Believe it or not, Donald Trump looks likely to be the next US president

By Greg Sheridan in The Australian

The next president of the United States, elected in November 2024, is most likely to be … Donald J Trump!

That’s not a forecast. The election is too far away to forecast. Nor is it a judgment on whether it would be an unmitigated disaster, or have its benefits.

But all the trends we can now track – both the superficial trends and underlying dynamics – suggest that Republican gains in the midterm congressional elections in 2022 are likely, and a second Trump victory in 2024, bizarre as that may seem, is more likely than any other outcome.

The US election will have big implications for the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the US and Britain, and our possible acquisition, eventually, of nuclear-powered submarines.

Given everything that has happened, the mere possibility of a second Trump term is astounding. This is even more so given the shocking revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book, Peril, which covers the transition from Trump to Joe Biden.

Trump’s prospects arise from the position of Biden’s presidency. The numbers are bad for Biden and they are bad for good reasons. A new Quinnipiac University poll puts Biden’s approval rating at 38 per cent. A presidential approval rating with a 3 at the front of it, at any stage of an incumbent’s term, is absolutely dire. It generally forecasts poor prospects of re-election and for the president’s party in congressional midterms.

Even worse, on the keynote question, 61 per cent say the country on the wrong track and only 32 per cent say it’s heading in the right direction.

Biden’s collapsing polls are more remarkable given that less than a year ago he won by a handsome margin with more votes than any president in US history, and his party, the Democrats, control both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Disturbingly for Democrats, Biden is tanking with independent voters. Why? We can list the causes: the military withdrawal from Afghanistan was an incompetent disaster; the failure to control the southern border and the consequent flood of illegal immigrants is another disaster; the continued rise of Delta strain Covid infections and deaths is hurting morale and sapping business confidence; and gun violence and murder rates have soared following anti-police, liberal city policies.

Also, Biden promised unity but his own Democratic Party is chronically divided. Despite controlling all arms of government, it cannot pass basic legislation ­because it is split between the rising and ascendant left associated with the so-called congressional “Squad” and the remaining moderates who face tough re-election battles.

Biden’s reputation for competence is continually declining. Most US media is so determined to keep Trump at bay that they simply do not play the countless sequences where Biden is truly stumped for words, seemingly having lost his train of thought.

But over time, such performances filter out. An egregious example was when he couldn’t rem­ember Scott Morrison’s name in the highly scripted AUKUS ­virtual press conference. And while both sides of US politics are now big spenders, even Americans baulk at the $US5 trillion in new spending Biden proposes.

Finally, Hunter Biden is coming back to haunt his dad. Two New York Times columnists, Ross Douthat and Bret Stephens, have detailed a new book, written by an entirely credible political journalist, which shows that the compromising emails involving Hunter Biden, revealed last year in the New York Post and censored on the internet, were not Russian fakes but were genuine. Biden Jnr was using his dad’s connections in a series of sleazy, influence-trading business deals.

Hunter never gets any better. Though he has no record as an ­artist, a New York gallery now proposes to sell original works of art by Hunter Biden for hundreds of thousands of dollars to anonymous purchasers.

Just after the presidential election, according to Woodward’s book, Joe Biden called his old friend, Republican senator Lindsay Graham, to try to recover a working relationship. Graham wanted to help, but when the conversation turned to Hunter Biden, Graham remarked: “But Joe, if Mike Pence’s son or a Trump ­person did what Hunter did it’d be game, set, match.” Biden snr was furious.

Finally, it’s very unlikely Biden will run for a second term. If he did, he’d be just about to turn 82 on election day. In order to avoid becoming a lame duck, he will surely keep the possibility of running again alive as long as possible, but his cognitive decline is now so obvious that re-election is surely unimaginable.

His Vice-President, Kamala Harris, looks an exceptionally weak presidential candidate, in which case there would be a raucous Democratic primary contest with every chance the Bernie Sanders/Squad combination could ­secure nomination for someone from the left. Biden was, notwithstanding his limitations, the Democrats’ best candidate last time because he inherited the left’s enthusiasm for anyone but Trump, he had strong connections in the African-American electorate and above all he was the last Democrat with union connections and blue collar working class support. He was the Democrat with the best chance in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

So it’s pretty clear that Biden and the Democrats are vulnerable. Why is there any chance that Trump could win after all the turmoil of his first term and exit?

For a start, a Harvard-Harris poll puts Trump’s approval rating right now as significantly higher than Biden’s. Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, has a substantially higher approval rating than Harris, and Trump’s last secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has a big lead over Biden’s Antony Blinken.

