GOP Primaries Prove Trump Has Thoroughly Dominated the Party

Donald Trump Holds First Rally Of 2024 Presidential Campaign

The terrible colossus of the GOP.
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Republican presidential nominating contest officially ended on June 4 with primaries in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota (Democrats have two more caucuses left on June 8 in Guam and the Virgin Islands). If you missed this landmark, it’s probably because Donald Trump (and, for that matter, Joe Biden) clinched the nomination back on March 12, six days after the 45th president’s last rival of any consequence, Nikki Haley, dropped out of the race.

Now, Trump must await an official coronation in Milwaukee when the Republican National Convention assembles on July 15. At that point, he will become the fifth person to receive at least three major-party presidential nominations (his predecessors are Grover Cleveland, William Jennings Bryan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon). He’s the first to achieve this distinction since the advent of near-universal primaries (completed in 1976) ended the era of nominations dominated by party elites.

While there may never be anything to match the sheer unlikeliness of Trump’s first nomination in 2016, his 2024 comeback was pretty impressive as well. Facing 11 opponents, including a former vice-president, two sitting governors, three former governors, and a U.S. Senator, Trump won 55 contests (losing only in D.C. and Vermont) and 95 percent of the delegates. On March 5, Super Tuesday, when the last contested primaries were held, Trump won 15 out of 16 and secured over 70 percent of the vote in ten. The rest of the way, despite facing a number of primaries in which Democrats could participate, his lowest percentage was the 76 percent he won in Kansas.

For what it’s worth, Trump’s primary percentages in the 2024 general-election battleground states were as follows (in descending order): 99 percent in Nevada (a caucus), 85 percent in Georgia, 83 percent in Pennsylvania, 79 percent in Arizona and Wisconsin, 74 percent in North Carolina, and 68 percent in Michigan.

In the end, according to my back-of-the-envelope calculation, Trump won 16,834,341 votes out of 22,091,929 cast in 2024 primaries and caucuses, or 76 percent of the total. So after what turned out to be a bit of a snoozer of a nomination contest, he’s already a little over a fourth of the way to the 62 million votes he won in his successful 2016 general-election contest, and that’s after two impeachments and 34 criminal counts. If there remain any doubts that he is the dominant leader of a Republican Party that initially resisted him strongly, the 2024 primaries should lay them to rest. And if you have any questions about that proposition, ask former Trump rivals Marco Rubio, Doug Burgum, and Tim Scott, who will say or do just about anything in their quest to become his new running mate and political heir apparent.

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