He’s already won a presidential election and lost one. So which way will things go in 2024?
So now we consider whether he could win a general election.
The case for Trump winning in 2024
Trump’s chances don’t look great in a general election in 2024, if you look at the polls or listen to the pundits.
But the polling was off in 2016, and off by even more in 2020.
The difference being the polls showed a narrow Hillary Clinton win in 2016 and a landslide for Joe Biden four years later.
In the end it was a narrow win for Trump in 2016 and a narrow win for Biden in 2020.
The key takeaway being that Trump has a long history of defying the polls and confounding expectations.
The truth remains that Trump has a powerful appeal to a broad segment of the US population, and most of those supporters haven’t dithered since 2016.
The bigger factor in Trump’s favour is most Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.
It is somewhat likely the US will go into a recession between now and November 2024.
And Biden, who is his most likely opponent, remains unpopular.
Biden will be almost 82 in 2024, and he is not getting any younger.
Trump will be 78 in 2024, a comparative spring chicken.
And Trump has the ability to tap into the grievances of American voters.
Despite being a New Yorker born into wealth and privilege, Trump has successfully pitched himself as a hero of the rural poor.
And the design of the US electoral system favours rural voters over those living in states dominated by big cities.
The case against Trump winning in 2024
Midway through Trump’s campaign announcement speech, Fox News cut away to a political discussion panel.
CNN had cut away ten minutes earlier. MSNBC didn’t air the speech at all.
The confronting reality for the former president is this: he’s not exciting anymore.
His speech could have been lifted nearly wholesale from a 2016 campaign rally.
And those policy positions won’t fly when his opponent can ask – if you can fix these problems, why didn’t you do it when you were president?
The only change Trump has made is that he is talking more about how he should have been elected in 2020.
This may satiate his own ego, but it is not a good way to win over new voters.
But his speech was not only familiar, his delivery was tired.
Since the announcement, Trump has not left Florida or held any other political events.
The question is, does Trump want to be president again enough to throw himself through the rigours of a campaign?
And there’s a bigger problem for Trump. He is being investigated by the Department of Justice for two potentially serious crimes. He is also under investigation by state courts in New York and Georgia.
It is entirely possible he will face criminal charges this year, and spend a substantial amount of time in court – if not jail.
And in spite of Biden’s unpopularity, the sitting president remains ahead of Trump in the polls.
If Biden steps aside, there’s a handful of younger Democrats who could make Trump look like the older, less exciting candidate.
Trump’s biggest advantage in 2016 was that he was an outsider, someone without a political record to run on.
But in 2024, his opponent can use his time in the White House against him – the mismanagement of the COVID pandemic, the steep 2020 recession, his litany of staffing problems, his friendly relations with authoritarians and his alienation of his allies.
The case against Trump being elected president in 2024 seems weaker than in 2016.
But the pundits were wrong then too.