Those afraid that the 2024 GOP presidential contest will become a repeat of 2016 need not worry. The race is radically different this year. It will not play out the same.
First, former President Donald Trump is greatly diminished compared to 2015, when he first glided down his escalator at Trump Tower in New York City to announce his campaign.
Second, the rest of next year’s budding GOP candidates are well-acquainted with the former president’s playbook and will know how to fight him.
Instead of a repeat of 2016, 2024 looks more like a continuation of what we saw in 2020: Trump cannot compete anywhere new, and he cannot put any new voters or states in play. In short, he’s playing a losing game of being able to attract only voters who had previously supported him.
A large field of qualified candidates is setting up the Republican primaries for a repeat of 2016.
While he can still persuade many GOP donors to send their hard-earned dollars to his campaign, his political message now falters more than it inspires. Plus, the party has produced a few non-Trump grievance candidates, so voters still attracted to that style of messaging now have options they didn’t have in 2016.
(A word of advice to them: Don’t go easy on Trump out of fear that his voters won’t return to you in the fall. None of them will ultimately vote for President Joe Biden.)
- In 2018, when the GOP lost the House.
- In 2020, when Republicans lost the presidency and the Senate twice (on Election Night and again on runoff day in Georgia).
- In 2022, when Republicans failed to take the Senate and narrowly captured the House during a midterm election when the party out of power historically does much better.
This is driving the entry of so many new candidates and so much new funding.
And don’t forget the myriad legal issues Trump faces in multiple jurisdictions from local, state and federal prosecutors. Unlike the civil trial he legally skipped recently in New York, he would need to actually attend any criminal trial, say in Fulton County, Georgia, or in federal court. Besides sapping his time, this would forcefully reiterate to the country in general, and to Republican primary voters in particular, that Trump is damaged goods, on the decline and — most important — the only GOP nominee who could lose to Biden.