The former President now has a clear lead over the Democrat
There has only been one President to have served two-non consecutive terms in America. That was Grover Cleveland over 100 years ago, but could Donald Trump become the second? A year ago, in the wake of the Capitol riot, that seemed very unlikely. For one thing, his permanent suspension by Twitter, Facebook and other platforms has denied him his perch on social media. And yet, in the course of 2021, it became clear that Trump was firmly established as the front runner for the Republican nomination in 2024.
Trump (R): 46%
Biden (D): 40%
Trump (R): 49%
Harris (D): 39%
DeSantis (R): 40%
Harris (D): 39%
Harris Poll / January 20, 2022 / n=1815 / Online
— Polling USA (@USA_Polling) January 25, 2022
In a hypothetical Biden-versus-Trump contest in 2024, Trump beats Biden by six points. That compares to the 2020 result in which Biden took 51.3% of the popular vote to Trump’s 46.9%.
Given his age, there’s a significant chance that President Biden won’t run for re-election. But if Vice President Kamala Harris runs instead, then the polling shows Trump winning by ten points — and there hasn’t been a victory that emphatic since Ronald Reagan trounced Walter Mondale in 1984.
Of course, a lot could happen between now and the actual election in almost three years time. It’s by no means certain that Trump will even run again. One theory — advanced by Philip Bump in the Washington Post — is that “Trump is losing to Trumpism”. The idea is that having remade the Republicans in his own image, Trump is no longer the only Trumpian candidate — the party faithful now have a choice of younger models.
One of the leading Trump-alternatives is Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida. He enjoys high net approval ratings, but when he’s paired against Kamala Harris in a hypothetical 2024 Presidential contest he only wins by a single percentage point (see above).
It’s not surprising that the clearest signifier of Trumpism is still Donald Trump himself. But what will come as a surprise to many — indeed a shock — is that the brand is back in favour.