Following the January 6th insurrection and Donald Trump's second impeachment, speculation mounted that he would be barred from running for public office again. That seems incredibly unlikely, with the former president rated 97% likely to avoid conviction according to our Senate Trial market.
Trump favourite to lead GOP again in 2024
Assuming that rating is vindicated, Trump will continue to loom large over US politics and the 2024 betting. At this early stage, he's rated 8% likely to be re-elected at odds of 12.011/1 and 6.611/2 (17%) to be the Republican Nominee.
No doubt he still holds extraordinary sway over his party. That GOP Senators are running a mile from conviction, despite their own lives being endangered during the insurrection, is testament to that. Only 13% of Republican voters supported impeachment. Around half believe his lies that the election was rigged.
Trump has created an 'Office for the Former President', that sounds awfully like a campaign machine. He does not intend to leave politics quietly and it will remain difficult for rival Republicans to be heard above him, take different positions or risk his wrath. Arch-critic Joe Walsh - once a former Tea Party and enthusiastic Trump supporter - does not see much potential for dissidents to return.
Right now, that seems unarguable but there is always a danger in political betting to assume nothing will change. Trump's current odds are plenty short enough, 45 months out. An awful lot will happen during that time and there's no reason to think any of it will work to his advantage.
Trump will never restore media profile
Remember where Trump's power came from. Mainstream and social media. Not just Fox News. CNN gave him hundreds of millions of free airtime in 2016. The Apprentice was an NBC show. Twitter gave him a bully pulpit and platform to shape what journalists reported. Every tweet was a story in its own right.
All that is gone and will never be rebuilt. He may well create a TV project but its purpose will be to monetize and further radicalise his followers. He's no likelier to pivot to the centre, or reach out to opponents than in office.
Legal and financial woes will weigh him down
Meanwhile politics will go on and his party will take positions. Potential candidates will emerge. Trump's world though will be one long stream of court cases. Potential charges or legal peril stacked up during his time in office. Particularly regarding his finances but also sexual assault claims.
He will be 78 in 2024. True, Joe Biden is 77. Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi even older. Age isn't a barrier in US politics. But having watched him on a loop for five years, and re-watched old footage, I'm in no doubt he deteriorated mentally in office. There was a glint in his eye during that 2016 campaign that had long gone by 2019.
If you want to back Trump, it makes better sense to play the nomination market at half the presidential odds. For my money, he would start a big outsider against any Democrat. He doesn't convert voters.
But my advice is to look for alternatives at big odds.
The winner might not even be in the market yet.
Haley rated next best and respected
Nikki Haley is second favourite but her chance is hardly understated at 16.5 and 9.08/1 for those respective markets. I've long said the GOP should pick her but, if they've become extreme enough to pick QAnon candidates, the former South Carolina Governor and US Ambassador to the UN is probably too mainstream. Too establishment.
Mike Pence makes no appeal whatsoever at 25.024/1 and 13.5. The people who wanted him hung won't back him. Nor will those who blame him for enabling the situation. He was picked as a safe, 'yes man'. Precisely because he wasn't leadership material.
Cruz and Paul likely to run again
From the insurrectionist wing, it is hard to get away from Ted Cruz at 55.054/1 and 24.023/1. Still only 50 years old, the 2016 GOP runner-up will probably stand for president again and again. Nobody on the far-right in Congress has a bigger profile.
Another former leadership rival who I expect to run again is Rand Paul. His father Ron ran in 2008 and 2012, finishing second to Mitt Romney on the latter occasion. Back in 2016, Rand was a no-hoper due to his anti-US foreign policy stances. Indeed without those positions, his father may have won. Maybe the party is different now. Trump normalised anti-NATO, isolationist, pro-Russian foreign policy.
Nominee may well not be a politician
There is definitely mileage in looking beyond Congress. The Trump era proved Republicans prefer outsiders and are generally very hostile to Congress. His children seem to fancy their chances of political success. Don Jnr is a 150.0149/1 chance for the presidency, 75.074/1 for the nomination. Ivanka much shorter at 36.035/1 and 80.079/1.
I can't have any of that delusion. Trump was unique and any direct imitation will fail.
What might work is the same white nationalist, anti-liberal, disinformation campaign, from another famous person outside politics.
There will doubtless be numerous kites flown. I hear nothing yet about Tucker Carlson, but he is the one who should scare anti-Trumpers. The Fox News host knows his audience inside out and communicates with them way more effectively than any politician. He's also much cleverer than Trump and won't commit the same constant mistakes. Watch this space.
Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.