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Wall Street Journal warns Republicans: ‘Trump won’t win another election’ | Trump impeachment (2021)


In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s second acquittal in an impeachment trial, his supporters celebrated his confirmed dominance of the Republican party. But as they did so an influential voice warned: “Mr Trump may run again, but he won’t win another national election.”

The Wall Street Journal also said moves by Trump other than a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, including a “revenge campaign tour” or third-party run, would only “divide the centre-right and elect Democrats”.

No one so much as Democrats wishes for that analysis to be true: that if he insists on remaining a loud voice in US politics, he will succeed only in electing more Democrats.

But the fantasy of Trump’s summary departure from the national political stage is to be guarded against, many warn – and the notion that Trump cannot win the White House again in 2024 has been rejected on both the left and the right.

“Trump could win again because it is always a choice between two” candidates, tweeted the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, in reply to the Journal editorial.

Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, by 306-232 in the electoral college and by more than 7m votes nationwide. But Biden is the oldest president ever inaugurated and though he has said he may seek a second term, by election day 2024 he will be 81. That contest could yet pit Trump against Vice-President Kamala Harris or other Democrats whose viability as a top-of-ticket candidate has not been tested.

About half of Republicans want Trump to remain as head of their party. But half of American voters want him banished from US politics altogether, according to a CNBC poll this month that echoed other surveys. Unfortunately for Trump, there are a lot more Americans than there are Republicans – and with tens of thousands having left the party after the Capitol Hill attack on 6 January, that gap is growing every day.

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On Saturday, seven Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting to convict Trump on a charge of insurrection arising from the Capitol riot. The defections were significant, the most against a president of their own party in any impeachment trial, but the vote still fell 10 short of the two-thirds majority needed.

Many Republicans, most notably minority leader Mitch McConnell, excoriated Trump’s behaviour but said they voted to acquit because the trial was unconstitutional. Scholars dispute that, and the Senate voted twice to proceed.

Right now, for Trump 2024, the political math looks bad. But the factors on Trump’s side, including fundraising muscle and a rabidly devoted base, are plain to see. Trump raised more than $250m after the November election on the back of his lie that it was stolen – and he has promised to stick around.

“We have so much work ahead of us,” Trump said in a statement following his acquittal on Saturday, “and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future”.

State Republican parties back him. At least four Republicans who voted to convict were were on the receiving end of sharp rebukes from colleagues back home. Such skirmishes could be further signs of how Trump threatens to pull the party apart at the seams.

“It’s hard to imagine Republicans winning national elections without Trump supporters anytime soon,” the GOP strategist Alex Conant told Reuters. “The party is facing a real catch-22: it can’t win with Trump but it’s obvious it can’t win without him either.”

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Even more troubling for those with concerns about the strength of US democracy, the continuation of Trumpian politics by a younger conservative figure – Senator Josh Hawley or Fox News host Tucker Carlson, perhaps – could render moot the question of whether Trump himself is onstage. In this thinking, a candidate as indifferent to democracy as Trump but better at organizing his party could succeed in a power grab where Trump failed.

Monday’s editorial casting doubt on Trump’s prospects came from a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, a dominant voice on the American right. It echoed moves by Murdoch, the New York Post, the Journal and his other powerful media outlet, Fox News, last November, in the immediate aftermath of an election Trump still refuses to admit he lost.

On its news pages on Monday, under the headline Pro-Trump Candidates Launch Early Senate, Governor Bids, the Journal looked at early moves in key states including Ohio, Virginia and Arkansas, ahead of the 2022 midterms.

But on the opinion page, under the headline Trump’s Non-Vindication, the Journal’s editors added the paper’s voice to warnings from senior Republicans that Trump’s hold on the rank-and-file may not translate to another successful White House run – even though Democrats in Congress could not bar him from future office.

“For four years,” the editorial board claimed, “Mr Trump’s conduct stayed largely within constitutional bounds – no matter his rhetorical excesses and Democratic efforts to drive him from office by violating norms and flogging conspiracy theories.

“But Mr Trump’s dishonest challenge to the 2020 election, even after multiple defeats in court, clearly broke those bounds and culminated in the 6 January riot.

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“Mr Trump may run again, but he won’t win another national election. He lost re-election before the events of 6 January, and as president his job approval never rose above 50%.

“He may go on a revenge campaign tour, or run as a third-party candidate, but all he will accomplish is to divide the centre-right and elect Democrats. The GOP’s defeats in the two 5 January Georgia Senate races proved that.

“The country is moving past the Trump Presidency, and the GOP will remain in the wilderness until it does too.”





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