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Trump’s Big Mo, Six Takeaways

Six ways for Donald Trump to amp up his campaign 

Photo: AP Images


ow they will be after me, howling and yowling at my heels. What we will have is momentum. We will look forward to Big Mo being on our side, as they say in athletics.”

An animated George H. W. Bush said this after winning the 1980 Iowa caucuses. He was right. Winning a presidential caucus or primary generates big momentum. But has anybody seen momentum like Trump has built up? Defeating opponents by double digits isn’t just “Big Mo,” it’s “Gigantic Mo.” That should fire up the Republican base and carry him to the nomination.

The question looking forward now centers on the general election. Pundits have all now moved on from wondering who can beat Trump for the GOP nomination to wondering if Trump can beat Biden. Now that he has momentum, there are six things Trump can do to greatly improve his chances of being reelected.


  1. Framing the 2020 election. Americans won’t support candidates perceived as losers. According to the University of Virginia Center for Politics, out of 46 rematch Senate elections, in which a defeated former incumbent returned against a victorious challenger, only six resulted in the former upending the latter.

Only a few former presidents have ever even tried for rematches. It’s typically not a winning formula, as former presidents are perceived as losers. Trump has tried to portray himself as the true winner of the 2020 election, and he will likely continue to avoid the “loser” label, which can bring down rematch candidates. Polls show that as much as 70% of the GOP base believes the narrative that Trump didn’t lose.

Will this work with moderates? Trump’s team will try to make the case.


  1. Tie the economy to Joe Biden. Biden is trying to claim the economy is recovering, but he has more work to do persuading voters of that. For example, an ABC News/Ipsos poll showed that only 13% of American feel better off financially since Biden took office. Trump will poke at that low number to win reelection. That was the strategy employed by Grover Cleveland, the only previous president to lose and successfully come back and win reelection four years later.


  1. Solidifying the Republican base. Trump won handily in Iowa by consolidating the Republican base. To win the general, he will need to improve on this. A recent New York Times article highlighted how Trump has regained his footing among college-educated Republicans. The story looks at a USA Today/Suffolk University poll after 2020 showing that 76% of college-educated Republicans wanted a different nominee for president then. Now the same pollster finds that 60% of college-educated Republicans would support Trump in 2024. This group, which he once appeared to have lost, is now back in his camp. But to win the general election, Trump also needs to…


  1. Eat into the Democratic base. In my last column, about how the immigration debate will play out, I briefly discussed where Hispanic voters would end up. Republican strategists this past week bragged to me about how they’ve successfully made inroads into the Hispanic community with their economic messaging and social policies. Polls continue to show Trump winning over this electorate, which is over 10% of the voting public, residing in key battleground states such as Florida, Arizona, and Nevada.

Where else can Trump and the GOP eat into the Democratic base? Polls have also shown him inching up with black voters, another key Democratic demographic. Democrats don’t want to be on the defensive, and these poll numbers paint a troubling picture for them in 2024.


  1. Trials as rocket fuel. So many impeachments. So many trials. It appears that Trump and his surrogates are using them successfully to expand beyond his base by convincing potential voters that this is all politics as usual. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a page ripped out of another political playbook.

In 1998, when Bill Clinton was battling scandals, Hilary Clinton claimed in an interview that it was due to a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” She had forged a permanent weapon in political warfare. The tactic is simple — claim that trials are all partisan, and the plaintiffs are trying to hurt you politically. Trump has so far executed this maneuver perfectly. Every time something happens in any of his trials, his poll numbers seem to go up. The accusations against him fuel his political base and pull other potential constituencies into his orbit.


  1. Running mate pick: “Once there were two brothers: One ran away to sea, the other was elected vice president, and nothing was ever heard from either of them again.” This joke was told by Thomas Marshall, vice president to Woodrow Wilson. He joined a long list of VPs who thought the job practically invisible. I’m not so sure that’s going to be the case with Trump’s pick.

Trump can go one of two directions, either of which would help his campaign. He could make a conventional Republican Party selection; for example, Elise Stefanik or Tim Scott. Such a pick would be perceived as a responsible move that stabilizes his campaign and gives voters confidence that if his tribulations catch up to him, there is a co-pilot who can quickly step in.

Or he could pick a vice president further to the right than he is and more vocal in the press. Selecting, for example, Vivek Ramaswamy or Majorie Taylor Green would fire up his GOP base while doubling the amount of press coverage the campaign attracts.

Either direction would have the added benefit of putting Kamala Harris in the spotlight. The vice president’s polling continues to lag Biden. A USA Today/Suffolk University survey shows her with a 57% disapproval rating and trailing Biden among both black voters and young voters.

With numbers like that, the GOP strategy may be to draw Harris into the race on a more day-to-day basis with an attention-grabbing or marquee VP candidate.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 996)

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