Douglas Murray has narrated this article for you to listen to.
Well that’s that. It now looks certain that Donald J. Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for president this year. At the time of writing, Nikki Haley is still hanging on in the primaries, but the contest is essentially over. Even if Haley stayed around and hoovered up the votes of every other Republican candidate who has dropped out, she still wouldn’t arrive at the dominant position Trump has occupied since the start of the race.
This will be a cause for either alarm or rejoicing. What nobody should be is surprised. Ever since the race for the 2024 nomination started, it has all been about the man who wasn’t there. Trump chose not to turn up to any of the primary debates, sitting them out like a lion allowing the minions to pick away at a carcass he had already feasted on. What would it have availed him to mix with the single-digit scavengers?
He needn’t have worried anyway. The only candidate who ever actually pointed themselves straight at Trump was Chris Christie, who is a superb debater but never managed to break through. Except for Vivek Ramaswamy, who paid frequent and loud homage to the Don, the rest tried to duck the question of the absentee leader.
In retrospect, that may not have been the best move. During the campaign I asked one Republican whether anyone else might join Christie in actually running at Trump and was told it would only really make sense for Ron DeSantis. Why? ‘Because nothing else is working for him,’ was the reply.
When he started off, DeSantis seemed like he had a genuine chance of breaking through.