Sunday, July 31, 2022


I saw this tweet yesterday:

This won't happen.

I'm not questioning Biden 52% -- I worry that the president won't make a comeback, but it's conceivable. What won't happen is a scenario Berlatsky and other observers think is quite possible: that Donald Trump will lose the Republican primaries and then become a spoiler as a third-party candidate.

I agree that, under those circumstances, Trump would want to get revenge on everyone he thought had cost him the nomination. But Trump hates losing more than he loves revenge. Let me be more precise -- Trump hates looking like a loser more than he loves revenge. So he won't do it.

There are other ways he could try to hurt or intimidate the people he'd blame for his primary losses. He'd announce plans to sue the national GOP, state Republican parties, and probably Fox News, which he'd blame for his losses (probably with good reason). I bet he wouldn't have the guts to actually sue Fox or the national party, but a few suits in the states might happen, even though the courts would reject them.

His fans might try to start a few mini-January 6 riots in the states, or at the party convention. I think it's likely by then that this will just be considered a normal part of American politics: weapon-bearing bearded men in Carhartt attempting to use force to overturn an election result they don't like. In most locales, there'll be plans in place to limit the damage, and the uprisings will be as unsuccessful as the recent U.S. trucker protests. But they'll be a huge nuisance.

Trump won't run because running third party requires organization, something Trump and his circle have never been very good at. You have to understand the ballot access laws in all fifty states. In some cases, you have to start the process of gathering signatures while the party primaries are still taking place. Trump would have to effectively admit that he might be a loser in the primaries in order to do that. Alternately, he'd have to bypass the GOP at the outset, which would also be an admission of defeat, no matter how much he tried to sell it as an act of war.

Trump is stupid, but he's not completely stupid about ratings and popularity. You could explain to him that he'd split the GOP vote if he ran against DeSantis, and he'd get that. Sure, he'd hurt the Republican Party, but he'd be a loser. He won't risk that, even for vengeance.

If he thinks he can't win the primaries, he won't run at all. If he thinks he can win and then loses, he'll say that the GOP and Fox are part of the Deep State, which kept him off the ballot through fraud. Fans will demand audits in states he lost, and some of those audits might actually take place. (They'll show that he lost legitimately.) But he'll retire from electoral politics. He won't risk a humiliating loss in November.

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