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Donald Trump's Four Biggest Obstacles to Becoming President Again

Newsweek 11/15/2022 Ewan Palmer
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Donald Trump is expected to finally confirm his intention to run for president again while making a "special announcement" at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday night.

In the nearly two years since he left office, Trump has been hinting that he will attempt a third run for the White House while continually pushing the false claim he only lost the 2020 race to Joe Biden because of widespread voter fraud.

During this time, Trump has been considered the overwhelming favorite to not only clinch the GOP nomination in 2024 but go on to win the next election too.

However, Trump's reputation has taken a huge dip after he was widely blamed for the GOP's poor performance in the midterms, which saw the party still not achieve a majority in the House and fail to take control of the Senate from the Democrats.

But it's not just American voters who could hinder Trump's chances of becoming president again, with a number of outside influences also being taken into consideration over the next two years.

Criminal and Civil Investigations

The prospect of Trump facing punishment within the number of inquiries he is the focus of will certainly loom over his presidential campaign.

The former president could still face criminal charges as part of the Department of Justice's criminal investigation into the January 6 attack and attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot, which wrapped up its live presentations in October, is expected to deliver its final report on the insurrection by the end of the year, which may include the recommendation that the DOJ indict Trump.

Trump is also under investigation in Georgia, where a special grand jury in Fulton County is hearing evidence on whether he and his allies committed a crime in their attempts to overturn the 2020 election in a number of states.

Elsewhere, The Trump Organization is currently involved in a criminal tax fraud trial, in which the former president is not accused of any wrongdoing, but which is running alongside a parallel civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James' office into claims Trump and his family business inflated or undervalued the worth of a number of assets to obtain benefits such as better bank loans and reduced tax bills.

There have been suggestions that Trump was keen to launch a new presidential campaign as an attempt to fight off his legal woes, hoping prosecutors would be warier of bringing forward potentially historical criminal charges against a former president who is running again.

"It's really difficult for the federal government to prosecute an announced presidential candidate," Michael Binder, a professor of political science at the University of North Florida, told Newsweek. "There's just not a lot of precedent for it. And I'm not saying it can't or it won't happen. I'm just saying it's difficult to do.

"Typically speaking though, presidential nominees are a little more buttoned up about their criminal past. Everything is new territory with Donald Trump and has been for seven years. So who knows," he said.

Ron DeSantis

Since the midterm results, which saw Trump's endorsed MAGA and election-denying candidates lose their races across the country, a number of conservative figures and media companies are now stating Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is the new figure to lead the party in 2024.

DeSantis, who cruised to reelection in Florida without Trump's endorsement, has been widely considered the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican primary alongside the former president.

To further boost his credentials, DeSantis was 7 points ahead of Trump in a post-midterm YouGov America poll (42 percent to 35 percent), when Republican voters were asked who they wanted to be the GOP candidate in 2024.

President Donald Trump greets Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis during a campaign rally at the Hertz Arena on October 31, 2018 in Estero, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images © Joe Raedle/Getty Images President Donald Trump greets Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis during a campaign rally at the Hertz Arena on October 31, 2018 in Estero, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Voters Put Off by Trump

While not even on the ballot, the 2022 midterms were seen as a major test of the pulling power of Trump ahead of 2024 as hundreds of his endorsed candidates ran for office across the country.

As many of the more extreme Trump candidates heavily lost their elections, speculation as to whether Trump could still convince voters nationwide to vote for him once again in a general election is even more in doubt.

"Trump thrives when he is loved. But the results show that many have abandoned him," Matt Qvortrup, a professor of political science and international relations at Coventry University, told Newsweek. "He is under pressure from rivals within the GOP, and his lack of policies means that he is not likely to appeal to voters beyond the narrow base that previously supported him."

"He has lost the popular vote twice already, he is likely to do so again, especially if the Democrats are able to keep up the momentum on issues like abortion," Qvortrup added.

Discussing whether the midterm results were a true referendum on Trump, Binder used an analogy of how a television sitcom's spin-off is "almost never as good" as the original show.

"There's some magic in there that's really difficult to replicate, so just because the spin-off fails, I don't know that I would throw away the original just yet," Binder said.

GOP Revolt

If Trump wants to cling onto power, he must also fight off a potential revolt from more moderate Republicans who have blamed him personally for the GOP's midterm results.

In the days since November 8, Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan said the party sticking with Trump in 2024 would be the "definition of insanity."

Outgoing Pennsylvania Republican senator Pat Toomey said a "huge factor" in the GOP's poor midterm performance was the "disastrous role" of the former president. Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan also told CNN that the midterm results proved that Trump was now "in the rearview mirror" of the GOP and it's time for the party to move on.

It is not just within his own party that Trump could see a backlash prior to 2024. The numerous investigations into the former president, along with the emergence of DeSantis, could make a number of major Republican donors consider backing Trump too much of a headache.

"By announcing early, Trump is attempting to reestablish his influence and potentially clear the field of competitors," Joshua Scacco, associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida, told Newsweek.

"However, we do not know whether and how a potential announcement could quell Republican elites—including donors and elected officials-from questioning whether a third Trump term is beneficial for the Republican Party," he said.

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