Here’s one little paradox. Trump loved to hire and fire his cabinet secretaries and everyone else. He had to stick with Pence, and Pompeo was a long term Trump administration figure. These two got the best ­ratings from the Trump years and added most to the Trump ­administration.

So long as his health holds up, Trump would likely win the Republican primaries and be the candidate. He has the enthusiastic support of at least half the Republicans who vote in primaries, probably more. And while there are a number of credible Republican ­alternatives, none at this stage stands out. None has Trump’s profile or support level. And they would have to beat Trump in the primaries.

Should the miraculous happen and Trump lose the primaries, he would be an extremely disruptive sideline presence during the election itself, probably happy to see any Republican other than himself lose.

There is no significant anti-Trump movement among Republicans. Many of them privately detest him, but almost none of them running for office wants to make an enemy of him. Trump, grossly self-centred, has shown his dedication to revenge. He ­supports nominees in Republican primaries if they have been sufficiently devoted to him, and he ­opposes them if they’ve shown any significant independence.

Concerning the Ohio Republican primaries scheduled for next May, Trump says the key issue will be what he considers voter fraud and the “stolen election” of 2020. That is a crazy recipe. It involves no program going forward. But that’s what Trump wants from someone in order to endorse them. So the nomination is probably his if he wants it.

Can he win? Yes, he can, though he certainly can also lose.

He would benefit by showing himself a kingmaker in the midterm congressional elections but his chances in 2024 may possibly be maximised if the Democrats ­retain wafer thin control of congress. The Republicans would have enough power to stop the Democrats doing anything significant and then Trump could campaign against the paralysis of the Democrats even when they controlled the White House and the congress.

Trump’s prospects in 2024, however, remain extraordinarily fluid, complex and difficult to interpret. Indeed, Trump was not only the most extraordinary ­president of recent times but one of the hardest to judge, interpret and predict.

Here is where Woodward’s book is so useful. I have read all of Woodward’s books except his one on the Supreme Court. They are an unmatched guide to the inside workings at the top of American administrations, essential reading for any student of US politics.

Woodward is a good reporter. He doesn’t make things up and is virtually never disproved on a factual claim. His weakness is also his strength – he is very heavily dependent on his sources. But mostly it’s pretty obvious who his sources are.

One of the features of Peril is how much Trump’s closest advisers, especially Lindsay Graham and then attorney-general William Barr, were advising him to stop running on his personal grievances against the FBI or the congressional Democrats, that he should rein in the worst features of his own personality and run instead on his issues – the economy, jobs, economic nationalism, American strength internationally, and law and order.

Even against Biden, and even with the unmitigated hatred of the mainstream media, a disciplined Trump should have beaten Biden. He lost mainly because he mishandled Covid, he gave too much airtime to inside-the-Beltway issues concerning himself, and he lacked all discipline, especially in the first presidential debate.

Trump himself answers Graham, Barr and others who gave him similar advice always by reference to his base. They expect me to fight, he says. If I don’t fight, I’ll lose them. No doubt this was a real consideration for Trump, but you get the sense it was more just that his personality is so completely narcissistic that he couldn’t help himself.

Nonetheless, you can see the spectre of Trump haunting all American politics. Every day this week on CNN there were relentless attacks on Trump as though he were still president. In some hours, Trump got more coverage on CNN than Biden did. This is the surest sign that CNN fears a Trump victory in 2024.

As president, Trump was a mixture of good and bad. It’s silly and just analytically lazy, on either side, to think he was all one thing or all the other. However, after the November 2 election his conduct was utterly disgraceful.

Woodward records conversations straight after the election in which Trump acknowledged that he lost the vote to Biden.

But then he became obsessed with the ludicrous idea that the election was stolen from him. Woodward records that Barr, Trump’s hand picked attorney-general and until that point a ­complete Trump loyalist, running through with Trump just how absurd all the maniac claims of Rudy Giuliani about election fraud really were. Trump tried almost everything to subvert and frustrate the election result. He tried to intimidate Pence into refusing to count the Electoral College votes, as was Pence’s constitutional duty. He tried to intimidate Barr into declaring, on behalf of the Justice Department, that the election was fraudulent, when Barr knew it wasn’t. He wanted to deploy active service soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, rather than local National Guardsmen, to restore order in US cities which experienced riots. The then defence secretary, Mark Esper, again until then a complete Trump loyalist, declared publicly there was no justification for this. Trump fired him but nonetheless felt he couldn’t take actions Esper had ruled out.

