IN THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL RACE
BY ERBIL GUNASTI
Discounting Donald Trump is not a new game, but it’s a popular one right now.
Trump, they say, stands no chance against the reassuringly slick Ron de Santis, governor of Florida and widely thought to be his main rival for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential race.
De Santis is younger and more convincing, a manifestly better politician with greater reach – and helpfully without the posturing and crude misogyny.
We’re told that Trump’s egregious behaviour has all-but destroyed his chances, that millions of natural Republican sympathisers will never vote for him again.
He faces a tangles array of Federal investigations and lawsuits. Influential republicans dismiss him as a fantasist.
Trump: Much Further Ahead
We’ve been here before, after all. Trump was widely discounted in the 2016 race – treated as a joke candidate, in fact. But they weren’t laughing when the polling stations closed.
The first thing to consider is the sheer size of the electoral advantage Trump currently holds.
We’re a year and a half from polling day, yet his guaranteed support is estimated at 30 million.
With the likely total of Republican voters ranging from 75-80 million, this is a substantial head-start.
Other recent figures suggest that Trump commands the support of 43 per cent of registered Republicans, that de Santis has 31 per cent while Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, the only Republican rival to throw her hat into the ring so far, can only muster four per cent.
She’s a woman and from the southern states, two important advantages in the current climate, but she’s still a minnow. For the moment, at least.
Whatever the critics might prefer to believe, Trump is much, much further ahead than he was when he joined the race for 2016.
Trump has the recognition. (Nikki Haley, anyone?)
He has the funds. He has fervent – and entrenched – supporters in both houses of Congress.
As a former occupant of the Oval Office, he has access to the sort of networks and advice that were beyond him the first time round.