicide.
Fact: With few exceptions, most of the Republican leadership can’t wait until Trump loses, and then (they hope) disappears into oblivion.
The sooner this happens, the better for Republicans. By making a bold stand now, and at least symbolically separating themselves from a lunatic and a loser, they’ll be in much stronger position for 2028. In baseball terms, this isn’t a race to the plate. It’s a race to the batter’s box to be the next hitter.
Sure, other motivations factor, as well. A few challengers may be delusional enough to think a losing Veep slot (getting picked by Trump as a running mate) will boost their careers. If Sen. Tim Scott, who appears to have a bright future ahead, is thinking along these lines, he’s insane.
They all expect to lose in 2024, but they’re eying 2028. That’s why so many are running for president.