The GOP’s Bubble of Trump Denial

Top Republicans keep saying that there is no way that former president Donald Trump can win the 2024 GOP nomination. But polls say otherwise.

The GOP is in denial on whether the former president could be on the ticket again, for a third time. It is reminiscent of 2016. Trump’s rivals and critics underestimated him in 2016, often treating him as a sideshow rather than a front-runner. 

They risk repeating that same mistake.

Those who are officially running for the GOP nomination or who are considering running are spending their time focused on tearing down who they see to be their greatest foe, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

This is despite Trump being the actual frontrunner. 

At the beginning of the year, the conventional wisdom was that Trump was a spent force and that his support would dissipate over time.

The attacks against him directly have dropped. 

Many leading Republicans continue to dismiss Trump’s chances in 2024, pointing to the Jan. 6 insurrection he inspired as well as polling that has indicated many Republicans want new leadership. 

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, declared last week that Trump’s “not going to be the nominee, that’s just not going to happen.”

But days later a poll by Emerson found that Trump is leading DeSantis by 41 points in New Hampshire. 

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan said this week: “I don’t think Trump is going to get the nomination. The ace in the hole reason is that he’s unelectable. Even most of MAGA knows this.”

Trump is gaining ground in recent polls. 

Last month’s Emerson poll found Trump winning 72 percent support among Republicans with a high school degree or less education.

The former U.S. president has been playing up his ties to his base of disillusioned Americans, experts say. 

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