Hi, this is Hot Mic and I’m Nidhi Razdan.
Donald Trump has just announced that he will seek another shot at the US presidency in the next election in 2024. But will he be the Republican Party’s candidate this time? For many reasons, this may not quite turn out the way Trump had hoped. The Republican Party seems to be set with a degree of Trump fatigue. The party performed underwhelmingly in the recent US midterm polls, losing the Senate to the Democrats. And they appear to be getting a slim majority in the House of Representatives. It’s a far cry from the red wave that the Republicans had predicted earlier and in fact has turned out to be the best showing for a sitting president’s party in decades. The biggest loser was Donald Trump. Most of the candidates that he backed lost their elections. Many of these were conspiracy theorists or election deniers. Those who said that Joe Biden’s win in 2020 was a fraud, a claim that Trump has tried to hammer on since losing to Biden back then.
So, for example, in Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman defeated the Republican Mehmet Oz to flip a Senate seat while the Democrat, Josh Shapiro, won the governor’s race against the Republican candidate. In Arizona, Kari Lake and Blake Masters – both of whom followed Trump’s playbook – both lost to their Democratic counterparts for governor and the Senate, respectively. Even where a Trump endorsed candidate won, it was by a poorer margin. Like in Ohio, the Republican J.D Vance did score a Senate win, but took 53% of the vote to hold that state’s Senate seat for the Grand Old Party. Other Republican candidates for statewide offices, however, won roughly 60% of the vote. So much more. Now that has left many in the Republican Party to ask whether the wild conspiracy theories and the extreme positions have cost them the midterms, and therefore whether Trump is still the man to back for the top job. And there’s another factor a new face in the Republican Party who is seen as less right wing Ron DeSantis, who just won an overwhelming reelection as the governor of Florida and is now the new rising star of the Republican Party.
Even the right wing media appears to have abandoned Trump. The New York Post, which has been one of his biggest supporters in the past, declared the Florida governor as DeFUTURE on its front page. Then there was an article by Fox News which reported that Trump was, as they put it, blasted across the media spectrum, describing the former president as the biggest loser tonight. Now, Trump knows that DeSantis is the biggest threat that he faces today in his road to the White House, which is why he mockingly called him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and also said, “I think that if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. I think the base will not like it. It won’t be good for the party.” And then he went on to threaten that he would reveal “things” about DeSantis. “that won’t be very flattering,” as he put it.
Now, just ahead of Trump’s presidential announcement, there were also a series of surveys done by a conservative group which showed that in a head-to-head contest with Ron DeSantis, Trump was trailing by a big margin among Republican voters in crucial states like Iowa and New Hampshire. These are two states which actually vote early in the Republican nomination process. DeSantis is also leading against Trump by 26 points in Florida and 20 points in the state of Georgia. Now, all of this clearly shows that Trump at the moment is not very popular among Republican voters. And that DeSantis is ahead in any head-to-head contest.
This time, Trump will also not be entering the race on a blank slate. Having been president for one term already, he will be judged on his past record and on his role in the January 6 Capitol Hill riots. He’s also facing some very serious legal problems, including a criminal election tampering inquiry in the state of Georgia, a civil fraud case targeting his business empire in New York, a defamation lawsuit that also involves a sexual assault allegation and also probes into his role in the Capitol Hill attack. Also, his post-presidential handling of classified material. Not all of the Republican Party’s midterm losses are Trump’s fault, however. The Supreme Court ruling on abortion also played a big role, according to surveys. But it’s also clear that Trump’s road to the White House this time has got much steeper.
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