Why doesn’t all this disqualify Trump from in 2024? Mainly because his enemies from day one have said so many things about Trump that are untrue – Russian collusion etc – that they have given him a kind of immunity against charges of personal dereliction.

There is no way of knowing whether a second-term Trump would resemble the best of his first term, or the Lady Macbeth gothic horrors of Trump in office after November 2.

The fabulous weirdness of the time we live in is evident in the mere fact that we need to actively contemplate such a question.


I think it’s too early to put bets whether Trump will run, and if so, what the Republican base will say. I agree with the writer that what Trump did after the election revealed all the demons he has had inside him, and which he had usually kept under control… and governed fairly well as long as he listened to a few trusted advisors. In the end, his expectation of personal loyalty from the people he had appointed demonstrated a certain recklessness. And as for the causes which brought all his supporters together, they would mostly be better served by a unifying figure who would actually work on the issues without getting sidetracked in personal vendetta.

But I think the author’s analysis is sound.


I suppose stranger things have happened. My more moderate friends still rake me over the coals if I say anything moderately positive about Trump. Anything at all.

The vaccine, no new wars, low unemployment, great returns for my retirement accounts, energy independence, some peace deals in the Middle East, finally someone with the stones to say No, China is not our friend, asking NATO to carry some of their own water, telling the United Nations to pound sand……I don’t know. There were some things I liked.

They say “he’s crazy, how can we unleash that much crazy on the rest of the world?” I say have you looked around lately? THEY’RE ALL CRAZY!!

OK… maybe not all of them.


I seriously doubt that- Trump loves his arms deals! Other than that, a very good analysis. Everybody focuses upon the fact that Republicans are loathe to challenge Trump, perceiving it as political cowardice- but what they fail to consider is that Trump actually brought whole new demographics into the Republican fold- including Blue Collar whites, Muslims, a historically high number of Latinos and also, to a lesser extent, a generation of younger African American men.

The other main issue is the Biden economy. It’s a disaster by comparison to the UK or Europe. Civiqs . Democrats are somewhat more optimistic, and one would expect Republicans to be more critical. But Independents and African Americans are closer to Republicans than Democrats in their view of the economy by a wide margin, and Latinos are almost identical to Republicans in their perception of a disastrous economy.

The smart money has Trump announcing at some point after the midterms, otherwise Biden can use the threat of him to galvanise support and to start to build a war chest. Personally, I wish he would exit stage right and allow a more populist lite candidate to emerge- someone willing to argue for the interests of blue collar workers on economic grounds, rather than occasionally resorting to unpleasant stereotypes. Niall Ferguson took a look at populist movements in American history for a Google Zeitgeist talk- he found that an economic downturn creating fears of economic scarcity and unemployment was always a crucial ingredient in their emergence.

This piece of somewhat partisan research was highly revealing:

What the report misses is that Trump is a symptom not the cause. America has become increasingly partisan since 2008 and the extent to which both sides see the other as an existential threat has increased dramatically. Ironically, I would say that the one thing which unites many is the extent to which Americans blame the link between political donors and politicians for many of America’s woes- especially in areas such as the financial sector, China, bad trade deals and offshoring.

In this respect, my sympathies lie more with conservatives than Left-leaning liberals or Leftist- because it reasonable to expect corporations to lobby for their own interest, but it is ineffable that politicians would sell out the American people’s interests for big money donations and a greater chance at political power. Whatever good they think they can achieve in political office, it can never be equal the awful harms which come from writing legislation which confers advantage to large conglomerates over competition and the little people.


Ha! It’s hilarious to see all of the ex-Quilleters who have emerged from their echo chamber to ‘like’ this post. Looks like they can’t stop themselves from lurking even though their ‘principles’ prevent them from ponying up the $5/month to actively participate.

As their Orange God-King would say:



Not true. George W. won more Latino votes than Trump.

Yes, to a much lesser extent.

Agreed. Trump is astonishingly ignorant and deranged, even by the low standards of American politics.

I don’t follow. Despite Trump’s pseudo-populist rhetoric, the GOP’s legislative and policy agenda remains subservient to the interests of the wealthy and corporations.


You’re talking about a fundamental difference in philosophy between conservatives and Left-leaning liberals- namely that conservatives believe that government is bad, and that spending money on it ultimately negates the somewhat superior public goods and employment opportunities which comes from having people free to spend their money commissioning goods and services from other people, whilst Left-leaning liberals see government as a general good, even in terms of public employment for public employment’s sake.

