Will The Orange Mobster Ever Be President Again?

"There's A Sucker Born Everyday" by Nancy Ohanian

Today the last major court challenge by sore loser Donald J. Trump and his cockamamie "Big Lie" supporters to the legitimacy of the 2020 election results was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Brian Amero in Fulton County, Georgia. "State election investigators couldn’t find any fraudulent or counterfeit ballots within ballot batches cited by Republican vote-counters who participated in a statewide audit last November, according to a court filing on behalf of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, a new Morning Consult poll for Politico shows Trump ahead of every other possible 2024 GOP contender, among registered Republicans, hardly a surprise. In fact, the poll shows him within one-point of all the other potential candidates combined.

  • Señor Trumpanzee- 47%

  • Ron DeSantis- 12%

  • Mike Pence- 12%

  • Trumpanzee, Jr.- 6%

  • Ted Cruz- 3%

  • Marco Rubio- 3%

  • Nikki Haley- 3%

  • Mitt Romney- 3%

  • Liz Cheney- 2%

  • Kristi Noem- 1%

  • Tim Scott- 1%

  • Rick Scott- 1%

  • Tom Cotton- 1%

  • Josh Hawley- 0%

  • Larry Hogan- 0%

  • Mike Pompeo- 0%

One of the candidates with no chance at all, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, has nevertheless raised a massive warchest-- $8.3 million in just the quarter that ended 2 weeks ago. He had raised $9.6 million in the second quarter. "Scott," reported Politico, "who is the only Black Republican in the Senate, had not previously been known as a major fundraiser. But over the past year Scott has waged a concerted effort to build his small-dollar fundraising operation, paying for a barrage of Facebook ads aimed at drawing in donors. He has also begun to win over some of the party’s biggest donors, including tech titan Larry Ellison. The Oracle co-founder has contributed $10 million to the Opportunity Matters Fund, a super PAC aligned with the senator. The outfit has also received contributions from other big GOP donors, including hedge fund manager Dan Loeb, investor Bill Oberndorf and Las Vegas billionaire Steve Wynn." A garden variety conservative robot, he hasn't accomplished one single thing since being appointed to the Senate in 2013. Don't expect Scott to help ever end the country's-- nor even his party's-- Trump problem.

Last night, writing for The Atlantic, David Graham noted that the U.S. was "unprepared" for Trump's failed coup attempt after he lost the election. "Trump had spent months calling the election 'rigged,' and historians and democracy experts warned of the damage that these false claims could make. But when the president stepped to a lectern in the White House late on Election Night and insisted he’d won, many Americans were taken aback. Much worse was still to come: Trump calling Georgia’s secretary of state, asking him to find 11,000 votes; attempting to weaponize the Justice Department; and instigating the failed January 6 insurrection. Americans are ready now. If anything, they’re overprepared. Many members of the uneasy coalition of Democrats and former Republicans who oppose Trump are frantically focused on the danger of Trump and his GOP allies trying to steal the 2022 and especially 2024 elections. This is not without justification; many of Trump’s henchmen, meanwhile, are frantically focused on stealing it. But these watchdogs risk missing the graver danger: Trump could win this fair and square."

Take a bow, Joe Manchin. Take a bow Kyrsten Sinema. Take a bow Josh Gottheimer, Kurt Schrader, Ed Case, Lou Correa, Henry Cuellar, Stephanie Murphy and the rest of the corrupt Blue Dog hacks No Labels are playing like fiddles. I hope your constituents rip you to shreds if Trump ascends to the White House in 2024 because of your opposition to Biden's very modest Build Back Better plan.

Trump winning in 2016 was a serious wound to the American experiment. His clinging to power in 2020 poured salt in that wound. Trump losing in 2024 and trying to steal the election would be even more catastrophic. But a straightforward victory-- a very real possibility-- could be a mortal injury.
A Trump candidacy in 2024 is almost certain, and a nomination is probable. He has already done everything except declare his candidacy officially, flirting (unusually demurely for him) with an announcement in public statements. Some skeptics still think it’s a feint, but why wouldn’t he run if he can win? In 2016, Trump won only a plurality of GOP-primary voters, and faced nearly unanimous opposition within the Republican establishment. If anything, he’ll head into 2024 with the party far more unified around him, even though polling suggests more ambivalence among GOP voters.
A large group of Republicans are eyeing the 2024 race, but several have said they won’t run if Trump runs. Others, like Chris Christie, say they won’t defer to Trump, but Christie proved to be not even a speed bump for Trump in 2016. There’s no reason to think that has changed. On Saturday, Trump held a rally in Iowa featuring Senator Charles Grassley, an old-school Republican in both temperament and chronology—a symbol of Trump’s takeover of the party. Many Senate Republicans privately hope that Trump doesn’t run, but the more telling fact is that they won’t say so publicly. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sharply castigated Trump after January 6, has since said he would “absolutely” back Trump if he’s the Republican nominee.
Could he win? Of course he could. It is unlikely-- though not impossible!-- that the current air of chaos and free fall around the Biden administration will continue for the next three years. (To see another example of a four-year train wreck, you’ve got to go all the way back to … the last president.) Biden also retains certain structural advantages. Incumbents have a built-in edge, and although the future course of the pandemic is unpredictable, the economy seems likely to improve, if slowly.
But the president’s approval rating has slipped definitively underwater, and the intensely polarized environment makes it hard for him to claw back favor once lost. Most worryingly for Democrats, Biden has lost favor with independent voters. Incumbency doesn’t seem to be quite the boost it once was; both Trump and Barack Obama saw their vote share slip as they ran for second terms. Besides, given the tight margins in several states, Trump wouldn’t need to gain much on Biden to beat him in a rematch.
This adds up to a decent shot at Trump winning in 2024-- at least an Electoral College win, as in 2016, and perhaps even the popular-vote win that has twice eluded him. I wrote on the eve of the 2020 election that a second Trump term would be more dangerous than the first, but a second Trump term beginning in 2024 would go beyond that.
...The rise and fall of the Trump presidency allowed some people to reassure themselves that although many things in American society are broken, a fundamental lodestar remains in place. In this story, Trump was unable to win the popular vote; he won only on a technicality of the Electoral College, and once voters saw him in action, they recoiled and tossed him out. Perhaps the 2024 election will reinforce that, or perhaps Trump won’t run, but it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in either of those scenarios. A Trump victory in 2024 would upend that story.
Many politicians are fond of an apocryphal remark by Winston Churchill: “Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else.”
The possibility remains that they might try everything else and then opt for the wrong thing after all.