Ex-Presidential Campaign Strategist from GOP Claims Trump Holds Significantly Stronger Position Now Compared to 2016

In regards to the upcoming 2024 election, Steve Schmidt, a former GOP Presidential Campaign Strategist, has expressed his views on the increasing political influence of former President Donald Trump. On July 4, 2023, Schmidt asserted that Trump’s current status surpasses his position during the 2016 race.

“His position is much more dominant within the Republican party,” Schmidt said of Trump. He further added, “Trump’s control of the GOP is total. It’s not to say there aren’t outliers, but there is no real, organized, national resistance to Trump within the GOP of any consequence.”

According to an article by The Epoch Times, Mr. Dowd, who held the position of chief strategist for George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, provided an assessment of the current Republican presidential candidates during the “Lindsey Reiser Reports” program on MSNBC.

“Eight years ago, when Donald Trump first ran, Donald Trump was at 14 or 15 percent in the polls,” Mr. Dowd said. “Today, he’s at 50 or 60 percent in the polls. He’s in a much more dominant position—Donald Trump—than he was in 2015 and 2016 when he still won the nomination in this process.”

In an early stage of the election cycle, a recent poll by RealClearPolitics indicates that Trump is leading as the frontrunner with an estimated 52.4 percent of Republican primary voters supporting him, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has garnered support from 21.5% of voters.

The former campaign strategist emphasized the notable difference between Trump’s current position and his circumstances during the 2016 race.

Schmidt’s observations highlight Trump’s dominant position within the GOP and shed light on the evolving power dynamics within the party. The Republican landscape of 2023 exhibits a stronger influence from Trump compared to 2016, showcasing his increasing control over the GOP.

According to Schmidt, a significant contributing factor to Trump’s authority is his ability to shape the GOP’s narrative, effectively marginalizing dissenting members who oppose his vision. Schmidt remarked, “The politicians who are willing to speak out against him have been cast aside,” underscoring Trump’s influence on the party’s direction and messaging.

Ali Vitali, a Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News, noted that the expanding field of Republican presidential candidates could potentially benefit Mr. Trump.

“I think that the Trump campaign perspective frankly is the more the merrier,” Ms. Vitali said during the interview, adding that “the more people who are trying to counter Trump, the more ways the non-Trump vote gets split up.”

Mr. Dowd expressed his view that the Republican presidential primary is unfolding in a manner that positions Trump as the de facto “incumbent.”

Regarding Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Dowd commented:

“The problem for Ron DeSantis, I think, and anybody else running in this race, it’s really not about them, but will some external event happen? Something that was some legal cause or something else happens that gives them a window where they can actually succeed? Because without it, I don’t see how they do.”

Mr. Dowd, along with others, has observed that the numerous indictments against Trump have unexpectedly rallied support for him, a development that has surprised many Democratic National Committee (DNC) leaders.

Dowd pointed out that throughout the month of March, Trump maintained a lead of approximately 15 points over DeSantis in the RCP polling average. Following the Manhattan indictment, Trump’s lead began to widen in April.

Subsequently, when indictments were issued by a Florida Court in June, Trump experienced a second surge in both support and fundraising.

“As far as this joke of an indictment, it’s a horrible thing. It’s a horrible thing for this country,” Trump said at a June 10 rally following the federal indictment. “I mean, the only good thing about it is it’s driven my poll numbers way up. Can you believe it?”

Steve Cortes, formerly an advisor to Trump and currently a prominent spokesperson for the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC, shared a comparable evaluation, recognizing that Trump’s lead has grown following the recent indictments.

“We are still clearly down,” Cortes said. “We’re down double digits, and we have work to do.”