I was talking specifically about how the rules of the game are written, in terms of competition, where in the case of bureaucratic regulatory enforcement and cost which prevents small new entrants to the market, the Democrats have a far worse track record than Republicans- awful harms which come from writing legislation which confers advantage to large conglomerates over competition and the little people- after all, didn’t they used to call Joe Biden the senator from MBNA?

Disregard tax- and look at the far more important parts of regulatory government which impacts smaller, inherently more virtuous businesses- the reason why for the most part you have crap bread in America, is because you have one Federal Department which insists that bakery doors have to be open out, and another Department insisting they have to be open in- with neither bureaucracy caring that the other Department has different rules and smaller bakers are systemically exposed to exorbitant fines. Some bakers have taken to rapidly rehanging doors on the other side whenever regulators appear. Massive corporate bakeries can afford to install large motorised drop down doors in their warehouse size operations, which both bureaucracies are happy with and don’t fine.

The net result is fewer massive bakeries with bread facing a larger distance to market each day, with a higher sugar content in the bread (which is a preservative) Of course, if your market has had the same innovations as ours, at least you will now have access to in-store baked bread, with the pre-made dough delivered to the in-store ‘bakery’. Yet again this favours the larger players in the market.

Although this is a significant improvement, it is still substantially inferior to proper bread. First, most modern bread uses the Chorleywood process- which tastes shit. Second, more generally overly stringent safety considerations means that corporatized bread-making processes don’t allow the yeast enzymes to digest the bread to anywhere the levels it needs to make the bread tasty. And there are also a number of additives and preservatives in most bread which detract from both taste and texture. Finally, there is a real compromise in quality because most in-store bakeries butcher the baking process in pursuit of a nice golden crust which overbakes the bread- which wouldn’t really be necessary if they didn’t overcrowd the ovens.

Ever tried artisanal bread? This is the way that all bread used to taste like- yet now it is overpriced because the only people can afford it are willing to pay the cost of a high priced location. All of this was caused by the governments of West, other than a few European countries like France who knew their populations would be up in arms at this state imposed murder of decent bread! :smiley: To say that all of this was caused by lower prices is a complete fiction- it was just that governments fell for the lie that modernity would bring lower prices- when in actuality the requirements of supporting an office infrastructure and business bureaucracy create far higher costs than those made from any savings related to economy of scale.

And at the same time your government is completely negligent when it comes to matters of product safety. Your government actually has a rule for exactly how much rat droppings are allowed in a jar of turmeric! Here in the UK, I can be assured that however much my jar contains, it is not detectable by a food lab…

That’s what I mean and The Rules of the Game. Forget the tax for a minute. Both your parties are negligent on this far more important aspect of government, it’s just they are criminals of different kinds- the Dems are the thieves stealing opportunities from ordinary decent Americans, and the Reps are the fences offering them back to a select few at a price.

In addition, the DNC remains largely deaf to the excellent ground game executed by the team in Arizona, which more closely resembled a Bernie-style economic progressive operation, than the Latinx cultural progressivism establishment Dems think will win over Latinos who are up for grabs. In particular, with the repeal of Prop 209, most Latinos didn’t want anything to do with affirmative action, preferred public employment and are not keen on CRT at all- at least according to the last Civiqs poll I looked at, which is no longer listed. And remember there is a huge crossover support between Bernie and Trump support, just as many who voted for Obama’s promise of change ultimately voted for Trump. In many ways it’s like the automatic assumption that African Americans would naturally favour Kamala Harris just because she is Black, when the earlier polling should that Joe Biden and various others were far more popular with this demographic.

America may be fairly consistent in its voting patterns statistically from election cycle to election cycle, but what most pundits miss or fail to elucidate is that much of the exhausted middle will switch from election to election, but will switch in different ways and for different reasons- with many or most of the shifts cancelling each other out.


One day I was looking for guidance regarding what 2024 will be like, and I hit on the idea that the Republican primaries could be like the struggles that surrounded the end of the Roman Republic. Caesar vs Pompey vs Marc Antony? That could be Trump vs Pompeo vs, perhaps, Marco Rubio. And maybe Octavian would be Trump Jr.

Yes, it’s silly, but at least it produced a concrete scenario, which in my experience is important when you’re staring into the unknown… Next up, figure out who the Democrats might be running for office. :slight_smile:

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The article’s prediction seems realistic, but I truly hope that the Republicans manage to field a more capable candidate for 2024 than Donald Trump Reloaded.

