Despite the rulings against him, the former president will be the Republican candidate in all states in 2024. The day of his nomination has already been written.
In spite of the efforts by multiple states to ban Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot, Trump's four ongoing felony cases, and the entire primary season still ahead of us, there is little doubt that, barring a health crisis, Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee and that he will appear on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2024.
To date, the Supreme Court of the state of Colorado and the Secretary of State of the state of Maine have barred Trump from being on the ballot in their state in 2024. The justification for this decision is based on their reading of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Ratified in 1868 in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, and targeted at members of the rebel Confederate States of America, this section bars anyone who held public office and swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and subsequently engaged in insurrection from seeking election to public office.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the merits of the Colorado case relatively soon, with Trump advocates and opponents alike requesting the Court definitively resolve this issue one way or another. The logic is that if the Supreme Court does not act decisively, it is likely that similar efforts to proscribe Trump will be undertaken other states, especially those where the Democratic Party controls all of the levers of political power, sowing confusion among voters and creating additional headaches for election administrators and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court itself.
At the end of the day, while there are doubts about the specific mechanisms the U.S. Supreme Court will use to support its decision, there are few doubts that the effect of its decision on the Colorado, Maine and future cases will be to allow Trump to appear on the ballot in all 50 states along with the District of Columbia. To do otherwise would effectively disenfranchise millions of American voters who want to vote for Trump in 2024.
The four felony cases against Trump (91 felony indictments in all) are all proceeding, some faster than others, but not one has gone to trial and none are expected to be definitely resolved (e.g., with all appeals exhausted) prior to January of 2025 when Trump would assume office if he wins the presidential election. And, once in office, the two cases which are in federal court are unlikely to proceed as one would expect a Trump-appointed Attorney General would not deem them to be a priority, while the two state cases (in New York and Georgia) are unlikely to be successful in obtaining a definitive conviction against a sitting president.
Finally, while technically the Republican nomination process does not officially begin until the Iowa Caucus on January 15, Trump has for all intents and purposes already wrapped up the Republican nomination.
In national polls, Trump's vote intention in the Republican Primary in the Real Clear Politics poll aggregator is 63%, with his closest rivals, former South Carolina governor and former Trump United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tied at 11% each, that is 52 percentage points behind Trump, with the remaining candidates mired in the low single digits (businessman Vivek Ramaswamy at 4%, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie at 3%, and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson at 1%).
And, things are not much brighter for Trump's opponents in the early primary and caucus states, with Trump enjoying an overwhelming lead in the January 15 Iowa Caucus (Trump 51%, DeSantis 19%, Haley 16%, Ramaswamy 6%, Christie 4%, Hutchinson 1%), the January 23 New Hampshire Primary (Trump 46%, Haley 25%, Christie 11%, DeSantis 10%, Ramaswamy 6%, Hutchinson 1%), the February 8 Nevada Caucus (Trump 72%, DeSantis 15%, Christie 5%, Ramaswamy 2%; Haley is not on the Nevada Caucus ballot) and the February 24 South Carolina Primary (Trump 49%, Haley 23%, DeSantis 14%, Ramaswamy 6%, Christie 6%, Hutchinson 0%) in Haley's home state.
The Republican presidential nomination process will in fact for all intents and purposes formally end in the middle of March, by which time Trump will have won more than the 1,215 delegates (2,429 total) needed to nominate the Republican Party's 2024 presidential candidate. The largest share of delegates will be allocated on March 5 ("Super Tuesday), with the two states with the two most delegates (California, 169; Texas, 161) along with 14 other states and territories holding their primary election or caucus on that date.
Trump is most likely to officially cross the 50% threshold of 1,215 on March 19, when 350 delegates are up for grabs, including 125 (the third most after California and Texas) in Florida, where whoever wins the most votes will receive all 125 delegates. In fact, if DeSantis is still in the race on March 19, he likely will drop out that evening or the next day if as expected he loses to Trump in his home state of Florida. At present, the most recent polls suggest a landslide Trump victory in the Sunshine State, with Trump projected to win 60% of the vote to 19% for DeSantis, with all of the other candidates in the single digits.
In November of 2024, American voters will be presented with the same two major party options as in 2020, Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump, with the main difference being Biden, rather than Trump, is the incumbent, and each candidate is four years older (Biden 81 and Trump 78). With almost 11 months until election day, it is still early to make predictions, but all signs today point to a very competitive presidential race that will end up being decided by the outcomes in a half dozen battleground states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin), with Latino voters expected to play a pivotal role in determining the winner in Arizona and in Nevada where one in five voters is Latino.
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