For the class of people rooting for a singular Trump rival to emerge in the G.O.P. primary—Republican donors, NeverTrumpers, some Democrats—time is running out. The Iowa caucuses are only four months away. And the Republican who was hyped as Trump’s toughest opponent, Ron DeSantis, is currently trailing Trump by some 40 points nationally and around 20 points in Iowa.
DeSantis is still better positioned than his rivals in terms of money, fame, and organization, at least in Iowa. Unlike everyone else in the race, he has both MAGA credibility and establishment support, which seems like the only cocktail that can sideline Trump. But DeSantis has only a faint whiff of the support he had earlier this year, and he could very well be lapped in the coming months by another workhorse rival, like Vivek Ramaswamy or Nikki Haley, who trail him by only a few points. But the prospect of any of them overtaking Trump in the next few months? It’s wishcasting. With Labor Day now behind us, it’s time for everyone involved in the Republican presidential primary complex to admit that this is simply not a two-person race. Right now, it’s just Trump swatting away flies.
Still, those rooting against Trump continue to cite one lonely analogy that supposedly proves the G.O.P. race isn’t quite over: Barack Obama’s come-from-behind victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Primary. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu was the latest big G.O.P. name to do so, in an interview last week with CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, who asked him if the Republican primary was a fait accompli. “Of course not,” the media-thirsty Sununu responded. “Was it over when Clinton was leading Obama by 20 points at this point back in 2008? When no one could beat the Clinton machine? No, not at all.”