Another Donald Trump presidential bid is the absolute worst case scenario for Republicans

CNN's Gary Tuchman speaks to supporters of President Trump in Georgia, who have left up their Trump-Pence signs and flags, holding onto hope that Trump can still somehow overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Posted: Dec 2, 2020 12:10 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2020 12:10 PM

President Donald Trump isn't even trying to be coy anymore.

"It's been an amazing four years," he told a group of guests at a White House Christmas party on Tuesday night. "We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I'll see you in four years."

That pretty much says it all -- especially when you consider that there's reporting out there that suggests Trump may well announce his 2024 candidacy on the same day that Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

And that is an absolute disaster for the Republican Party.

To understand why, look at what happened in the 2020 election, which can be roughly summed up this way:

1) Trump lost

2) House and Senate Republicans drastically overperformed expectations

Going into Election Day, conventional wisdom -- as determined by nonpartisan political handicappers -- was that Democrats were not only poised to gain the three seats they needed to retake the Senate majority but were also likely to make double-digit gains in the House.

Instead, Republicans lost only a single Senate seat (with two runoffs in Georgia still pending) and made their own double-digit gains in the House.

While Trump has sought to claim credit for those gains -- "A lot of Senators and House Members are very happy that I came along," he tweeted on Monday, "Think I'll stick around for awhile!" -- the opposite is actually true, according to some other smart Republican observers.

They argue that what the 2020 election revealed was this: America is still a center-right country. Voters couldn't stomach Trump but they liked the idea of divided government with Republicans having control of some of the levers of government.

Read this way -- and I think it is the right way to read it -- the 2020 election was a rejection of Trump but not of Republicans more broadly. If anything, voters in downballot races embraced Republican candidates even while breaking from Trump. (Republicans' strength in state legislative races affirm this general trend.)

In theory then, if Trump stepped off the stage, Republicans would be in pretty good shape. Sure, they'd have a contested and contentious fight to see who the right person is to represent the party in 2024 but it would, generally speaking, be a fight between politicians who can be fit somewhere into the traditional spectrum.

From Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton on the far right to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in the center-ish, the party would spend the next few years choosing which brand of Republicanism or conservatism they preferred. But the debate would, largely, be about policy -- immigration, health care etc. -- and tone. It would not be first and foremost about personality.

To be clear: There's no question that for some swing voters, the residual cloud left by Trump to hang over the party would be a problem. The capitulation of the GOP (and its principles) at the altar of Trump's cult of personality over the past four years would still have consequences for plenty of people.

But with Trump not in contention in 2024, the ambitious 2024 candidates could make the "let's leave the past in the past" argument -- focusing instead on traditional GOP messages like small government, lower taxes and national security while casting Democrats as beholden to their liberal extremes.

Which, again, if 2020 is any indication, can and does work!

All of that goes out the window if Trump is in the 2024 race. Trump would be, without question, the clear favorite for the presidential nomination and, as such, would suck up virtually all of the oxygen within the party. Even if somehow he lost, the race would revolve around him. The working dynamic of the contest -- assuming any serious Republicans attempted to challenge him -- would be Trump vs anti-Trump. Any discussion of policy or the future of the Republican Party would be subsumed by what we have had the last four years: One long conversation that can be summed up by "Did you see what he just tweeted?!?!?"

Unfortunately for Republicans, we know where that ends. In a loss at the presidential level. Because while voters seem perfectly comfortable sending Republicans to Congress and their state legislatures, not enough of them feel that same way about Trump.

Which means that if Trump runs in 2024, the Republican Party will be frozen in a sort of stasis -- unable to get beyond a person who they know is not only very unlikely to command a majority of the country's votes in the next presidential election but also who will continue to do damage to the party brand along the way.

What if Trump somehow changes his approach, chastened by his 2020 loss? That will never happen. Not just because Trump has proven time and time again over the last five years that he only has one political gear but also because he will never actually concede he lost this election -- meaning that, in his mind, no adjustments need to be made.

