In 2016, Donald Trump beat a horribly flawed Hillary Clinton with a huge assist from James Comey and the Russians. That election was his high water mark. Since then, the Republican Party has been on the losing side in national, state and local elections in 2018, 2020, and 2022. Why? Because Donald Trump either hand-picked candidates solely for their willingness to be loyal to him, or because the Democrats made the election into a referendum on Trump. Except in extremely GOP-loyal areas, being tied to Trump is a guaranteed way to lose in a general election.
Donald Trump is the ultimate puppet master – he pulls the strings and the GOP leadership dances. While the majority of American voters are appalled at Trump’s calls for vengeance and violence, the GOP House Leadership is locked into their own conservative media echo chamber and reacting only to the loudest voices from the radical fringe right. They are eagerly following Trump’s wishes in mischaracterizing the pending legal actions; once again linking themselves to a paranoid narcissist who’s only allegiance is to himself.
As the leadership ties itself ever more tightly to the January 6 insurrectionists and Trump, they are committing electoral suicide. By supporting him now, they are making it impossible to distance themselves from him in the future. By the time of the 2024 Primaries, Trump is likely to be under criminal indictments by New York City, Fulton County Georgia, the DOJ, and possibly others. Trump has already lost one case against the State of New York, and he’s at risk of being banned from owning any business in New York. Trump’s lawyers will slow walk the legal processes so that none of these cases will have gone to trial, so he will do anything he can to get elected and be safe. As the investigations progress, he will hurl more unhinged and vulgar accusations at all who are accusing him. His rhetoric will virtually guarantee that one or more of his devoted followers will unleash violence which, because of their embrace of Trump, the GOP will then own.
Because of Trump’s devoted hardcore base among the 30% of GOP voters most likely to vote in Primaries, he will likely still win the nomination. Given the power he has in the party, he will again recruit unelectable candidates for numerous national and state races on the basis of devotion to him. If GOP voters eventually wise up and he is not the nominee, he will declare the Primaries rigged and sabotage the Party’s choice.
Beyond the core GOP base, Trump has no support and no ability to increase or broaden his base. He only wants true believers, and he has no interest or ability in wooing independents. Unlike in 2016, all Americans now know who he really is. His numbers can never go up – only down.
Donald Trump wants to become President so that he can use the power of the Presidency protect himself from indictments and to extract revenge on those who have wronged him. Americans understand this, and the vast majority of them have zero interest in being complicit in it. In a national election, his ability to attract more than 40% of the electorate is nil. Not only can he not win the recent battleground states, in a presidential election he would likely lose even solid GOP states. And as Trump goes down, so will countless other GOP candidates in elections at all levels.
None of this is lost on the strategists in the GOP. Since 2016 the GOP leadership has held its nose and supported Trump, fearing that without his base they had no chance. Now, as long as Trump is around they are doomed. If they had either brains or courage, they would cut Trump loose, knowing that they would pay a short-term price. But they have neither, so they will follow him to their doom.