Former President Donald Trump begins the new year as hands down the most popular and influential politician in the GOP.
With just over 10 months to go until the next race for the White House to begin, Trump is still the overwhelming front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
The most recent public opinion numbers come from a Reuters/Ipsos national poll conducted in mid-December. Fifty-four percent of Republicans questioned in the survey said they’d back the former president as their party’s standard-bearer in 2024.
Two other potential candidates– Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence – were a distant second and third at 11% and 8% support.
Trump spent 2021 hinting at another White House run.
"I am certainly thinking about it," he said in a November interview.
"I think a lot of people will be very happy, frankly, with the decision," Trump said, hinting that a decision would be announced after the 2022 midterm elections.
The Reuters/Ipsos survey is in line with other public opinion surveys of the 2024 GOP nomination race. An average of all the most recent national polls puts Trump at 52% support, a clear frontrunner ahead of the other possible Republican White House hopefuls.
Another early 2024 barometer is fundraising, where Trump was a powerhouse in 2021.
The former president’s three main political fundraising committees reported hauling in a combined $82 million during the first six months of 2021, with over $100 million cash on hand as of the end of July, which was the most recent filing period for the groups. Driving much of the fundraising are Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" and "stolen."
Trump’s fundraising, impressive poll numbers, clout over his party, and repeated hints have not discouraged other potential GOP White House hopefuls from visiting the states that kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.
"Everybody understands that the president is very seriously looking at 2024," longtime Republican consultant John Brabender, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns, recently said. "I think the majority of candidates would be deferential to Trump if he decides to run in 2024, but what they don’t want to do is find themselves in a situation that if Trump decides he’s not running, then they've wasted a lot of time."
Thursday will mark one year since the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists and other supporters of Trump, who tried to disrupt congressional certification of now President Biden's Electoral College victory over Trump in the 2020 election.
Trump announced two weeks ago that he would hold a news conference at his South Florida resort and residence on the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol.
"I will be having a news conference on January 6th at Mar-a-Lago," he said in a statement released by Save America, one of his political committees.
In announcing his news conference, Trump repeated his claims, once again describing his electoral defeat as "the rigged Presidential Election of 2020" and that "the insurrection took place on November 3rd."
In the weeks after the 2020 election, dozens of legal challenges by the then-president and his allies were shot down in the half dozen states where Biden narrowly edged Trump to secure a convincing Electoral College victory. And then-Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had not seen fraud on the kind of scale that could flip the election.
The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol came shortly after Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters he addressed at a rally near the White House to march to the Capitol and show strength in protesting the certification of the election by Congress. Five people – four protesters and a Capitol Police officer – died in, or after, the riot.
Following the attack, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting the riot. Ten House Republicans joined the majority Democrats in voting to impeach the then-president.
Trump refused to concede the election and became the first president in a century and a half to miss the inauguration of his successor.
Only weeks later, he was acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial. Seven Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in voting to convict Trump, 10 votes shy of the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution.
The former president will hold his first campaign-style rally of 2022 in the key state of Arizona.
Trump announced on Thursday that his event will be held in Florence, Arizona. The rally will be the first hosted by Trump since his large rally in Iowa in early October.
Biden took Trump by a razor-thin margin in Arizona, becoming the first Democrat in nearly a quarter-century to carry the state in a presidential election.