Former President Donald Trump is able to "screw" his own party with an independent or third-party run should they reject him in 2024, wrote conservative author Jonathan Last for The Bulwark on Wednesday.
Trump is currently the only Republican who has formally declared his candidacy for president, although multiple others like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley have expressed interest. Trump mainly appears focused on heading off a challenge from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, attacking him as a "RINO globalist."
"Sarah [Longwell] made a bunch of news this morning with her poll about Always Trumpers. I’m sure you’ve seen it. If not, the most interesting number is that 28 percent of Republican respondents said they’d vote for Trump over either an R or a D if he made a third-party run in 2024," said the report. "Certain members of the Match Throwing Club . . . scoffed at this idea. Ross Douthat explains that, 'Trump is unlikely to run third party and 28 percent of the GOP primary base isn't actually going to vote for a spoiler if it's DeSantis v. Biden.'"
This analysis, said Last, is just "wishcasting" — because Trump doesn't actually need to pull 28 percent of the vote to spoil the election. Just a few points could do it, given how close the last two presidential elections ended up being.
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It's impossible to know for sure whether Trump would actually run third party if he lost the nomination, wrote Last — however, "I do know that if Trump were to lose the Republican nominating contest, he could bring in a lot of money by running a third-party campaign. And if the question is: 'Trump could make a lot of money by doing X; will he do X?' Well, then the answer is usually: Yes."
Notably, polling doesn't indicate that it's likely Trump will lose the GOP nomination in the first place, with recent Morning Consult numbers suggesting he leads the pack by 17 points.