It was certainly fun having Trump for four years as a big f-you finger in front of the self-absorbed, arrogant progressive establishment. But this did not in the least prevent the woke disease from spreading further and further in society. It wasn’t until a few weeks before the end of his term and thus far too late when Trump came up with the idea to ban CRT propaganda in federal agencies and the military. And he did nothing at all to push back against the increasing encroachment and censorship of Twitter, Facebook and Google against dissident opinions and their control over public discourse.

Therefore, If I may make one wish, it would be a Republican candidate for 2024 who would be able to develop a plan to counteract these dangerous developments and perhaps even help stop and defeat the rampant wokeism. Funny as it may be, the situation is just too serious for another round of cabaret.


Personal insults regarding how someone looks. Very becoming.


Trump’s absurd appearance is the least of his flaws.


This is well-said. My view has been that Trump, with all his absurdities, actually exposed the nature of the swamp as far more insidious than many would have believed. And it has brought many of the dark creatures out into the open, proving that they are indeed powerful and sneaky , but nevertheless largely exposing the nature of the threat,

But, like you @Sane.World, I believe that the response requires a candidate who understands the long game, and is not in it for ego.


What is the least of his flaws?


Actually, I think it’s SAD!

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The only way the Republican candidate doesn’t win in 2020 is if they nominate Trump. We all know we cannot afford a third failed government.

Presently, Trump is making the most noise and has a decent war chest but he is in the same place Jeb Bush was in 2016, his support is very soft amongst much more than half of registered Republicans and almost non-existent amongst Independents. Never forget, Independent voters are 40% of the electorate and registered Republicans are not quite 30% of the electorate.

Keep an eye on Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, who is providing the only Republican and public political opposition to the utterly corrupt and totalitarian Biden administration. He won’t say whether or not he will run but he is under a lot of pressure to run. If he does run I think he is a lock to win the nomination.

I don’t at all agree with your source’s assessment of William Barr; he is a longtime DoJ and Washington insider brought in only usher Trump out with the least possible damage. Calling Barr a Trump loyalist is laughable. Also Bob Woodward is not really a reliable source in these kinds of matters. His primary objective seems to be selling books and is thought to not mind stretching a “quote” to do so.

The Republican Party is changing very quickly. It just severed ties with the Chamber of Commerce.


Agreed. I think the Democrats and the press are much more concerned about DeSantis than Trump. The media’s treatment of DeSantis’ handling of COVID has been vicious, especially the coverage coming from CNN.


Unlike Trump, DeSantis appears to be an extremely competent operator who knows how to run a high public office.


A view somewhat similar to the original piece.


Democrats and anti-Trump conservatives would do well to heed these warnings. Biden had a relatively simple job to do: be (or at least appear to be) competent, don’t say stupid shit, prevent progressives from overreaching and alienating moderates. He completely botched the Afghanistan withdrawal, has made multiple gaffes (including some very consequential ones), and was persuaded to see himself as a transformational FDR-style president rather than an inoffensive caretaker whose main appeal is that he’s not Trump.

The Democrats’ messaging on the bloated reconciliation bill has been abysmal. Far more Americans know about its insane multi-trillion-dollar price tag than they do about its actual components, some of which poll well. The Dems would have been better served to pass each of the measures separately and force the Republicans to take unpopular stands by filibustering them. Then they could focus on promoting and passing a handful of the most popular proposals, running on their success in the 2022 midterms. Instead, the public sees a legislative clusterf*** and concludes that the Dems are just as ineffectual as their Republican colleagues.

It’s obviously too soon to make any kind of predictions about the outcome of the 2024 election, especially since it’s unclear that either Biden or Harris will be on the ticket. But Democrats and anti-Trump conservatives should remind themselves of how they felt on the night Trump won and do everything in their power to prevent that from happening again.


The purposeful, willful debacle on our southern border tells me that the Democratic Party, now run by the Left, simply doesn’t care anymore. Mexico is flooded with central- and south-Americans trooping northwards. (In Cancun, Mexican police are actually enforcing their law requiring tourists to carry their passports and FMM documents with them, per TripAdvisor they’re doing random stops and detaining people who can’t produce them.)

Moderate Democrats appear to be ineffectual at stopping these hard-Left policy-makers from doing whatever they want. Until they start vocally and aggressively standing up to their own radicals, I don’t ever want to hear mainstream Democrats bitch about a possible Trump (or some other Republican) victory in 2024.