The Trump Comeback
Author: Greg Valliere
March 1, 2023
WE’VE SAID IT BEFORE AND WILL SAY IT AGAIN: You underestimate Trump at your own peril. He still has a passionate base of support within the party, and we cautiously make him the early favorite to win the nomination.
WHAT ABOUT RON DeSANTIS? The Florida governor has raised tons of money and has solid support from Washington’s GOP establishment, but he isn’t exactly charismatic. DeSantis leads Trump in some states, and has easily settled into second place, but party insiders concede that Trump has a first-rate campaign staff that has kept him from unforced errors.
PARTY LEADERS WORRY that a crowded field would be perfect for Trump, so they are urging Republicans to refrain from running. We think there may be only six or seven other serious candidates — Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Sununu, Tim Scott and dark horse Glenn Youngkin.
SOME OF THOSE CANDIDATES SEEM UNLIKELY to get even 10% support in primaries, while Trump clings to his 45% and DeSantis perhaps wins about 30%. In fact, some of those candidates we listed above may have difficulty making the cut. Party leaders want a small group on the debate stage and the field may be culled early.
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ARE BEGINNING TO TREAD LIGHTLY when it comes to criticizing Trump; no one wants to be on his enemies list or get tagged with a nasty nickname by the former president. Outside of his base Trump may not be loved — but he’s certainly feared.
HE’S FEARED LARGELY BECAUSE Trump could be an albatross for the party — once again — in a general election; his base doesn’t appear to be sufficient to win him another term as president. Moderates view him as too polarizing, and Republicans insiders worry that with Trump at the top of the ticket — still insisting that the 2020 election was stolen from him — could drag down several GOP Senate and House candidates.
TRUMP’S POPULIST APPEAL IS REMARKABLE: He has overwhelming support among white blue collar workers who don’t have a college degree. He went to East Palestine, Ohio and Biden has not. And Trump has been outspoken — unlike many Republicans — about maintaining or improving Social Security benefits.
THERE’S A LONG WAY TO GO, and there may be a focus on Trump’s health; he’s 76 years old now. And he may face indictment in Georgia or New York, although that would enrage his base, as Trump claims a “witch hunt” against him. The key is his base — they would walk barefoot over broken glass for Trump, and DeSantis does not appear to generate such passion.
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