Insanity is, by one definition, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Which, well, is what Republicans will be forced to do if Trump, as he seems set to do, announces another run for president.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 698692

Reported Deaths: 13148
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion953091706
Lake50868931
Allen38607670
Hamilton34028404
St. Joseph33404537
Elkhart26868431
Vanderburgh21948393
Tippecanoe21483212
Johnson17346371
Porter17059297
Hendricks16638309
Clark12600190
Madison12239335
Vigo12109243
Monroe11253166
LaPorte10639204
Delaware10251183
Howard9572211
Kosciusko9009112
Hancock7866139
Bartholomew7807153
Warrick7660155
Floyd7509175
Wayne6849196
Grant6732167
Boone648199
Morgan6341137
Dubois6054117
Marshall5720108
Cass5658102
Dearborn565275
Henry5545100
Noble534983
Jackson489869
Shelby474495
Lawrence4304118
Gibson425788
Harrison425370
Montgomery414686
Clinton413953
DeKalb404183
Huntington373180
Whitley372639
Miami369965
Knox363889
Steuben359657
Putnam350760
Wabash344977
Jasper342246
Adams336852
Ripley332668
Jefferson306779
White306054
Daviess288199
Wells283680
Decatur278092
Fayette276762
Greene268785
Posey267533
Scott258753
Clay250944
LaGrange249670
Randolph233679
Washington228929
Spencer227231
Jennings224347
Fountain207245
Sullivan207241
Starke199452
Owen191056
Fulton189139
Jay184829
Carroll184520
Perry178536
Orange175852
Rush169424
Vermillion165543
Franklin164835
Tipton160743
Parke143516
Blackford132130
Pike129634
Pulaski112445
Newton102434
Brown98940
Crawford96814
Benton94913
Martin82115
Warren78715
Switzerland7688
Union69510
Ohio55411
Unassigned0405

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1039455

Reported Deaths: 18827
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1205361345
Cuyahoga1051802040
Hamilton774991164
Montgomery49566984
Summit44613904
Lucas39235757
Butler37466566
Stark31150890
Lorain23831467
Warren23725291
Mahoning20653581
Lake19760360
Clermont19325226
Delaware17811130
Licking15996205
Fairfield15520195
Trumbull15412458
Medina14693255
Greene14510233
Clark13455287
Wood12575182
Portage12183193
Allen11225229
Richland10924197
Miami10470211
Muskingum8653127
Columbiana8482225
Wayne8463209
Pickaway8394120
Tuscarawas8317239
Marion8302135
Erie7434153
Ross6650145
Hancock6608123
Geauga6462146
Ashtabula6374163
Scioto625699
Belmont5523158
Union551747
Lawrence5439102
Huron5237112
Darke5229121
Jefferson5223147
Sandusky5096118
Seneca5050118
Washington5031107
Athens494854
Auglaize470684
Mercer467984
Shelby453489
Knox4339108
Madison417957
Putnam417698
Ashland409186
Fulton402565
Defiance396396
Brown383955
Crawford3827100
Logan370076
Preble368295
Clinton357459
Ottawa352278
Highland345058
Williams318274
Champaign317355
Jackson305051
Guernsey303448
Perry286949
Fayette276348
Morrow272639
Henry261866
Hardin261163
Coshocton256057
Holmes251799
Van Wert237562
Gallia232146
Pike231031
Adams226251
Wyandot224553
Hocking207057
Carroll187846
Paulding167638
Meigs140938
Noble131837
Monroe128541
Morgan105822
Harrison104836
Vinton81013
Unassigned01
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Rain showers taper off throughout Sunday evening. Temperatures overnight will drop into the mid to low 40s. Monday, expect more clouds in the morning, with a littler clearer sky in the afternoon. Isolated rain showers possible on Monday. Highs around 60 on Monday.
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