Republicans Must Be Cautious About Any Primary Runs

Griffen Smith | United States

For the last year or so, potential candidates for the 2020 election have received tremendous media attention. In fact, ABC, NBC, and Fox News have had sub-pages they solely dedicated to gossip about what, when, and who will spark the race to the oval office. The voting booths won’t deliver the true result of the 2020 mystery for another 21 months. However, there is beginning to be a real sense of movement in American politics.

In the last month, Democrats Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Cory Booker have declared a run for POTUS. Several others have also launched their hat into the ring, and an ex-advisor even says Hillary Clinton running is not unreasonable. There have even been rumors that former Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz will run as a third-party candidate. While all the excitement is building on the 2020 election, one detail seems rather peculiar. Republicans only have incumbent Donald Trump running.

2020 Primary Concerns

The Washington Post Op-Ed recently ran a piece calling for an in-party run at Trump. In doing so, they explained that “[Trump] has strong support from elements of the Republican base, but he has alienated virtually everyone else, especially those segments of the electorate that are growing the fastest”. The writers explained how lesser-known Candidates like Larry Hogan of Maryland or Senator Ben Sasse could gain a stronghold in the GOP. To do so, they would need to attract anti-Trump conservatives and Trump’s base alike.

It seems like a breeze to topple Trump due to his low approval rating of 39.4%. However, Republicans must be careful about having another primary such as the 2016 extravaganza.

In the past, competitive primaries have killed presidential re-election campaigns, especially if the incumbent pulls out a victory. The easiest instance to point at is the Ford-Reagan primary of 1976. Reagan, an inexperienced politician, led a very close primary race to the incumbent Gerald Ford, only losing the GOP nomination by a couple of percentage points. In turn, the primary split fragmented the GOP and Ford lost to Jimmy Carter.

An ultimately more important race for America to remember involves the 1980 Democrat primary featuring Carter and Ted Kennedy. Kennedy and Carter personally insulted each other even throughout the convention. In the end, Carter won the primary, only to lose to Reagan in one of the biggest landslides ever.

Can Another Republican Win?

So, Republicans must be careful that any primary run is not going to end with mudslinging. If this occurs, it’s a near guarantee that Democrats will have a majority of power on the hill.

On the other hand, the last 2 years under President Trump have not left people happy. After all, polls on ethical standards rank him the lowest in recordable history. Many are asking why this term shouldn’t be the first time two candidates of the same party split an 8-year stint as president.

In this already unstable political atmosphere, it appears that a primary run against Donald Trump would only severely splinter the Republican party, no matter how low the current president’s approval rating is.


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