While the 2020 election continues to be litigated, some outlets are looking ahead to 2024. While Democrats and some in the GOP establishment have been hoping a Trump defeat would return the GOP to “normal,” don’t count on it. According to a Politico-Morning Consult Poll, if the 2024 Republican primary were held today, 53% of Republicans would vote for Donald Trump. Another 12% would vote for Vice President Mike Pence.
This is more than the plurality with which Trump won the primary in 2016. This should send a message to the party leadership that they would be foolish to ignore, but not because one should assume Donald Trump would run in 2024 or that these numbers aren’t likely to move significantly as interested candidates work to raise their profiles.
It seems evident that there is 65% percent approval among the GOP for the agenda this administration has pursued. Vice President Pence has been a staunch supporter of the president’s agenda, and this is clear from his 2020 stump speeches and his campaigning to keep the Senate majority. Voters would expect him to implement a similar agenda in a different package, more like a panther in a China shop rather than a bull.
Call it “America First” or whatever you like. President Trump made commitments during the 2016 election and accomplished an astonishing number of them that benefited working families and the economy. Americans’ prosperity and security were at the top of his agenda. This resulted in record-low unemployment, rising wages, and things like the threat of terrorist attacks fading from Americans’ concerns.
Even after the pandemic began, 56% of Americans said they were better off than they were four years ago, according to Gallup. This was significantly higher than any other incumbent scored, including Ronald Reagan before his landslide in 1984. The enthusiasm among Trump’s supporters was also demonstrated by his ability to draw crowds and the efforts by the media to downplay it in polling. To alienate the president, his allies, and even his children would alienate members of the coalition he built.
The New York Times speculated about Trump’s ability to hold onto power within the Republican Party post-electoral defeat. According to Maggie Haberman’s sources, current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel is viewed as Trump’s conduit to maintain control close to the controversy. Haberman claims President Trump will have no infrastructure once he leaves office. Apparently, she forgot he didn’t have one when he won the primary.
Anyone who thinks that President Trump will not influence the direction of the Republican Party in the future is just insane. As far as infrastructure, whether it is a PAC, a media company, or just being Trump on Parler and Rumble, Trump will undoubtedly hold sway. And he will be able to swing harder and be more bombastic toward Republicans who try to walk away from centering policy on American citizens first. The coalition he built will follow him.
Like many, I was Trump skeptical in 2016 and did not vote for either major party candidate. I was sure he was going to be nearly as liberal as Hillary Clinton. Early in his administration, the rhetoric bothered me. As the administration progressed, it started mattering less. If you could peel the tweets off the accomplishments, Trump’s presidency is something pretty special. The progress in the Middle East, a region that has been on fire my entire life, is amazing all by itself.
Trump’s economic miracle, the focus on border security, law and order, and unabashed love of this country won him historic levels of minority support. His election started to peel away core Democrat constituencies in working-class populations and union rank-and-file. Republicans divorcing themselves from these obvious successes would be committing political suicide. As political consultant Brad Todd noted after the election:
“Democrats always argued, ‘If more people voted, we would win,’” says GOP strategist Brad Todd, co-author of The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics. “Well, guess what? Everybody voted, and it didn’t help the Democrats. There is a multi-racial, working-class ethos that is animating the new Republican coalition.”
The GOP is on the verge of being a huge tent. The opportunities to expand the tent will only grow over the next four years of crushing regulations, $5.00/gallon gasoline, and a continued hollowing out of Middle America. Ronna McDaniel saw this opportunity in 2016 and convinced Donald Trump he could win Michigan. She has the vision and understands how to expand this coalition better than anyone else.
If there is some GOP segment that wants to continue a corporatist approach, propping up Wall Street, which has been moving away from the party since Clinton, voters in that segment should change their party registration. This isn’t your father’s Republican Party, and if it doesn’t continue to build a new coalition, it won’t survive.