Field Size Really Matters

OK, first off, I spared you another review of last night’s State of the Union speech article. (For today anyway.) This article was written several hours before the speech and in all honesty, I didn’t feel like staying up late to get something posted prior to 1am EST.

Today I want to spend a bit of time handicapping the 2024 GOP presidential contest. I, and I’m far from alone, feel that the size of the field will determine the fate of Donald Trump. At this writing he is the only announced candidate. Obviously if that situation remains unchanged, he will win. Even Paul Ryan could handle that arithmetic.

If the rumors are correct Trump will have at least one challenger before the next fortnight has passed. I think she will not be alone. I’m guessing that several wannabes will make their final decision in mid to late March. The driver of the calendar is money. In order to be considered a serious contender you have to show that you have money behind your candidacy and/or can raise a lot of it. By declaring late in the quarter, you can defend your early cash position regardless of what it is. If you raise a lot of money, you can say look at all I raised in a short period of time. If, on the other hand, your numbers are low you can say I only had a few days. What did you expect?

Last week Charles Koch backed, Americans for Prosperity, announced that they would get involved in the 2024 GOP primary against Donald Trump. That is significant; just how significant remains to be seen. I’ll circle back to that in a bit.

History is a great teacher. Combine that with the fact that Trump controls somewhere around 30% of the Republican primary electorate and that GOP primaries are winner take all affairs. In other words, in a large field, you can easily win – and take all delegates in the process – with 30% of the votes. The majority of Republican voters didn’t want you, but you won anyway. That is exactly what Trump did in 2016.

Now back to money. Americans for Prosperity and Charles Koch (separating the two from a financial standpoint is not reflective of reality) is a huge player but not the only one on the GOP side. Regardless of the smokescreens what Koch really cares about is low taxes on the very wealthy and no regulations (or at least none enforced) on their businesses. In reality almost any Republican candidate will fill that bill.

Other big money GOP donors have almost an identical agenda. These people, and their (often dark money) groups are simply fronts for their interests. These are no longer donations, they are investments. These people are not donors, they are financiers. To date none have declared when or for who they will get involved.
If they distribute their support over a field of candidates Trump wins. If, however, they quickly consolidate behind a single candidate, regardless of who that candidate is, Trump loses.

Assuming a free and fair election in 2024, Trump will not win in the general. I know I was among the many who never thought he could win in 2016, but Trump will be a much more known commodity to the 2024 voters than he was to the 2016 voters plus he has added to his baggage in the intervening time period. He will get tens of millions votes but not enough to win against any candidate the Democrats field even if million of voters “hold their noses” as they cast their ballots.

I’m not in the habit of giving political advice to the Republicans but today I will. Get your big money people all on the same page and backing the same candidate not named Donald Trump. If you do you have a very good shot in the 2024 general election. The size of the field not only matters, it will be determinative.

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