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The Republican Donor Class Is Looking for Alternatives to Trump

While Republican presidential candidates are wetting their pants or hiding under the table and Republican senators are nearly all silent, there is one key group of Republicans that is worried about the Trump indictment: the big Republican donors. Many of them worry that Donald Trump is toxic and Ron DeSantis is too polarizing to win a general election. They are actively looking for someone else. Big donor Bobbie Kilberg said that dozens of fundraisers had reached out to her asking what to do. Some are eager to help Chris Christie, but there are plenty of other contenders. If the big donors end up splitting and keeping half a dozen candidates alive, it will be "welcome to 2016" or "déjà vu all over again." Of course, if they could all agree on one candidate and pour tens of millions into his or her campaign, that could power the chosen one to become a real contender. So far there is no suggestion that they will all agree, though.

The problem is that even if plenty of big spenders have made it clear that they hate Trump, they don't agree on the alternative. The Club for Growth strongly opposes Trump, but hasn't said who it supports. Charles Koch also hates Trump but also hasn't said who he supports. A few big donors are on board with someone. Larry Ellison, who is worth $130 billion, has supported Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) in the past and is likely to do so again in 2024. Art Pope is backing Mike Pence, but wants to see if the former VP can get small donors behind him.

It is worth noting that candidates almost never drop out because they see they can't win. Their egos are all too big for that. They drop out because the money has dried up and to run a campaign you need money to pay staff, run ads, fly hither and yon, and operate offices. Most of the candidates can't self fund, but if some big donor keeps them afloat, they will just continue and the anti-Trump vote will be split. And as we have mentioned many times before, most Republican primaries are winner-take-all. If Trump can get 30% of the vote in each one, he can easily win the nomination against a crowded field. (V)

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