Midterms 2022 is set for a Republican showdown in 2024

Speculation that the 2022 midterm elections would be a red wave for Republicans has been proven wrong. In fact, November 8 ended well for the Democrats. With fewer than expected losses in the House of Representatives and a Senate still blue, the Biden administration retained more power than expected. While Republicans held onto their governorships in Georgia, Florida and Texas, Democrats won in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. In Michigan, Democrats overturned both the House and Senate, giving Democrats a trifecta for the first time since 1982. Reproductive rights were on the ballot in five states, with all ballot initiatives resulting in pro-choice victories.

While Election Day results will determine the balance of power for the next two years, the focus is already on 2024 — specifically the Republican primary. Former President Donald Trump’s inability to bring big gains to Republicans has cast doubt on his ability to lead the party to retaking the White House in 2024. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems poised to fight for the Republican nomination.

While Trump announced his re-election bid on November 15, no one should expect him to pull off an easy victory. Given DeSantis’ strong performance in the Florida gubernatorial race and Trump’s failure to deliver major Republican victories, America should prepare for a Republican primary pitting Trump against DeSantis.

Not only are political pundits and commentators predicting that DeSantis will challenge Trump in the 2024 Republican primary, but Trump seems to fear the same scenario. On Election Day, the former president spoke to reporters about the possibility of a DeSantis run, saying it would be a mistake because “I’m going to tell you things about him that aren’t going to be very flattering. I know more about him than anyone other than maybe his wife, who is really campaigning for him.” Trump also did not endorse DeSantis this election cycle, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” at a rally the Saturday before Election Day.

Trump has good reason to fear a DeSantis challenge in 2024. While some Trump-backed candidates were successful on Election Day, such as newly elected Senator Elect JD Vance from Ohio and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, many were unsuccessful. like Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. Trump no longer has the grip on the Republican Party he once had. Even in Florida, DeSantis won a higher percentage of the vote than Senator Marco Rubio, who received confirmation from Trump last year. As Trump continues to set the direction of the Republican Party, voters aren’t as drawn to him as they used to be.

Trump’s reelection bid could be further marred by his ongoing legal troubles with the Justice Department and the Jan. 6 committee subpoena. Those issues could continue his challenges to the electorate, evidenced by the absence of his backed candidates, who won this year’s election.

DeSantis, on the other hand, has been growing in popularity among voters, at least in the state of Florida. In 2018, DeSantis won the gubernatorial election by a narrow margin of 0.4% over Democratic challenger Andrew Gillum. That year, DeSantis won by a 19.4% margin. DeSantis also won a higher share of the vote in 2020 than Trump, who received 51.2% of the vote in Florida versus President Joe Biden’s 47.9%. Additionally, DeSantis did well in traditional Democratic strongholds like Miami-Dade County, showing that DeSantis could do well in other swing states and districts.

DeSantis can also use the policies he established as governor to his advantage. DeSantis has taken controversial political action to become a star of the right. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted DeSantis to implement a variety of policies that singled him out in conservative circles and appalled those on the left. DeSantis banned mask requirements in schools and lifted COVID-19 restrictions on businesses in September 2020. Alongside the COVID-19 guidelines, DeSantis signed into law restricting discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity, and critical racial theory, all of which appeal to many Republicans. DeSantis has also taken action at the national level. He chartered flights to bring Venezuelan asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in September and refuses to say whether or not he supports Trump’s 2020 election lies.

DeSantis’ actions and policies appeal to the right without adopting Trump’s approach of brazen election denial and potentially criminal behavior. However, Trump has an advantage over DeSantis. He has a notoriety and still maintains a base of supporters; DeSantis’ national ambitions could not only make for a bitter primary season, but also cause a split in the Republican Party.

With it unclear whether Biden will seek re-election, the 2024 election has the potential to be hotly contested on both sides of the aisle. Although Trump has announced his re-election campaign, it is unwise to assume that he will be the Republican nominee. With Trump’s comments on DeSantis and the governor’s policies continuing to make national headlines, it seems likely Trump will face DeSantis in a bitter primary that will divide the Republican electorate in 2024.

Lydia Storella is an opinion columnist and can be reached at [email protected].