If Donald Trump cares about the future of the Republican Party, as well as his own legacy, he should pass the torch to Senator Tim Scott, the junior Senator from South Carolina. Despite Joe Biden’s terrible approval ratings, there are no indications that an electoral college map would move enough in the northeast and midwest swing states to reverse the outcome of 2020. *For the sake of the point of this column, I won’t get into the controversy regarding alleged voter fraud. While I realize that both sides of the controversy hold strong, passionate opinions, it’s safe (and logical) to assume that none of the judges involved in any of those appeals courts will decide to revisit any of the dismissed cases.
Rumored 2024 GOP Primary Candidates
Why Tim Scott? Let’s consider two other popular names in the party: Former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the UN after she won two terms as governor in South Carolina.
Mike Pence: A Lost Cause
From a practical perspective, Pence is the easiest nominee to cross off the list of serious contenders. Pence painted himself into a corner with his stance against Trump’s orders to attempt to block confirmation of the Electoral College votes. Prior to January 6, the best chance Pence had at a 2024 nomination was an endorsement from Trump, which would have separated him from any pack of competitors. Republicans who want to move on from Trump will obviously choose an alternative Republican candidate, and Pence’s decision on January 6, whether you agree with his stance or not, alienated himself from Trump’s base. The remaining potential base of support is far too small to win a party nomination.
Ron DeSantis: No Demographic Gains
Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida is admired by conservatives across the country, and his resume is among the most outstanding of any candidate, but the bulk of DeSantis’ most loyal supporters are also among the core base of Trump’s earliest supporters over the past five years. DeSantis may improve GOP support among suburban, college educated women, but there’s no compelling evidence that DeSantis would bring in sufficient new support to win over independent voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin.
Nikki Haley: Too Loyal Trump’s Past
Nikki Haley’s name is much more recognized across the country due to her role in Trump’s administration as U.N. Ambassador, but she also angered many of Trump’s most loyal supporters with some of her comments regarding several of Trump’s decisions before and after the 2020 election. Conversely, many establishment Republicans view Haley as too loyal to Trump, but Tim Scott was never a part of the administration, so he avoided angering members of those same wings of the party.
Tim Scott’s Conservative Credentials
Tim Scott’s voting record in the Senate earned him a 94% rating for the current session and he enjoys an 84% approval since he started in 2013 (Three points higher than the average Republican senator score.) He’s been in the Senate long enough to tout his record and experience. He spearheaded efforts to force Democrats to pass a bipartisan bill that sought reforms for law enforcement, and exposed Sen. Chuck Schumer for backing out of the deal.
Scott’s signature legislation involved the creation of economic opportunity zones as part of the 2017 tax reform package, which helped private investors bring billions of dollars to distressed communities across the country. More recently he voted against Biden’s large spending bills such as the American Rescue Plan, and he co-sponsored the Accelerate Long-term Investment Growth Now (ALIGN) Act, introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), would make permanent one of the most pro-American worker, pro-growth policies contained in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Broader Appeal to Minority Voters
Undoubtedly, nominating Tim Scott would help Trump’s approval legacy with minorities, while improving the party’s overall standing and appeal. Yes, it’s true that a slightly larger share of blacks and hispanics supported Trump than John McCain and Mitt Romney, but the vast majority of minority voters disapproved of Trump’s performance and behavior as President. One of the most unique aspects of Scott’s background is that he has firsthand experience with a police officer who profiled him, yet he didn’t allow his anecdotal evidence to alter his perspective that the majority of law enforcement officers aren’t racists.
A GOP nomination of Scott would disarm Democrats from one of their mosts reliable attacks: For decades, Democrats have portrayed Republicans as a party that panders to elderly, wealthy white male voters. Tim Scott can’t be attacked as another out of touch, rich white male candidate. Scott’s ascension to the U.S. Senate is a microcosm of the American dream.
Scott grew up in a poor, single-parent household in South Carolina, where he initially struggled with academics. Despite difficult circumstances, Scott improved as a student and earned a partial football scholarship to play at Presbyterian College from 1983-1984. Ultimately, Scott graduated from Charleston Southern University and built his own successful small business.
Scott’s political career path included terms in the Charleston County Council, the South Carolina House of Representatives, and the US House before he was elected as a Senator in 2013.
The Overlooked Factor: Younger Voters Outnumbering Boomers
The end of Baby Boomer-dominated voting and the era of younger voters.
Trump’s top supporters, members of the baby boomer generation are dying by the thousands each day, all while Democrats inherit new young voters every day. The average is 5,300 baby boomers dying each day. There will be approximately 7.7 million fewer baby boomers by 2024, and 18 million fewer since 2016…that’s a landslide difference when you consider that Millennials and Generation Z will constitute the largest election-day active voting block.
Even when Trump’s approval rating was at its highest levels, his support among voters under the age of 40 typically ranged between 12 to 15 points lower than voters over the age of 40. Tim Scott, a member of Generation X, would be 58 years old in November of 2024, but will be decades younger than Joe Biden. If you don’t believe in the power of energized young voters, just recall the 2008 and 2012 election, when a comparatively young Obama dominated the youth vote.