Labor Day weekend was long held as a signal that political campaigns were about to get fully, completely, underway.
This Labor Day weekend might signal the opposite – that the race for the GOP presidential nomination is all but over.
The latest polling data from the Wall Street Journal shows that among self-described Republican primary voters, former President Donald Trump has expanded his lead over the rest of the field, with 59 percent saying he’s their first choice for the nomination. That’s up from 48 percent back in late April.
As for the competition….Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is currently the first choice of 13 percent of primary voters – down from 24 percent in April.
The rest of the GOP field muddles along in the single digits, with only Nikki Haley (eight percent) and Vivek Ramaswamy (five percent) barely exceeding the poll’s plus or minus four percent margin of error.
The usual caveats apply to such data, of course. It’s a snapshot in time. The numbers will change, particularly as the campaigns mature (meaning some drop out and those supporters go elsewhere) and events dictate the content and tenor of the race.
But regarding some of the big events that shaped the campaign so far – namely, Trump’s persistent and growing legal troubles – that just doesn’t seem to faze primary voters.
If anything, it’s galvanized some behind the former president:
Asked about the indictments of Trump, more than 60% of Republican primary voters said each was politically motivated and without merit. Some 78% said Trump’s actions after the 2020 election were legitimate efforts to ensure an accurate vote, while 16% said Trump had illegally tried to block Congress from certifying an election he had lost. About half, or 48%, said the indictments made them more likely to vote for Trump in 2024, while 16% said they made them less likely to support him for a second term.
Again, all of this is subject to change, particularly as the federal trial on election interference gets underway in March – right before Super Tuesday when a rich cache of convention delegates is at stake.
For the candidates who didn’t break the “zero” barrier in the Journal poll, these next few days ought to be a time for serious reflection. Their chances of making a serious breakthrough are vanishingly small to nonexistent. It very much appears that the money, time and effort they have put into campaigning to date has shown no tangible results. The sensible thing would be to admit reality, get out and move on.
But sense often collides with vanity in politics, so don’t count on a mass exodus of wannabe nominees.
But do count on big-dollar donors who underwrite the PACs and other campaign engines driving these marginal campaigns to think very hard about moving their support – and money – elsewhere. Or simply out of the race entirely.
Norman Leahy has written about national and Virginia politics for more than 30 years with outlets ranging from The Washington Post to BearingDrift.com. A consulting writer, editor, recovering think tank executive, and campaign operative, Norman lives in Virginia.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. It first appeared in American Liberty News.