If Donald Trump would have won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, as he did in 2016, he would be sitting in the White House today. He lost the white working classes, aka Reagan Democrats (RDs), in those states and he lost the game. Can he, or another Republican, get them back for 2024?
And please, don’t give me any crybaby nutjob state audit conspiracy theories about how Trump did actually win. Is he sitting in the Oval Office now? No? Then he lost. Oh, he only lost because the Democrats rigged it? Fine. The Republicans should have rigged it better. Okay, without COVID-19 he would have won by a lot.
And why not? It was a fabulously successful administration. Almost everything it touched in economics, jobs, the border, defense, and diplomacy turned to gold. However, COVID-19 overshadowed all that and Trump refused to change his message discipline to deal with the changed political environment.
Also, he trusted establishment doctors on COVID-19 instead of his own economists. Thus he destroyed his excellent economic record. It killed him with RDs. Will the Republicans be given a second chance to redeem that blunder?
The midterms next year will not be a good gage of that. Biden and the Democrats will take a hammering and the Republicans should gain back both houses of Congress. Can they ride the momentum back into the White House? Recent history says no.
In 1994 the Republicans had a massive Clinton first midterm landslide and won both chambers of Congress for the first time in decades. Instead of nominating a dynamic presidential candidate in the 1994 mold in 1996, they nominated Bob Dole. Dole was and is a good man, a war hero, and a solid mainstreet Republican. He was absolutely not the candidate who could have run with the 1994 football. That would have been Newt Gingrich or Jack Kemp. Kemp was Dole’s veep choice and Bill Clinton beat both of them, as Republicans grabbed defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Another GOP success in 2010, this time against Barack Obama, and the Republicans won back the House as they gained a whopping 63 seats. Who do they nominate in 2012? Mitt Romney, and he loses. Get it now? So a great 2022 does not guarantee a great 2024. It may also not portend a return of the white proles into Republican ranks. What could? The right candidate.
Trump has some of their allegiance still. But he is damaged goods from Covid, the insane hatred of him of the press, and January 6th. Does he bear complete responsibility for those problems? No. Would all of it make him radioactive to RDs? No. However, there may be enough residual radiation to cost him the margins of victory with them. So, he is a crapshoot as a candidate.
Ted Cruz is too smart to be attractive to these voters, Haley too squishy, and Cotton and Scott too young for them. Certain working class types may also have an issue with Scott’s color. Some of the Trump fanatics in those ranks, enough to count, think Pence is a traitor to the cause for doing his constitutional duty. That leaves one popular conservative candidate who could close the deal with the RDs and return the White House to the GOP: Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. It may not be what a current majority of Republican hearts yearn for, but their heads should tell them it’s the right move to make.