Years ago, in the summer of 2016, I had just co-created a small business at Condé Nast called The Hive, which attempted to turbocharge Vanity Fair
’s ambitions in the digital age and direct-to-consumer era. The success of any new venture requires more than a modicum of luck, and we’d enjoyed our fair amount of good fortune and lucky breaks, to be sure. Chief among them, of course, was launching into the most frenetic news cycle in recent cultural history: Elizabeth Holmes
, Syria, Brexit, and, of course, the unfolding presidential election, namely the Trump
Like most people of my ilk, a coastal borderline-millennial from Manhattan, I’d always written off the Trump phenomenon as an absurdist carny act engineered by second-tier operatives and hangers on, thirsty family members, and the limitless ego of the principal, himself. And yet, as we all well know, Trump’s appeal never waned that summer, despite his many self-inflicted crises. Nevertheless, through it all, I assumed we were living through a strange moment that would inevitably become a footnote in the preamble of Hillary Clinton’s hypothetical presidential memoir. At least I did until the day that Tina Nguyen, a young political reporter at The Hive, walked into my office and analytically and calmly laid out the cogent argument for why Trump would win the general election.
I was stupefied, and yet I believed every word. Tina, after all, had an utterly unique grasp on the new D.N.A. that was coursing into the mainstream Republican party—a streak that we once called the alt-right and now familiarly understand as MAGA. Tina had attended Claremont, worked under Tucker Carlson briefly at The Daily Caller, and, as a consequence, was fully sourced in the movement. I quickly came to recognize that she saw around corners on the right.
So that’s why I was so excited to read Tina’s fantastic piece on the poorly unfolding Trump re-election effort, which Puck published earlier this week. In Has Trump Already Lost ’24, Tina captured the data points beyond his lethargic campaign and Nick Fuentes dinner. As she writes, the Club for Growth released a poll just before Trump’s ’24 announcement projecting that he would lose to DeSantis in Iowa, New Hampshire, Georgia and Florida. In Pennsylvania, the conservative Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs found that Republicans preferred DeSantis to Trump, 45 to 40, in a hypothetical matchup. “This poll shows what’s become abundantly clear in the past two years,” the group’s C.E.O., Matt Brouillette, said in a public statement. “It’s time to move on from Trump.”
As one conservative activist told Tina: “People in the past would have kept [their discontent with Trump] to themselves, because they didn’t want to be seen as being disloyal, or that they didn’t want to be seen particularly by Trump as being disloyal. Now, they don’t care. Because now their attitude is, it’s over. There’s no magical way Trump is suddenly going to convince the voters that he’s lost in at least three elections, that he’s their guy.”
People have been discounting Trump for years, but I trust Tina’s track record on this subject. Her insight and access to the real conversation inside the party have outpaced her peers. If you want a view of where this race is headed, I suggest taking a few minutes to enjoy her piece this weekend. It’s precisely the sort of peerless insider work you can only find at Puck.
Have a great weekend,