For anyone on the left side of the political spectrum (and a growing number of those on the right side), the thought of Donald Trump running for president in 2024 is a ghastly proposition. But there are many reasons why Democrats might prefer Trump to be the GOP nominee than his likely main primary opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Here are seven of them.

1. A Trump run will energize the anti-Trump vote.

After one Trump term in the White House, many voters who had abstained in 2016 decided to come to the polls just to vote against him. Iowa resident LeAnne Putman-Thomas never felt the urgency to vote until Trump ran for re-election in 2020. “His presidency has ignited something bad that was festering in this country,” she told Reuters in the run-up to the 2020 vote. “I want to be part of the solution.”

That same feeling would energize the anti-Trump vote in 2024. However, if DeSantis gets the Republican nomination, the Florida governor could take that anti-Trump vote away from the Democratic nominee.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more voters (154.6 million) went to the polls in the last presidential election, when Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in 2020, than when Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 (137.5 million). That change represents the biggest increase in voters between consecutive presidential elections since the voting supplement was added to the Current Population Survey in 1964, and 2024 will likely follow that trend if Trump runs.

In 2016, 40% of eligible voters decided to stay home, according to Pew Research, which also noted that nonvoters were “much more Democratic.” Four years later, when Biden beat Trump, Americans came to polls in record numbers, with the highest rate of voters coming to the polls in more than a century. It is easy to see why another Trump run could inspire traditional nonvoters to support the Democrat ticket, which may not happen if DeSantis is the GOP’s pick.

2. Independents do not want a second Trump presidency.

In 2020, Trump lost the independent vote and lost the election. And a recent poll conducted by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist reveals that independents overwhelmingly (67%) do not want Trump to run in 2024.

The independent vote, which was key to Biden’s 2020 win, has become a king-making bloc. “Independent and unaffiliated voters are having a moment. And this time, it appears that the moment is something more enduring, as those with no major party affiliation have increasing control over the fates of Democrats and Republicans seeking office,” writes Susan Milligan, a senior political writer at U.S. News & World Report.

3. Trump will not get the suburban GOP vote.

Historically, Republicans could count on suburban female voters. But in the 2018 midterms, this voting bloc helped power a blue wave that handed many House seats to Democrats. And Trump’s bungling of the nation’s COVID-19 response has just made it worse for the GOP.

“Common sense suggests that suburban women were skeptical about Trump before the pandemic,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “Having their lives utterly disrupted by school closings and trying to help 6- and 7-year-olds learn virtually while also holding down a job has simply exacerbated their preexisting skepticism about Trump.”

The GOP is moving away from Trump and gathering steam around Governor DeSantis.

If Trump runs in 2024, the suburban vote—which was central to Biden’s victory over Trump in 2020—will be a bulwark against another Trump term. Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said that Trump is “a real anchor around the ankles for Republicans with the exact type of suburban, independent voters, especially women, that they’re trying to win back.”

“That new swing voter in American politics is the suburban voter, and it’s really clear the suburban voter doesn’t like Trump, but they like Republicans,” said former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan during a recent Fox Business interview. “So I think anybody not named Trump … is so much more likely to win the White House for us.”

4. Trump’s support has leveled out.

Trump continues to be unpopular outside of his base, and that base isn’t growing. “The level of support for another Trump campaign remains virtually unchanged from December 2020, the month after he lost the presidential election and weeks before a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of the Electoral College votes,” writes Matt Loffman, the deputy senior politics producer for PBS NewsHour.

“His numbers don’t move. They’re locked in,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. “The good thing for former President Trump is his numbers don’t drop. The bad thing is he’s only talking about a third of the electorate who are in his corner.”

5. Trump is a loser.

Writing in the aftermath of the midterm elections, the Economist succinctly encapsulated Trump’s record as a loser:

“In 2020 he was the first incumbent since Jimmy Carter to follow a president from the other party and then lose. In 2018 the Republicans lost 41 seats in the House under the Trump banner (Democrats may have lost only a handful this week). Even at his moment of greatest triumph, in 2016, he lost the popular vote and only narrowly beat a candidate who was trying to follow a two-term president from her own party, something which rarely happens. Now 2022 can be added to this less-than-stellar streak.”

