Does Trump Need Donors?

Donald Trump has officially launched his 2024 presidential campaign. He is entitled to take a shot at another term, but his country and his party would be far better served if, for once, he put their interests ahead of his own ego. Given his history, though, we shouldn’t be surprised.

Charles Gasparino’s piece in the New York Post is headlined: “Donors slow as the realization hits that Trump can’t beat feeble Joe Biden.”

[B]ased on my random polling of [Republican donors] in recent weeks, they all have something in common: They don’t want Donald Trump to run for president in 2024. They say this not out of pure disdain. They loved Trump’s policies, the low taxes, fewer regulations and his ­anti-wokeism. They loved Trump’s willingness to fight.

Yet they fear, intensely, that even a feeble leader like Joe Biden, cowed by the left of his party on every policy matter, will win in 2024, and win easily if Trump is the nominee.

I think any plausible Republican other than Trump would beat Biden in 2024, but Trump would almost certainly lose. It is hard to overstate the level of antipathy toward Trump among millions who otherwise are Republican or swing voters.

[Biden’s] approval ratings suck. And yet the Dems kicked some real ass [in 2022], adding to their Senate majority and almost keeping the House. The GOP disaster was then capped off by the circus that surrounded the selection of Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker.

Is this Donald Trump’s fault? The GOP donor class thinks so because while he remains powerful with a lot of GOP voters, he’s a supremely flawed national leader, as every election since he won the presidency in 2016 shows.

That is an important point. With Trump seen as the party’s leader, the GOP did poorly in 2018, 2020 and 2022. I am not sure what more it will take for Trump’s die-hard partisans to realize that it is time for new leadership.

Based on my own conversations with Republican donors, fewer than one in ten want Trump to run again. But that bridge has been crossed. Which raises the question: does Trump need donors? He has plenty of money, although I don’t think he has spent much of it on his own or anyone else’s campaigns. He also will do well with grass roots fundraising. But how badly can he afford to be out-spent by the Democrats if he gets the nomination?

I think money in politics is generally overrated, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Democrats are rolling in it. Republicans are routinely out-spent across the country, in my state by as much as ten to one. I don’t think Trump can beat Biden in any event–he lost in 2020 and has done nothing to improve his standing since then–but if many donors sit on the sidelines, the election could be a catastrophe, for the Republican Party and for America.

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