Donald Trump’s Republican Primary Challengers Could Spell Doom For His Re-Election, Some Analysts Say

Historically, incumbent presidents who faced primary challenges within their own party haven't fared well in the subsequent general election.

Donald Trump attends the first working session of the G7 Summit on August 25, 2019 in Biarritz, France
Jeff J Mitchell - Pool / Getty Images

Historically, incumbent presidents who faced primary challenges within their own party haven't fared well in the subsequent general election.

President Donald Trump is facing a slew of potential challengers for the Republican Party’s nomination for president in the 2020 primary election. Although he will almost certainly be nominated to run again as the GOP’s nominee in the 2020 election, Yahoo News reports, the fact that so many Republicans are challenging him could bode ill for his re-election chances in 2020.

Who Is Challenging Trump For The 2020 GOP Nomination?

As of this writing, two Republicans have officially announced that they are challenging Trump for the nomination. On Monday, former Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh announced that he will be seeking to wrangle the Republican Party’s nomination away from Trump. He’s joined by former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who months ago announced his intention to challenge Trump for the 2020 nomination as well.

Other Republicans have expressed interest in challenging Trump in 2020 as well. Mark Sanford, a former congressman and governor of South Carolina, said he’s considering challenging Trump. Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and ex-Ohio Gov. John Kasich are also rumored to be considering runs.

How Likely Is The Republican Party To Give The Nomination To Someone Other Than Trump?

Unlikely in the extreme. The decision to appoint the party’s candidate is made by the party’s members, who overwhelmingly support him, according to recent polling data.

What Do These Primary Challenges Mean For The General Election?

That’s where things get tricky. Although it’s extremely unlikely that anyone other than Donald Trump will challenge the eventual Democrat nominee in November 2020, the fact that Trump has any challengers at all from within his own party bodes poorly for his re-election chances. At least, according to some analyses.

For example, Yahoo News writer Mike Bebernes points out that, historically, incumbent presidents who have faced significant challenges from within their own party haven’t fared well in the subsequent general election.

“Every sitting president in recent American history who has faced a serious primary fight has ultimately lost his reelection bid. Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were all defeated in the general election after defeating challengers from within their own party.”

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It’s a sentiment echoed by David Drucker of Fox News.

“Having to deal with a primary challenge isn’t going to topple you from the party, but could create poor conditions for you in a general election,” he says.

Similarly, CNN’s Dean Obeidallah opines that Trump’s Republican challengers might awaken Republican voters who aren’t necessarily onboard with Trump.

How Is Trump Doing In National Election Polls?

Not well, according to The Washington Post. The most recent polls pitting Trump against the five highest-polling Democratic candidates have him losing by between nine and 16 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.