Former President Donald Trump said he was looking “beyond seriously” at running for the White House again in 2024. If he does jump in, will Utahns welcome a third chance to vote for him?
“I’m looking at it very seriously. Beyond seriously,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview broadcast Monday evening. “From a legal standpoint, I don’t want to really talk about it yet, it’s a little too soon.”
“I got tremendous numbers. Nobody has ever gotten the numbers I got. No sitting president has come even close,” Trump said. “There’s more popularity now than there was the day before the election because they see how bad things are at the border.”
Trump lost the national popular vote twice. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton got 2.8 million more votes than Trump, and, in 2020, Joe Biden won by more than 7 million votes. Trump’s approval rating never crossed 50% when he was president.
Trump carried Utah twice (in 2016 and 2020) but he severely underperformed in doing so.
He got 45.5% of the vote in 2016 but bounced back with a majority in 2020, defeating Biden with 58%. That’s far below what previous Republican nominees have done in ruby-red Utah. Mitt Romney captured nearly 73% in 2012, and John McCain got 62% in 2008. George W. Bush won twice with 71.5% in 2004 and 69% in 2000.
The last time a Democratic presidential candidate carried Utah was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
Trump’s 2020 election performance was worse than other Republicans on Utah’s ballot. Spencer Cox ran 5 points better statewide than Trump in his winning gubernatorial bid. Trump also ran behind most of the Republicans running for Congress in their individual districts. Blake Moore’s winning percentage in the 1st District was 6 points higher than Trump’s. Chris Stewart finished 3.5% ahead of the former president, and John Curtis was more than 9 points better than Trump. Only Burgess Owens ran behind Trump. He finished 4 percentage points worse.
Outgoing Utah GOP Chairman Derek Brown says any talk of 2024 at this point is premature.
“We just need to wait and see how national trends shake out. A lot can happen between now and then,” Brown said. “There are a lot of mixed feelings about Trump in the party.”
Brown said whoever succeeds him as the head of the Utah Republican Party at next week’s state convention needs to focus on the 2022 midterm elections. He also says Republicans should spend less time worrying about who will be the party’s presidential nominee in 2024 and more time paying attention to long-term trends that he views as troublesome for the state’s dominant political party.
“My concern is the states surrounding Utah where Trump didn’t win in 2020,” says Brown. He points to Arizona, which last went for a Democrat in 1992. “I’m really worried about the states around Utah that are turning blue.”
Former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes was one of Trump’s biggest cheerleaders in the state and tied himself to the former president during his 2020 gubernatorial run.
“Border security instead of crisis?” Hughes said. “Tax cuts instead of tax increases? $2/gallon gas instead of $3.50/gal and climbing?”
Hughes was one of the first Utah politicians to support Trump during his first run in 2016, and his enthusiasm for the former president has not wavered since. He says there are some real contrasts between Trump and his successor.
“If people thought that President Trump was going to disappear from the political landscape after the November election, I could have told them that he would continue to have a strong voice in American politics,” Hughes said.
Trump is the only president to be impeached twice.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney voted to convict Trump in both of those impeachment trials, becoming the first senator to vote against a president from one’s own party during impeachment.