The Corner

Elections

The Georgia Senate Races Will Help Shape Future Perceptions of Trump

President Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally at Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon, Ga., October 16, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Axios reports that President Trump may formally announce his intention to run for another term in 2024, maybe even before he leaves office.

We have no idea what the world will look like in 2024. In October 2019, no one knew that the world would be changed by a massive global pandemic in 2020.

We don’t know if Joe Biden will be running for another term in 2024, or whether he will have passed the torch to Kamala Harris. We don’t know whether we will be at war or at peace. We don’t know what the state of the economy will be. We don’t know which party will control the House or Senate. We don’t know who will be on the Supreme Court. We don’t know what the national mood will be as the 2024 presidential race begins or ends.

While we don’t like to think about this much, we don’t know if any of our key political figures — or ourselves — will be alive.

Even Republicans who oppose Trump should recognize that, as of this moment, he would make a formidable candidate in the primary and perhaps general election in four years. He presided over three years of economic growth and low unemployment, record stock-market gains, three Supreme Court justices and hundreds of federal judges that conservatives adore, the destruction of ISIS, the First Step Act, Right to Try, 415 miles of new border fencing, the burgeoning relationship between Israel and certain Muslim states, and I’m sure you can think of other accomplishments and developments you appreciate. Even with the pandemic raging, unemployment still higher than before the pandemic began, and his own flaws as a candidate, Trump came within 65,900 votes in three states (Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona) and a congressional district (Nebraska) of reaching 270 electoral votes. This year he won more than 74 million votes, the second-highest vote total in American history.

Unfortunately for the president, the highest vote total in American history is Joe Biden’s, now approaching 81 million votes.

To say that Trump’s 2024 bid depends upon the outcome of the Georgia runoffs would be an overstatement. But if Trump’s increasingly incoherent claims of a vast conspiracy stealing the election — and contentions that Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are either in on it or negligent in their duties — cost the Republicans one or both seats, it will leave a bad taste in a lot of Republicans’ mouths. Preserving Trump’s legislative legacy depends in part upon a GOP-controlled Senate that can oppose efforts to repeal Trump-era changes. A 50–50 Senate would have ties broken by Kamala Harris, and that would give Democrats a bit more leverage to undo the changes Trump made. And more than a few Republicans would see Trump as perpetually self-destructive – so focused on his anger over losing the election and farfetched theories that he really won in a landslide that he couldn’t focus on the Georgia Senate races.

Why would Republicans want to bet it all in 2024 on a guy who keeps finding ways to beat himself?

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