In another signal, Trump’s announcement last month that he would seek to regain the presidency in 2024 was greeted by a loud silence among top Republicans.
There are indications that his future may be even worse. While a recent New York court verdict condemning the business practices of his real estate organization did not directly mention Trump, he is the target of a series of pending legal investigations. What nobody can predict is how these legal cases will play out — and how their result will impact his political prospects.
Assuming he goes through with his candidacy, many state Republican primary rules enable a candidate who finishes first in a large field to get most of its delegates. Republicans almost certainly will have a large field.
Republican chances in 2024 could be affected by the degree to which Trump helps the ultimate nominee in the general election. In a worst-case scenario, a Trump independent candidacy would almost certainly drain off enough GOP votes to cost Republicans the presidency.
Finally, Trump has enormous financial resources. He retains most of the millions he has collected over the past two years, either to fight his unproven contention he was cheated in 2020 or to support various Republican candidates. How and where he chooses to use that money could also have an impact on GOP chances.
One thing seems certain: More Republicans than ever want nothing to do with Trump after he hosted two antisemitic allies and raised the question of suspending the Constitution in his never-ending but futile quest to overturn the election more than two years ago.
But that attitude remains far more true among leading party figures who have long chosen to enable him than among the rank-and-file. Indeed, direct top-level GOP condemnation of Trump was harsher at some points in 2016 than it is today.
On the other hand, just enough 2016 Trump voters had tired of him by 2020 to cost him re-election. Even more have reached that conclusion now, clearly threatening his standing among the Republicans who will pick their party’s next presidential nominee.