Split Ahead?

22 November 2022


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Trump Poses Problems for GOP, Win or Lose


Donald Trump has announced his candidacy for the White House, and it creates a serious, perhaps lethal, set of problems for the Republican Party. He retains a stranglehold on the craziest, most militant faction of the right. Some leaders of the party have come out against him, saying that it was time for the GOP to move on. Others are notable for their silence. The big change for many is that the former president no longer feels like a winner. He picked several candidates for the mid-terms, and despite his endorsement, or because of it, they lost. The Republicans need to purge the party of the crazies, but as things stand now, a split or more likely than a purge.

Mr. Trump has a good 30% of the party in his pocket, much as he did in 2016. The party uses a first-past-the-post system of vote counting, and many of the states are winner-take-all. That means that a race with 4 or more candidates can go to a candidate with 30% of the vote, and he would get all the delegates from that state. This was the problem the anti-Trump Republicans had in 2016. He was running against 15 or so others, and that was perfect for his situation. If the party keeps the rules as they are, even 2 non-Trump candidates could leave the former president as the nominee.

If he is the nominee, one has to like the chances of the Democrats in keeping the White House. In 2016, he lost the popular vote by 3 million. In 2020, he lost the popular vote by 7 million and the electoral college went against him. Familiarity bred contempt, and it cost him. Greater familiarity after the relative quiet of the last two years should make him even less palatable to many. As the nominee, one would expect him to lose again, perhaps by as much as 10 million votes. After all, the economy in 2 years will be much stronger than it is now. Mr. Biden is having an economic problem at the same stage in his presidency as Messrs. Reagan, Clinton and Obama had in theirs. Each won a second terms handily.

That, for the GOP, is one of the better scenarios. The other major possibility is that he loses the nomination. If that happens, the question is whether he tries a third-party run or not. For many candidates in that kind of a situation, a third-party campaign leads to defeat. What the GOP must fear is that, in departing, Mr. Trump will take almost all his supporters with him. Unlike some third-party candidates (e.g., John Anderson in 1980 or Ross Perot in 1992), Mr. Trump has very little cross-party support anymore. The number of 2020 Biden voters willing to back Mr. Trump in 2024 could fit in a taxi cab. He would ensure a GOP defeat if he left.

Donald Trump, however, would be just fine with all of that. The important thing to him is that the grift continues. He loves being able to solicit and receive money from his fans that he can spend as he likes. If he is running a third-party effort, and losing the campaign while doing so, he can manage to keep this swindle going for years. If he wins the nomination, he will have very little time to raise money. If he loses as a Republican again, he is finished. If he wins, it all ends in four years by constitutional rules. But if he can run and lose every four years, this can go on until the Grim Reaper calls.

Should he win the nomination, his fans will also win places on the ballot for the November general election. Some of them will win even if he flames out (again) as a presidential candidate. They will still be in the party, and they will keep this cancerous ideology in the party.

The best possible thing for the GOP is to nominate someone else, watch Mr. Trump leave and take his followers with him. It will cost them the 2024 election, but it would make the party credible for 2028. Otherwise, they could be losing in 2032 because the Trumpists never left.

Of course, he could win the White House (a long shot, but possible), and that would obviate the need for the party to do anything. Future elections would be largely meaningless.

© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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