| The Rose Report |

Is Trump Unstoppable?

What scenarios are looming that could deny Trump’s quest? How likely are they to play out?

Photo: AP Images

The guesswork is about to end, and the delegate count is ready to begin. Republicans will gather Monday night at the Iowa caucuses to choose 40 delegates to the party’s national convention in Milwaukee, in July. A week later, New Hampshire will hold the nation’s first primary to select 22 delegates. Donald Trump maintains a commanding lead in the polls, but the first 62 delegates to be chosen amount to a mere 5% of the estimated 1,235 delegates needed to secure the nomination. What scenarios are looming that could deny Trump’s quest? How likely are they to play out?

An Opponent Knocks Him Off

Republicans who hoped that an alternative to Trump would emerge during 2023 have been sorely disappointed. Ron DeSantis positioned himself as Trump “without the baggage,” but the Florida governor burdened himself with bungling campaign managers, uninspiring public appearances, and an inability to leverage negative press to rally supporters, as Trump does with skill. While Iowa caucuses are known for producing upsets, the Des Moines Register, which is also a reputable pollster, reported that no candidate has ever blown a double-digit lead, which would render Trump’s 50% lead insurmountable.

However, Nikki Haley’s trajectory is rising in New Hampshire. Two polls — St. Anselm and CBS — have Haley within 15% of Trump. The New Hampshire–based American Research Group (ARG) now shows Haley trailing Trump by just four points, but their numbers are suspect. The renowned FiveThirtyEight political blog gives ARG a mediocre C-plus rating for calling the winner correctly in only 75% of their surveys, and even when they’re right, they often miss by more than a standard margin of error.

Bottom line Iowa looks like an easy win for Trump; New Hampshire might be competitive for Haley. If she finishes a close second, DeSantis, Christie, and Ramaswamy could drop out, setting up a two-way race between Trump and Haley for South Carolina’s February 24 primary, keeping the race interesting for at least another month.

The Supreme Court Knocks Him Out

February 8 may overtake January 6 as the most controversial date in recent American history. That’s when the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether the Colorado Supreme Court had the authority to strike Donald Trump’s name from that state’s primary ballot because of his alleged role in the Capitol Hill riots of January 6, 2021 — or the insurrection, if you prefer.

Here’s the backstory: In 1868, Congress ratified Section 3 of Amendment 14 to the US Constitution to prevent government workers who had once taken an oath to uphold the Constitution but ultimately joined the Confederacy (the southern states) in the Civil War from getting government jobs in the postwar reunified country. To Congress, being a Confederate was tantamount to “engaging in insurrection.”

Now, 155 years later, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Trump is an insurrectionist and thereby disqualified from holding public office. Maine relied on the same legal argument to bounce Trump from its primary ballot. Five other states have rejected similar measures, and five more are still considering them.

Trump’s legal team contends January 6 was a political rally that turned violent, and not an insurrection; that the president is an elected official and not an officer of the United States, and therefore the definition under the law doesn’t apply to him. They also argue that only Congress —not individual states — has the right to apply Section 3 to an individual.

Bottom Line Despite its solid 6-3 conservative majority, which includes three Trump conservative appointees, the Supreme Court hasn’t shied away from ruling against their former benefactor, denying Trump’s motions to challenge the 2020 presidential election or to shield him from government investigations. This case, however, feels different. Would the Supreme Court set a major precedent that could open up future election to comparable lawsuits aimed at excluding one candidate or another? A ruling is expected around the March 5 “Super Tuesday” primaries when more than 1,200 delegates are up for grabs.

A Jury Puts the Knock on Trump

Even if the Supreme Court rules against Trump, it would be too late to oust him from Super Tuesday primaries, after which he may have built an insurmountable lead in the delegate count. If they do rule in his favor, he has other legal woes that might derail him. He faces trial on 41 counts of allegedly trying to overturn President Biden’s slim margin of victory in Georgia; three criminal counts of conspiracy and one for obstruction of justice stemming from the January 6 events; and 40 criminal counts alleging that he mishandled classified documents after he left office. Not to mention two additional New York cases relating to alleged hush money payments and alleged business fraud. While these last two are more of a personal embarrassment, the first three are serious, and a conviction could roil the faint-hearted among his supporters.

Bottom Line Trump’s attorneys are pulling out all of the stops to delay these cases so they don’t impact the election. Even if delay tactics fail and Trump is convicted on some charges, the vast majority of his supporters will vote for him anyway. Any guilty verdict would be appealed, stretching his cases out until after he takes the oath of office again on January 20, 2025, pardons himself, and fires his accusers.

Trump Knocks Himself Out

While many of Trump’s uncouth and bizarre statements only endear him to his ardent supporters, he could find himself in the position of winning the GOP primary battle but once again losing the general election war against Biden. We know that Trump is angry and frustrated and has never dropped his claims that election fraud denied him a second term.

Trump’s rhetoric harnesses the rage and fear of Americans that the country they knew and loved has strayed far from the vision of the Founding Fathers and is becoming increasingly inhospitable to white males. Yet it’s fair to wonder aloud how America can revert to being a kinder and gentler nation when its chief executive inflames passions by labeling his political opponents “vermin” and condemning immigrants with “poisoning the blood of the country.”

Bottom Line Chances are we haven’t yet heard the worst from Trump in 2024, and even if he doesn’t turn off loyal Republicans with his discourse, he might end up saying things that scare the living daylights out of the independent voters any presidential candidate needs to win.

Disaster Comes Knocking

Politico recently assembled a panel of “futurists, political analysts, and other prognosticators” to weigh in on “unpredictable but entirely possible events that could throw 2024 into turmoil” — as if upheaval hasn’t already arrived. One pundit suggested that protestors could get killed at a Trump campaign rally that turns violent. Another warned that “Mother Nature” may wreak havoc by unleashing a devastating climate event on America, plunging the campaign into an “end of days” debate that polarizes secular and religious Americans. Another imagined an extraterrestrial civilization communicating with earthlings — although he failed to explain how this would impact the presidential campaign. So I’ll pick it up where he left off.

Bottom Line

If an extra-terrestrial being lands on earth, and Trump hasn’t yet chosen his running mate, perhaps he could make an out-of-the-box pick? Or perhaps Biden could shore up his support with the DEI (diversity-equity-inclusion) movement and recommend the alien as Harvard’s new president? —


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 994)

Oops! We could not locate your form.