The upcoming 48 hours should help clarify Donald Trump’s viability for the 2024 presidential election.
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Trump is, of course, the former President of the United States and the Republican Party’s back-to-back presidential nominee. But Trump’s stock has taken a hit in the last few months; lawsuits and scandals and investigations are chipping away at Trump’s popularity while capable challengers, namely Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, are beginning to assert themselves.
Yet, the outlook for Trump remains fuzzy. The next 48 hours will help us better understand where Trump stands.
Donald Trump: Can He Dominate the GOP?
First, the RNC is hosting a secret ballot election between Ronna McDaniel and Harmeet Dhillon (and technically Mike Lindell, too) in Dana Point, California. Then, Trump will fly to New Hampshire for a discussion with the New Hampshire Republican Party.
Afterward, Trump will head to South Carolina for what is billed as his first significant campaign event of the 2024 election. Both New Hampshire and South Carolina are significant locations; in New Hampshire, the Sununu family is dominant – and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has been critical of Donald Trump, saying it’s time for change. And South Carolina is the home state for two of Trump’s most powerful rivals: Senator Tim Scott and former Governor Nikki Haley.
“Put bluntly,” TIME wrote, “Trump faces a trio of tests that he needs to ace.”
Observers have been unclear of what to make of the Trump campaign so far. “But by the time the sun rises on Sunday, we may have a much clearer sense of whether the Trump 2024 bid is a machine to be feared, a fixer-upper that is a value buy, or a phantom bully deflating with its first pin prick.”
How Much Influence Does Trump Have?
While Donald Trump has not officially endorsed McDaniel for RNC chair (he said the candidates would just have to fight it out), his preference for McDaniel is known.
But Trump’s abysmal midterm performance, in which his endorsees lost all but one battleground contest, may have reduced his influence in the RNC election.
Similarly, Trump’s preferred candidate, McDaniel, has also performed abysmally in elections since taking the helm. Under McDaniel “Republicans have seen a net loss of three Seante seats, 19 House seats, and seven governorships. Oh, and the White House,” TIME wrote. “That was a big one, which might render Trump’s preference a little less potent given she was at the helm when he became the first incumbent President to lose re-election since George H.W. Bush in 1992.”
In New Hampshire, Trump has had mixed results. In 2016, Trump beat out his better-organized primary rivals – suggesting, for the first time, that Trump may have some sincere political appeal. Trump also came within one-third of one point of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. The Clintons have always fared well in New Hampshire, which is where Bill salvaged his 1992 candidacy. New Hampshire helped Trump prove that he was for real. But in 2020, Trump got schlocked in the Granite State, losing to Biden with a seven point margin.
In South Carolina, things could get messy. Trump may likely be competing for votes against two South Carolina darlings. Haley is Trump’s former UN Ambassador and the former South Carolina governor whose first-generation background has political weight. And then there’s Tim Scott, the state’s only black Republican lawmaker.
Neither Haley nor Scott have declared their 2024 candidacy – but both would complicate Trump’s path to victory in South Carolina.
So, the next 48 hours are essential for Trump. McDaniel needs to win the RNC election, and Donald Trump needs to court some favor in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.