6. Trump is wounded, DeSantis is ascendant.

The GOP is moving away from Trump and gathering steam around Governor DeSantis. After four years of chaos under a Trump White House, many Republicans view DeSantis as the more sane choice.

GOP megadonor Ken Griffin, the CEO of Citadel, an investment firm, said he was ready to put his financial muscle behind DeSantis, essentially suggesting that Trump’s domination of the Republican party is over. “[Trump] did a lot of things really well and missed the mark on some important areas,” Griffin told Politico. “And for a litany of reasons, I think it’s time to move on to the next generation.”

A majority of Americans do not want Trump to run again.

Across the conservative media landscape following the Republicans’ surprisingly poor performance—particularly among Trump-anointed MAGA candidates—the view is that the biggest midterm loser is Donald Trump. Media properties owned by conservative magnate Rupert Murdoch—historically pro-Trump—have repudiated the former president.

On November 10, Murdoch’s New York Post featured Trump’s face on its front cover with the headline, “Trumpty Dumpty.” The paper wrote, “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall—can all of the GOP’s men put the party back together again?”

If DeSantis is the GOP nominee, Republicans will vote for him in force. But if Trump is the nominee, the Democratic nominee will get votes—and financial support—from the Never Trump Republicans. And there are a lot of them, particularly in battleground states.

Five months before the 2020 election, a New York Times/Siena College survey found that Biden enjoyed a 35-point lead over Trump among battleground state voters who in 2016 supported a third-party candidate. The Democratic nominee may well enjoy a similar lead in 2024 if Trump leads the GOP ticket.

“Any small percentage of voters who no longer support [Trump] could be critical in closely matched swing states,” said Ayres, the GOP pollster.

7. Democratic strategists are correct to fear DeSantis more than they fear Trump.

“Democrats watching this emerging rivalry are far more fearful of a DeSantis presidential nomination than they are of a Trump retread,” writes Alex Thomas for the New Republic. “The former president is mired in an array of political and legal scandals. Weighed down by his ego, he sinks deeper into derangement each time he opens his mouth or his Truth Social app. A sizable chunk of the Republican base is exhausted with him.”

“To me, DeSantis is the scarier prospect,” a Democratic strategist told the Hill in August. “He’s a smarter version of Trump, he’s way more strategic, and he doesn’t have a hundred lawsuits at his feet.”

Polling bears out this fear. An August YouGov survey suggests that for Republicans, DeSantis may fare better than Trump in a general election against Biden. DeSantis’ impressive midterm reelection win—which included performing well among Latinos, normally a solid Democratic voting bloc—has given Republicans something to cheer about, just as they shake their heads at the negative impact that Trump has had on GOP candidates across the midterm election.

Some Democratic strategists are chomping at the bit for Trump to run in 2024, saying that his brand of wacky, violent, and dangerous extremism would provide an easier foil to run against. “It puts in perspective what’s at stake, shows that the Republican Party is still extreme, and helps set up the contrast,” said former White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond.

“Democrats need to home in on what they stand for—from their agenda to their values and contrast it with how extreme the other side is and what they want to do,” said Richmond, who is now a senior adviser at the Democratic National Committee. He added that having Trump as the GOP frontrunner “will help Democrats.”

In a recent Politico opinion piece criticizing Trump’s “disastrous foreign policy record,” James B. Foley, a former career Foreign Service Officer who served as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti and Croatia, wrote that it is an “utterly damning fact that [Trump] lost the 2020 election and is destined to carry the party to defeat once again.”

Whether or not that destiny will be fulfilled remains to be seen. But we do know that a majority of Americans do not want Trump to run again. Overall, 61% of Americans—including 90% of Democrats and 26% of Republicans—would prefer not to see another Trump run for the White House. This fact alone makes him an excellent foil for the Democrats in 2024.

Former House Speaker Ryan was succinct in his assessment of Trump’s chances in 2024: “We won’t nominate Trump, because we want to win.”

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig