- Wednesday, December 14, 2022

With more than 700 days to go until Election Day 2024, former President Donald Trump made a grand show of entering the race.

Just a few weeks later, his prospects look grim.

We’ll say right at the outset that his fate looked similarly dark in 2015 when Mr. Trump descended on an escalator in Trump Tower to jump into that race. So, he is The Don, he could win, and the election is eons away.

But a new poll out on Tuesday from USA Today shows that 61% of Republicans want someone other than Mr. Trump next time around. Here’s the weird thing: They want someone like him, just not him.

The pollsters asked self-identified Republicans if they wanted Mr. Trump to run to continue the policies he pursued in his first term. Thirty-one percent said yes. But more than 6 in 10 said they’ll take the policies, not the man.

Coincidentally, there happens to be a Republican out there to fit the bill. Two-thirds of Republicans and those leaning toward voting for the GOP candidate want Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run. And they prefer Mr. DeSantis over Mr. Trump 56% to 43%.

Since he entered the race, Mr. Trump has acted like a candidate who really does not want the job (think former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani). Mr. Trump dined with the rapper Ye, formerly Kanye West — who later went on a lengthy antisemitic rant — and White supremacist Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago. He called for the suspension of the Constitution. And he lost several legal maneuvers over his possession of allegedly classified documents.

Mr. Trump’s star has been falling ever since his hand-picked candidates in swing states lost in the midterms — just two of his 14 candidates won. And now his major donors in 2016 are running away — that’s a huge problem for a self-declared billionaire who doesn’t like to spend his own money.

“Hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, the second-most prolific GOP donor of the midterms, said Tuesday that he would support Mr. DeSantis over Mr. Trump, pointing to the Florida governor’s dominant reelection victory in a state that was considered competitive until recently,” The Hill reported last week.

“I’d like to think that the Republican Party is ready to move on from somebody who has been for this party a three-time loser,” said Mr. Griffin, who funded a pro-Trump super political action committee in previous cycles but has already given $5 million to a PAC aligned with Mr. DeSantis.

Another poll, this one from CNBC, came up with the exact same number: 61% don’t think Mr. Trump should run again (even though he has already announced his bid). And even more (70%) said President Biden shouldn’t run for a second term — just 19% want him to go again.

For Mr. Trump, 37% of Republicans don’t want him to run again; 61% of independents and 88% of Democrats agree.

Don’t trust the pollsters? Smart! But what about the bookies, the guys who put their money where their mouths are?

Mr. DeSantis is the solid front-runner to win the 2024 presidential election, according to one betting site that’s keeping running odds on the race. The governor, who has not announced whether he’ll seek the White House, has nearly a one in three chance, standing at 30.8%, according to the projections.

Mr. Trump, who once held the No. 2 position, has dropped to third, behind Mr. Biden. “As of today, Trump’s odds have decreased to 20%,” the betting site Empire Stakes reports.

Again, it’s early — way early. But when 61% of your own party doesn’t want you to run, well, you don’t run. Mr. Trump’s ego is way too big to bow out gracefully, so look for him to bow out disgracefully (does he know any other way?).

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl .

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