Apologies to all the haters and losers out there — you know who you are — but it has become abundantly clear that there will not be a competitive GOP primary challenge to President Trump in 2020.
Sorry, Bulwark Bros, the dream is dead.
First, let me state the obvious: President Trump is in an incredible position for a first-term president seeking re-election. The economy is roaring. Wages are up across the board. Unemployment is down to just 4 percent. Fourth-quarter GDP grew year-over-year at 3.1 percent. The “new normal” of economic malaise we were told to shut up and accept during the Obama years has been replaced by historic levels of growth and prosperity.
Trump has also accomplished a great deal for conservatives. He successfully nominated two constitutionalist judges to the Supreme Court and more than 80 outstanding federal judges to the appellate courts and district courts. He has slashed onerous government regulations at a historic rate, fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp.” And his administration has achieved a number of important pro-life and religious liberty goals.
Given all of this, it should come as no surprise that President Trump is doing well with his base. Polls show nearly 90 percent of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing as president. And while much has been said about Trump’s “unpopularity” with the electorate at large, his average approval rating (per RealClearPolitics) remains higher today (41.6 percent) than it was on the day he defeated Hillary Clinton (37.5 percent). He’s also more popular at this point in his presidency than Ronald Reagan was, according to an approval rating tracker at FiveThirtyEight.
“But there’s a real demand for a primary!” say the self-appointed conservers of conservatism who sent pro-abortion activists to CPAC to mock conservative leaders and conservative ideas.
But is there really?
Let’s assume for a moment that Republican voters are open to a specific primary challenger. Didn’t we do this already in 2016? Don’t forget that Jeb Bush was the presumptive GOP nominee and raised $100 million out of the gate — only to finish no higher than fourth in any of the GOP primary contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina before sheepishly dropping out.
Trump was at his weakest during that primary, and yet his victory was never really in doubt among those still tethered to reality. Now he’s supposed to be worried about John Kasich (who he already defeated soundly in 2016) and some guy off the street named Bill Weld?
Trump built an incredible coalition of GOP voters in 2016. He won over pro-lifers, immigration hawks, and tea-partiers, all while expanding the traditional GOP coalition to include workers, families, and economic populists. As president, he’s delivered to each of these groups. He’s arguably the most pro-life president ever. He’s building the wall — with or without the approval of Congress. His policies have driven up wages and provided people more economic freedom. Where is the appetite for a primary?
And what would an anti-Trump GOP coalition even look like? One can’t effectively run to his right, nor can one run as a “populist.” So that leaves establishment flunkies advocating for Democratic cultural policies such as open-borders immigration and late-term abortion, while touting a tone-deaf economic message centered on opposition to tariffs and — what exactly? Concern over the nationalization of 5G?
Good luck with that.
The reality is that a John Kasich-type candidate would struggle to get 20 percent of the primary vote, if that — a big reason why someone like Kasich has yet to jump in. Sure, D.C. establishment folks will continue to hopelessly entertain their fantasy of an heir to Mitt Romney swooping in to “rescue” the GOP from itself. But come 2020, Donald Trump will once again be the Republican on top of the ballot, and the same elites who were confounded in 2016 will again be left scratching their heads wondering where they went wrong.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.