To a committed opponent of Donald Trump, the PredictIt betting odds that make the former president the favorite to win the 2024 Republican nomination feel as sensible as a poll naming creamy vanilla ’n calves’ liver cones as America’s favorite frozen treat.
But Trump is the runaway favorite in the betting pools, in which the share prices of all offered outcomes add up to the $1 per share the winner of each wager is awarded. Shares in bets that Trump would get the GOP nod were worth 24 cents Tuesday, dwarfing those of runners-up Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both at 13 cents a share. Former Vice President Mike Pence is at 8 cents a share, which could leave him feeling pretty spicy until he realizes Texas senator and Cancun refugee Ted Cruz is only a penny behind at 7 cents.
For Pence, that’s like being slightly more popular than potholes.
And a quick glance at the Democratic betting favorites for 2024 only increases the surrealism, because President Joe Biden is only the second choice, at 34 cents. The top option is Vice President Kamala Harris, at a whopping 39 cents.
Since Trump lost the election in November, it’s likely that he will be the 2024 nominee as long as he is physically and legally able to run. And it’s likely that he’ll be physically and legally able to run.
Will he be healthy enough? Probably. Trump is like one of those energy-innovation power plants that burns garbage and used cooking oil to produce a smooth power supply. Seriously, his beloved diet of fast-food burgers, fried chicken and chain pizza is, essentially, garbage and used cooking oil.
Yet Trump’s energy and vigor never waver.
And legally, it’s probably going to be a lot harder to convict Trump of a crime of any kind than Democrats and establishment Republicans praying for successful prosecutions care to admit. The crimes Trump could be charged with might be kind of squishy, with intent hard to prove and "expert" witnesses testifying Trump was within his rights and did no wrong. But the biggest obstacle to convictions is the need for a unanimous jury vote to get to guilty.
If Trump’s attorneys can seat one MAGA juror in any trial he faces, that could translate into acquittal in court just like it did in the Senate.
So what are his odds of recapturing the White House?
Not bad, really. Biden must contend with COVID-19 and its implications while stuck with a GOP that won’t stop trying to trip him up. The stock market could suffer, inflation could climb, interest rates will likely increase, and he must try to fix everything Trump ignored or worsened: the environment, infrastructure, Social Security and Medicare funding, the deficit, international relations, and anything else his detractors blame him for.
Trump is not retired. He’s got $105 million in his PAC account. And Sunday he’s expected to call himself the "presumptive 2024 nominee" in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida.
Trump was never the wave that capsized our nation: he is the surfer who saw how to ride that huge swell of tribalism, anger and disenfranchisement.
In 2016, the wave was big enough to land him his prize. In 2020, it was not.
And in 2024? If he can run, he will. If he runs, he will likely be the GOP nominee. And if he’s the GOP nominee, he’ll have a puncher’s chance of winning back the White House.
Lane Filler is a member of Newsday's editorial board.