Nostalgia and resentment could be enough to catapult Trump back into the presidency.
Losers don’t usually get a second chance in modern U.S. presidential politics. Back in the days of nominating conventions and party bosses, an Adlai Stevenson or a Thomas Dewey could gain two consecutive nominations. Richard Nixon actually won the presidency in 1968 after losing in 1960. But since the coming of primary contests, it’s win—or retire. Even Al Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000, was debarred in 2004.
Donald Trump, who upended so many previous presidential precedents, now seems likely to upend one more. Trump has to be considered the massive front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination. He’s already running hard, and he’s already dominating the field. Fox News’s intense promotion of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as an alternative to Trump is not working out any better in 2024 than its similar effort on behalf of then–New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2016. Trump dominates in the polls. He has the lead in fundraising. Down-ballot races turn on loyalty to Trump. Potential rivals vow they will not run for president if Trump does.