It’s always tough to tell if Donald Trump, on his increasingly rare lucid days, truly understands that he’s currently on track to get blown out in 2020 and then sent to prison. If he fully grasped this, you’d think he’d be trying to do something to turn things around, instead of screwing around with a Sharpie.
But whether Donald Trump understands how deep of a hole he’s in or not, his remaining allies appear to very much understand what a vulnerable position he’s in. To that end, they’re now trying to rig the 2020 Republican primary race in Trump’s favor – a sign of just how ugly they expect things to get for Trump if he goes through with seeking reelection.
There are now three fairly well-known Republicans either challenging, or talking about challenging, Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary race: Joe Walsh, Bill Weld, and Mark Sanford. Whatever you think of any of them, the mere fact that you’ve heard of them is a problem for Trump. In modern presidential elections, whenever an incumbent president has faced a primary challenge that got any amount media coverage, that president won the primary race but then went on to lose the general election. A vigorous primary challenge can rough up a weak incumbent to the point that the incumbent ends up limping into the general election, too busy licking his wounds to be able to deal effectively with the opponent from the other party.
To that end, Republican officials in a few states have decided to simply cancel their states’ Republican primaries and caucuses in 2020, according to CNN and other news outlets. We’ll see how the inevitable legal challenges shake out on this front. What stands out is that Donald Trump’s allies are trying to prevent a primary contest from even happening, for fear that even if Trump wins the nomination, the process will finish off what’s left of his viability.
To be clear, this move won’t help Donald Trump much. The 2020 Republican primary race will still play out in most states. And again, it’s not so much about who’s going to win, but how much damage the likes of Weld and Walsh can do to Trump in the process. Oh and by the way, if Trump isn’t on the 2020 Republican primary ballot in California because he hasn’t released his tax returns, that’ll hand a sizable early victory to whichever GOP challenger wins the state in his absence.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report