First things first. National Review Editor Rich Lowry is not a “die-hard” Trump fan. We’ll offer several examples later in the article — but let’s first get to the business at hand. As Lowry sees it, it’s a fool’s game to overestimate Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party this far in advance of the 2024 election.
Lowry writes, in an op-ed posted by The New York Post on Friday, that Republican politicians who think the Republican Party belongs to Trump can be forgiven, given that he not only survived two impeachments and the January 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol; he has since continued to thrive.
Trump’s rallies are still remarkably well-attended, he is making progress in his project of killing the careers of Republicans who supported his impeachment and big majorities of Republicans tell pollsters they want Trump to run for president again.
One thing is certain: The Trumpaloozas are as strong as they ever were.
— Dr. Angel of ❤️🗣 (@AngelDiana1980) October 21, 2021
“And yet,” writes Lowry, “there are reasons to believe Trump’s dominance is exaggerated and that it is slowly degrading, such that by the time the 2024 Republican primaries roll around, he’ll be challengeable and beatable if he runs.” (At this point, Trump not running in 2024 would make news.)
It’s not unusual for a former president to own his party until someone comes and takes it from him — Bill Clinton prior to Barack Obama, for example.
What’s different is that parties typically aren’t kind to one-term presidents who lost their re-election bids, and generally former presidents aren’t so bent on exercising control over their parties once they vacate the White House.
Part of the reason Trump has clung to his fanciful stolen-election narrative is to avoid the stench of defeat of a Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.
On top of this, Trump has an intact political operation that is paying a lot of attention to his potential endorsements and how they will or won’t enhance his own power.
Have you grabbed the popcorn, yet? Let’s continue.
All of the above makes Trump an important player, says Lowry, and maybe more: “But there are indications of an undertow and factors that might increase it in the years ahead.”
Trump’s media footprint is much reduced. Data from SocialFlow shows engagement with Trump stories plummeting in March of this year and it took another jag down in August and September.
As for Trump’s polling numbers, Republicans might tell pollsters they want him to run again as a way to stick a finger in the eye of the media or as a general statement of warm feelings toward him.
Even if these findings are based on entirely forthcoming and sincere sentiments, wanting Trump to run is a threshold question that falls short of a commitment to vote for him 2½ years from now.
Just me, or is Lowry’s last line a stretch?
‘Trump Has Vulnerability Problems’
The wild card for Republican voters, and Trump if he does run in 2024 will be the 800-pound elephant in the room — January 6. Speaking of which, new video shows officers waving people into the Capitol.
New video from Jan. 6 shows officers allowing people to enter Capitol | Just The News https://t.co/WwsyIKFN8f
— John Solomon (@jsolomonReports) October 19, 2021
I can see it breaking both ways — and it most likely will. There will be previous Trump voters who will not vote Trump in 2024 because of 2024 — and there will be Republicans — and others — who will support Trump because of the “stolen” 2020 election.
“At the end of the day,” argues Lowry, “what primary voters in both parties most want is to win. And this is Trump’s true Achilles’ heel.” (It’s also Trump’s greatest strength among his fervent supporters.)
The fact is that he lost [or the election was “stolen”] to Joe Biden, and, despite last-minute changes in election procedures and the media and social media landscape being stacked against him, it was fundamentally his doing.
Ohh, fighting words, there, Rich.
OK, the messenger now steps off the stage; the floor is yours.
Is Rich Lowry full of crap? Or does he make his case?
As I promised at the top, here are a few of Lowry’s notable Trump takes: