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Republicans Are Questioning Whether They Want Trump Again

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Chris Seward

There are rumblings out there, rumblings that have increased noticeably in recent weeks, that maybe it’s time to say “Thanks” to President Trump for his yeoman service and move on. It’s nothing personal, just business – everyone appreciates the president’s accomplishments, most notably his taking a sledgehammer to the garbage bipartisan establishment and its media toadies. But we need to win next time. Up until lately, it seemed like the base was all-in on the Donald pulling the full Grover Cleveland and returning in 2024 to vanquish noted border-avoider Kamala Harris, since it’s pretty obvious that the Asterisk is not going to stagger over the four-year finish line. Yet cons are now clearly considering their options.


Intrigued by the word I was hearing on the street – I’m like the Huggy Bear of conservatism – I ran a poll on my @KurtSchlichter Twitter account to check my extremely Trump-friendly audience leanings. I expected about 65 percent would be all in on the president heading into round two. I got something very different.

First, I set the ground rules and assumptions:

My poll on President Trump in 2024... Pick who you intend to support as of today.


1. You'd support the GOP nominee if your guy lost the nomination. [US Flag emoji]

2. @RichardGrenell will be the VP because we want 16 years of him total. [Crown emoji]

3. Brian Stelter is a potato.

Then I got to the poll itself, and what I found was shocking. In 24 hours, 21,370 conservatives voted. Here are the stunning results: 

The “Some Jeb!ite like Nikki!,” option, in which we would to return to a 2005-ish regime of managed decline and submission to our establishment overlords, garners a puny and impotent 1.3 percent of the votes. I guess the Cheneymania spawned by the Beltway Cowgirl’s brave fight against conservative success is a non-starter. Perhaps the lack of mean tweets has not made up for the overseas humiliation, growing crime, and rampant inflation under President *, and most of the GOP Sissy Caucus has come around.

The “Someone else who is woke” faction wants another Republican instead of one of the top two contenders. It drew 2.8%. Hey, that’s good – at least they want someone conservawoke.


Then the two titans, President Trump and the guy I wish was my governor, Ron DeSantis…

Mighty Donald Trump … 45.7%

Relentless Ron DeSantis … 50.1%.


Basically, 54.3% of hardcore Republicans, because my Twitter feed is definitely not squish-friendly, are ready to hand the President a gold watch, thank him for his service, and move on. This tracks with a lot of what prominent conservatives have been saying in the background; what’s notable is that now the base is speaking it aloud. For the last six months, people were ticked off about the manifestly rigged election – via a combo of outright fraud, unlawful election changes, and media/establishment intervention on behalf of Grandpa Badfinger – and they wanted vengeance. But success is the best revenge, and people are now, as their emotions cool, evaluating the situation less emotionally and more ruthlessly. They want to win, and that’s all they care about.

Who has the best chance of winning?

It might be Donald Trump. He was certainly the right guy in 2016, but when 2024 rolls around, it will be eight years later – nearly a decade, once you count the 2016 election cycle. The sledgehammer that was necessary then might not be the right tool for the job now. Trump’s strengths brought amazing achievements, but his weaknesses opened him up to stunning setbacks. People are asking if we really want to litigate his presidency again. And the answer they seem to be giving is that their focus is on winning the election rather than winning the argument over the past.


Now, this phenomenon cannot be understood as a repudiation of Trump. It isn’t – we dig him. While many are critical of some of his actions and omissions – as the head honcho, the GOP’s total failure to prepare for the disputed election is on Trump despite him being let down by subordinates because the commander is always responsible for what his unit does and fails to do – they are not anti-Trump. If the correlation of forces makes Trump the most likely to win, then the sentiment will flow back his way. This is not about Trump per se, but rather about victory.

Ron DeSantis has provided a powerful alternative going forward. He does not do the social media warfare thing (which I and others loved, but a lot of people did not). Instead, he simply piles achievement upon achievement, everything from fixing election rules to regulating big tech to allowing you to defend your family when dirty, stinky Antifa/BLM creeps surround you and your family in your car. And he’s not omnipresent – remember that supporting Trump is a 24/7 occupation. There’s always a fight going on. We’re down for the struggle, but people get tired. Ron DeSantis’ model is not being out there all the time. We needed a media superstar in 2016; people are right to consider whether we do or do not in 2024.

There are other concerns. Did Trump learn his lessons about personnel? That was always his weak point, and the way he was impressed by medal-bedecked generals who inevitably screwed him over led to the woke joke that is today’s Pentagon. Will he get indicted by some Democrat and let the media to make that the story rather than the hellscape into which America is descending under this *dministration? Will he be able to use social media again (though, frankly, by banning him and letting him recede from the public eye temporarily, the tech fascists might have inadvertently done him a favor).


And, at 78, will he be too old? After our current Crusty-in-Chief, do we need another boomer president?

The betting from the in-the-know crowd is mixed. My pal Seb Gorka thinks he will run. Others are unsure. Some say “No.” I don’t know the answer, but I tend to think not. He’s already gone down in history, and he’s in the process of being vindicated on just about every decision he made. Does he need the hassle? No. He has to want it, and I don’t know if he does.

We still adore the President, and we are grateful. If he’s the nominee, then all but the Jeb! types in the GOP will be all-in. But what’s clear is that the idea that 2024 is a gimme for him is wrong. It’s nothing personal, just business – and Trump may well understand that. The nomination is not his for the taking; if he wants it, he’ll have to earn it all over again. And we all know how betting against Donald Trump goes.

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