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If you would have asked the majority of Republican voters earlier this year, the notion that former President Donald Trump might not receive the GOP presidential nomination for 2024 would have been unthinkable. He was the clear frontrunner, having established himself as the leader of the party even after he left office.
The conservative base was still bitter about the outcome of the 2020 election, most believing it was stolen. Moreover, there did not appear to be anyone in the Republican intelligentsia who would, or could, dare to challenge him.
But now, things appear to have changed in a truly unexpected fashion.
Since Trump announced his intention to seek the presidency in 2024, he has hit some significant snags. Now, many are wondering if another candidate could wrest the mantle from his hands.
The shift appears to have begun when Trump attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is the GOP’s newest up-and-coming star. During a rally, Trump referred to the governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious” shortly before announcing his candidacy. He later took more potshots at DeSantis in posts on Truth Social.
This did not go over well with the base, most of whom adore Trump and DeSantis. It was seen as unnecessary and petty behavior, especially since the governor has not yet indicated whether he intends to throw his hat in the ring. DeSantis, for his part, responded to Trump’s attacks in his usual politically-savvy fashion. Some Trump supporters have attempted to tie DeSantis to the GOP establishment. But these efforts have been unsuccessful so far, and it seems Trump’s slams against the governor have largely backfired.
Next, there is the myriad of criminal investigations into the former president. As was reported last week, the anti-Trump J6 predictably recommended criminal charges against Trump for his supposed role in starting the riot at the U.S. Capitol last year. In fact, it issued four criminal referrals to the Justice Department.
There are several other investigations being conducted by the DOJ related to the 2020 election and another by a special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia.
The Washington Examiner reported:
The DOJ investigation has asked witnesses about meetings Trump held in December 2020 and January 2021 to consider actions to overturn the election, as well as the former president’s pressure campaign on former Vice President Mike Pence to assist that effort on Jan. 6.
That investigation seeks to uncover what orders Trump gave his attorneys and senior officials.
One of the investigations “centers on seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct a government proceeding,” similar to what the rioters are being charged with.
Lastly, there is the investigation related to the former president’s handling of classified documents that he took from the White House before his departure. Earlier this year, the FBI conducted a raid on his home in Mar-a-Lago and recovered over 20 boxes of classified material.
Of all the investigations being conducted, the last one is the most likely to cause enough political damage to doom Trump’s further political aspirations. The ones related to Jan. 6 are not going to have much of an impact as the nation has largely moved on from the riot. Moreover, it is abundantly obvious that these probes are motivated more by politics than an actual crime. Prosecutors will not be able to prove he incited the riot.
But the Mar-a-Lago investigation could go either way. If the Bureau fails to find any evidence of wrongdoing that rises above Hillary Clinton’s email offense, this story will backfire. However, if Trump had documents that could cause harm to the nation, it might be a different issue altogether. It might not result in a credible indictment but could cause enough harm to destroy his chances of becoming the GOP nominee.
Trump also raised eyebrows when it was reported that he had dinner with rapper Ye and white nationalist Nick Fuentes in late November at Mar-a-Lago. Naturally, members of the activist media and left-wing influencers pounced, using this as proof that the former president hates the blacks and Jews. Even after he explained that he did not know who Fuentes is, the left still pretended they were best buds.
Of course, Trump didn’t help himself by refusing to disavow Fuentes and his twisted beliefs. He reportedly was concerned that he might alienate a portion of his base. Last week, he finally stated publicly that he does not buy into Fuentes’ ideology, but it was too late.
Current polling should also be a concern for those in the Trump camp. Over the past year, every poll revealed that Republican voters preferred the former president as the nominee, with DeSantis coming in a distant second place. This is no longer the case.
The Wall Street Journal published the results of a survey showing that the governor is outpacing Trump among potential primary voters. “In a hypothetical contest between the two, Mr. DeSantis beats Mr. Trump, 52% to 38%, among likely GOP primary voters contemplating a race in which the first nomination votes will be cast in just over a year,” according to the report.
If these results are accurate, DeSantis is leading Trump by 14 percentage points without even announcing his intention to run. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll published on December 14 revealed even more disturbing news for the former president. While most Republican voters like Trump’s policies, they want a different leader to take up the America First mantle. “While 31% want the former president to run, 61% prefer some other Republican nominee who would continue the policies Trump has pursued,” the report noted.
And who do these voters want to become the new standard-bearer? You guessed it: Ron DeSantis. The survey found that the governor defeats Trump 56% to 33%.
These and other signs appear to be dire omens for a future Trump presidency. Indeed, the investigations and continual flubs likely contributed to the growing sentiment among Republican voters that they would rather have a different leader run for the White House in 2024. But setbacks notwithstanding, it is never a good idea to count Trump out. The notion that he would have ever been president in the first place seemed far out of the realm of possibility, but it happened. One thing is clear, however. Trump has a much harder road to travel this time around.