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As Donald Trump announced Tuesday night that he is running for president for a third time, one unlikely group was cheering him on: Democrats.
“As an American, the idea of another Trump campaign and all of his lies and divisiveness and his efforts to undermine American democracy is an absolute horror show,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, told The New York Times ahead of Trump’s announcement. “On the other hand, I got to say that as a politician who wants to see that no Republican is elected to the White House in 2024, from that perspective, his candidacy is probably a good thing.”
“I think we would all like Donald Trump to run again,” Terry McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, said in a recent interview.
And there’s political logic here. The simple fact is that Trump has never won a majority of the national vote. He was president when Republicans lost the House in 2018. He lost the White House in 2020. His false stolen election claims were blamed for Republican losses in the January 2021 Georgia Senate runoffs, which allowed Democrats to take control of the chamber. And this election cycle, Trump-backed Republicans – many of whom were election deniers – lost in critical Senate and governors’ races.
National exit polling from the midterms also bears out the fact that Trump may well be past his sell-by date. Just 39% of voters said they viewed Trump favorably, while 58% said they viewed him unfavorably. And 28% of voters said their House vote was cast to oppose Trump, compared to 16% who said their vote was a sign of support for the former president.
Now, of course, if you asked any Democrat (including Hillary Clinton!) which Republican they wanted to run against in 2016, they all would have answered “Donald Trump.” And we know how that one turned out.
It’s worth remembering, then, that just because Democrats are cheering on another Trump bid, it doesn’t mean that he would be easy to defeat (if he winds up as the Republican presidential nominee.)
But there’s also little question that the Trump of today is significantly less appealing than the version of the Trump who ran for president in 2016.
Back then, he portrayed himself as the ultimate outsider, someone who could bring his street smarts and business savvy to running the country. People wanted something different, and Trump definitely fit the bill.
But the picture looks very different now. Many more Republican elected officials have been willing to publicly say the party needs to move on after a disappointing midterm election. There has even been some coalescing around Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a credible alternative to Trump.
None of the above will affect Trump’s decision-making or the kind of campaign he runs, of course. Trump lives in a fantasy world of his own creation – in which he is the hero staving off the forces of evil to save America. Or something.
The Point: It is notable that Democrats are publicly rooting for another Trump bid. And it’s something that should give smart Republicans pause.