It’s March of 2021, less than six months after the last Presidential election and barely a month after Joe Biden was sworn in, and yet the 2024 horse race silliness is well under way.
It feels like every other day or so there is a new poll out on who Republicans prefer to be the party’s nominee in 2024 and even decidedly unscientific findings – like the CPAC straw poll – are touted as tea leaves to be read about the future of the Republican Party.
An April 2013 Quinnipiac Poll of Republican primary voters found Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) leading the pack with 19%, followed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) with 17%, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) with 15%, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) with 14% and Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) with 10%.
Not even mentioned in the poll was New York businessman Donald J. Trump (R-NY), the man who would go on to win the nomination and the Presidency.
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That same poll asked Republicans what their top issue of concern was, the economy topped the list at 24%, followed by the deficit at 16%, immigration (the issue that animated much of Trump’s primary victory in 2016) was near the bottom with just 5%. America First doesn’t registerm nor did trade.
So what does that 2013 poll tell us about polling in spring of 2021? Ignore it! It’s useless.
While the cable news pundits might enjoy attempting to read the 2024 tea leaves in March of 2021, the truth is that not only do we have no idea who the nominee might be, we don’t even know what the issues that will be animating the party’s faithful will be by the time the primaries begin in earnest.
While the polling and horserace handicapping might be garbage at this early stage, one thing is absolutely clear: the America First bench is deep and getting deeper every day.
While Governors Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Kristi Noem (R-SD) are getting a ton of attention right now from the MAGA crowd – and rightfully so given their stellar handling of the COVID pandemic – the truth is that the bench for pro-Trump, America First candidates is way deeper than that, and we have rising stars who are just beginning to burn bright.
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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and the former Press Secretary for President Trump, is a candidate for Governor in her home state of Arkansas in 2022.
Sanders is nothing short of a superstar to the populist GOP base. Sanders deftly handled the job of Press Secretary – arguably the most difficult job in Washington during the Trump administration – and has proved to be a tireless fighter on behalf of the America First agenda.
While this is Sanders’ first run at political office, she is the daughter of a former Governor and well-beloved Republican star in his own right – Mike Huckabee.
Another rising star – who might be looking to make his first run for office – is another Trump administration alumni: Former Acting DNI and former Ambassador Ric Grenell (R-CA).
In the last two years of the Trump administration, Grenell rocketed to political stardom by being one of the fiercest defenders of President Trump and his agenda.
Grenell, a California native, is widely thought to be considering a run for Governor in the event of a successful effort to recall current California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA).
Indeed, Grenell in his speech at CPAC recently, came about as close as you can come to actually announcing his bid without formally doing so.
Sanders and Grenell are just two of the many rising stars in the America First movement.
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In the event that President Trump doesn’t opt for a re-match with Biden, Trump supporters and populist conservatives should rest easy knowing that even though we might not know what the 2024 Republican primary will look like, the America First bench is talented and deep.
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