When I meet people and they find out I am a political reporter, they inevitably – and immediately – ask some version of this question: “Is he going to run again? And can he win?”
The “he” there – just in case you’ve spent the last six years on another planet – is Donald Trump.
And the answers to those questions are “probably yes” and “definitely.” As in, yes, Trump is probably going to run for president again in 2024. And, yes, he would have a very real chance of winning.
Let’s take the second half of that question first. A new Wall Street Journal poll shows Trump and President Joe Biden each at 45% among registered voters in a hypothetical 2024 matchup, results that are largely unchanged since the last time WSJ asked the question in November.
The simple fact is that if the 2020 presidential race was re-run today, it would effectively be a pure toss up.
Which, if you think about it, makes sense. While Biden took more than 300 electoral votes, his margins in a series of swing states – like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – were decidedly narrow. And had those states gone for Trump, he would have almost certainly been reelected.
Now, that is putting the cart before the horse. So, let’s return to the first question: Will Trump run?
If you believe him, then yes.
“We’ve already won two presidential elections,” Trump told a group of Republican donors in New Orleans recently. (Fact check: he won the 2016 election and lost the 2020 election.) “And now I feel obligated that we have to really look strongly at doing it again. We are looking at it very, very strongly. We have to do it. We have to do it.”
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida late last month, Trump sounded a similar note. “On November 2024, they will find out like never before,” he said. “We did it twice and we’ll do it again, we’re going to be doing it again a third time.” (Trump won a 2024 straw poll at CPAC with ease.)
It may be hard to believe given all Trump has said and done since leaving office – repeatedly pushing a false conspiracy about the 2020 election, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin as a genius – that he is a) an overwhelming favorite for the Republican nomination and b) a coin toss, at worst, to win the 2024 general election.
But, it’s true.
The Point: Trump is the least predictable politician, well, ever. Which means that you can never bank of anything with him – including another run for president. But, man does it look and sound like he is going to run again. And, yes, he can win.