Trump, the “gift” that keeps on giving

I’m starting to root for Donald Trump for 2024 Republican Party presidential nominee.

I don’t actually want him to be president again, unsurprisingly. And I admit just as he surprised us in 2016 by actually winning the Electoral College, he might do so again in 2024. But I suspect that any other Republican nominee would have a much better chance of winning a general election than Trump would have.

Trump’s narcissism though is sort of a gift for Democrats. The more he is out there, the easier it is for Democrats to win elections. That’s because when he’s out there, elections become a choice between the less-than-perfect Democratic president and Congress and what he has to offer.

Before the 2020 election, I noted that a majority of voters polled had repeatedly said they would not vote for Trump. That’s how an otherwise milquetoast candidate like Joe Biden was able to crush Trump’s reelection bid by 4.4 percent and 7.1 million votes. Voters weren’t largely voting for Biden; they were voting against Trump.

And it wasn’t the first time. In 2018, Trump’s polarization caused Republicans to lose the House, adding 41 Democratic seats. Only in the Senate did Republicans add two seats, seats that were short lived when in 2020 Democrats unexpectedly picked up two senate seats, both in Georgia of all places.

In two months we’ll know if the Trump effect still exists. If Democrats retain Congress or even add seats, it’s likely because once again voters are motivated by Trump, just more against his candidates than for them. A conservative Supreme Court isn’t helping. Women are registering to vote disproportionately this year, and polling suggests it’s largely due to the court’s unwelcome Dobbs decision removing abortion rights in many states. While Trump has enjoyed success in getting his endorsed candidates winning their primaries, as even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has noted their quality is suspect. It’s pretty clear Mitch McConnell doesn’t expect to win back a Republican Senate majority in November.

Probably the best thing that could have happened to the Republican Party was if Trump had just shut up and played golf. Candidate quality probably would have improved as candidates would likely have leaned more centrist and thus more electable. Without Trump’s constant bloviating, it would be much easier to frame the midterms around Democratic Party failures. But by sucking all the oxygen out of the room, once more, it’s become largely a referendum on Trump.

Thankfully, Joe Biden is taking the issue head on, calling out MAGA Republicans as a threat to democracy. I wonder what took him so long, but clearly it has traction. Even Republicans seem to have a hard time denying the obvious, since they are working so hard to make elections unfair so their candidates win disproportionately. At a visceral level, voters seems to understand Biden is simply stating the truth. This may explain why the generic ballot question now shows a majority of voters preferring a Democratic to a Republican candidate in November’s elections, not to mention Biden’s improving approval ratings.

Trump is a polarizing figure and always has been. You either love him or loath him and in general the more you come to know him, the more you come to loath him. He won’t change who he is to appeal to a wider audience. So as long as he’s going to be around anyhow, Democrats might as well try to use him to their advantage. At least they can go to voters and truthfully say, “At least we’re better than that guy!” And a majority of voters are likely to agree. So, yeah, Trump for Republican presidential nominee in 2024! It seems a pretty safe bet, or should, if the midterms benefit Democrats.

No wonder Trump wants to rig future elections. It’s the only way that he can “win”. A majority of Americans simply can’t stand him.

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