The race for the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2024 presidential elections in the United States is about to officially begin. And while former President Donald Trump had already announced his intentions to run for the position at the end of last year, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will jump into the fray in the coming days.
This is a very interesting development, as until recently the name of Trump seemed inevitable and there was little interest in challenging a former president who, even two years after leaving the White House, remains very popular among the base of the party.
That dynamic, however, changed after the legislative elections of November 2022, when the Republicans performed poorly, although they had the ground served to sweep.
Internally, many blame Trump and a selection of candidates made in his image and likeness who married the fable that there was fraud in the 2020 presidential elections and assumed extreme positions that did not resonate with the majority of voters.
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And while Haley, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations during the Republican’s presidency, is not seen as the main threat to his supremacy, the simple fact that she wants to challenge her former boss for the reins speaks volumes. of the particular moment that the party of the elephant lives.
Haley’s announcement also coincides with a series of developments that have begun to shape the race. A few days ago, American for Prosperity, a powerful network of donors and political activists led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch, announced that he will not endorse Trump and will put all his muscle to work to run another name.
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The best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter
“The best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter. Many people are frustrated. But very few are in a position to do anything about it. We do. The time has come to rise to this challenge,” the organization said in a statement.
Koch’s group thus joins other groups such as the Club for Growth – also from conservative donors – and other billionaires such as Kenneth Griffin and Stephen Schwarzman who have also announced their opposition.
Even more telling is that many other heavyweights in US politics have, for the moment, avoided coming out to support Trump.. Among them, the evangelical leaders who were key in his 2016 victory and in his 2020 candidacy. The former president, in fact, attacked them for remaining silent, calling them “disloyal.”
Likewise, the Trump campaign does not seem to be generating the same attention either. Since he announced his candidacy on November 15, Trump has raised just $10 million in contributions, a fraction of what other frontrunners have racked up in the past by announcing his aspirations. This added to the fact that he went from filling stadiums at his campaign events to only modest audiences.
“What we’re seeing is that both from the perspective of the general public and from large donors there is a desire for someone else to represent them,” says Emily Seidel, who represents Koch’s organization.
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In addition to Haley, there are others who have already been sounding like potential rivals. They included former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. Although, among all, especially the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, is on the rise.
According to the average of polls published by the 538 portal, Trump continues to be the favorite among the base, where he accumulates 41 percent of the intention to vote, followed by DeSantis – who has not yet announced his candidacy – with 31 percent. . But these are national polls that include at least five potential candidates.
However, in polls where only Trump and DeSantis appear head to head, it is the governor of Florida who comes out ahead (with 48% vs. 43% for Trump).
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Despite this, David Urban, a political adviser to the Republican Party and who was an adviser to Trump in the past, says that, for the moment, the former president has everything to win. “If the primaries have a normal course where multiple candidates are launched, as expected, there is no way to defeat Trump, who this time starts the race with more than 40 percent of the base already in his pocket,” says Urban .
In fact, for Urban, his path to the nomination is much easier than in 2016, when he started as an outsider with few options and consolidated as the primaries passed.
On that occasion, the now former president won the race with less than 50% of the vote, largely because the party fractured among 15 other candidates who stayed in the race until it was too late.
Analysts like David Byler, a data expert at The Washington Post, believe the party is making the same mistake now. At least among those who think that betting on Trump again could translate into a new defeat, not only presidential, but also legislative.
There is no way to defeat Trump, who this time starts the race with more than 40 percent of the base
For Byler, the more candidates pitched, the better his chances. That is why there are those who believe that the former president’s strategy is to provoke more challenges to dilute the anti-Trump vote, since his worst scenario is that few are launched and the opposition quickly concentrates on a single name, which could be DeSantis.
(You can read: Donald Trump: With what atmosphere does his new attempt for the presidency start?)
At the same time, on the Democratic side there has been a tense calm. According the surveys, a large majority of voters in this party do not want President Joe Biden to run for re-election. This is reflected in their popularity ratings, which do not rise more than 45%, although the country’s economic situation is improving.
But last week, during the State of the Union address, the president hinted that he has every intention of seeking a second term. And although the president cleared up many doubts about his mental and physical capacity with an energetic and coherent intervention, not a few fear that at 80 he is not the best candidate to retain the White House.
In any case, at least as far as the Republicans are concerned, a race is coming to rent a balcony.
SERGIO GOMEZ MASERI
On Twitter @sergom68
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