Opinion Will Trump run for president again? 12 of our columnists have the answer.

(Sergio Peçanha/The Washington Post)
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The rumors are ricocheting in every direction: Yes way. No way. Now. Never. (Not to mention the healthy contingent of “no clue.”)

The subject? Whether Donald Trump will run for president again in 2024.

Barring a crystal ball, there’s only one way to find out the former guy’s plans for sure. So we again assembled our crack team of Post Pundit Power Rankers and plumbed their ultimate, infallible wisdom for an answer to the question: Will Trump run?

Molly Roberts: YES.

He hated the job, but he loved the attention. The only way Trump can stop people from saying he’s a loser is to win again — and while he could just claim credit for the victory of someone he anoints, could he really bear the spotlight shining on anyone except him? Besides, the list of alternatives is slim enough that some conservatives may think the former commander in chief is their best shot. With enough people telling him that he alone can fix it, Trump and his ego might not be able to resist.

Eugene Robinson: NO.

Trump will pretend to run, and he might even at some point announce that he’s running. But the question is whether he will actually run for president again, and I think not. He won’t risk losing yet again, and besides, being a former president is less hassle and more fun than actually having to pretend to listen to all the boring officials and members of Congress and generals with all their uninspiring issues. Emperor in exile is a role that suits Trump, and he still gets to run the Republican Party and make supplicants abase themselves for his amusement.

Gary Abernathy: YES.

Considering the combination of GOP support at both the grass-roots and institutional levels, the fundraising machine at his fingertips and an undiminished ego, it’s nearly impossible to envision a scenario in which Trump chooses not to run again, barring legal or health reasons. He knows he would almost certainly win his party’s nomination, and he is probably just as convinced he could win the November election despite all naysayers — especially considering he already did it once.

Karen Tumulty: YES.

Predicting what Trump will do is always a dicey proposition. But here goes: I think he will run so long as:

  1. He’s physically able
  2. He is convinced he can win.

And don’t expect him to cast any doubt on his desire to do so in the meantime. He will continue to dangle the prospect of running because he knows the minute he doesn’t, he becomes irrelevant — a black hole into which he would never voluntarily toss himself.

James Hohmann: NO.

Trump cannot lose again if he doesn’t run. My guess is he waits until the last possible moment — maybe the day of the filing deadline for the Iowa caucuses — to announce he’s not going to do it. He won’t announce he’s bowing out early because he knows that makes him a lame duck. He’ll slow play it to see who runs and what they say about him, but a lot of Republicans won’t wait on him. Take this with a grain of salt, though: I was wrong in predicting that Trump wouldn’t seek the presidency in 2016 after I went to New Hampshire in 2011 to cover that presidential flirtation.

Megan McArdle: YES.

As of now, I think Trump will run unless force majeure intervenes to stop him — an illness, an indictment. There’s a small chance the Jan. 6 hearings produce some political shift that makes it obvious (even to him) that he’d lose a second go-round. But otherwise, it’s hard for me to imagine his ego will let him step aside.

Jonathan Capehart: NO.

Trump won’t run again. Yes, the Queens, N.Y.,-born builder is driven by spite and vengeance, and snatching the job back from President Biden would be enticing. But Trump would be required to work hard to win a job he actually hated. (Well, he hated everything about the job except certain ceremonial functions and the swank public housing and transportation that came with the gig.) Instead, during his four years in the White House, Trump behaved more like a retiree who golfed and yelled at his TV all day. He’ll keep doing the same — from Mar-a-Lago.

Christine Emba: YES.

Will he run? How could he resist? Trump learned the first time around that a presidential run was a perfect moneymaking opportunity. The second lap will open the spigot again, plus give him the opportunity to bask in the admiration of his fans and the attention of his foes. Unfortunately, it’s all downside for the rest of us.

Jennifer Rubin: YES.

Trump will announce his run if for no other reasons than that he craves the limelight and thinks it will be harder for authorities to prosecute an active candidate. That does not mean that when 2024 rolls around, he’ll still be in the race and on the ballot. By then, health or legal complications and fear of losing might cause him to reconsider.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: NO.

But what do I know? I’ve been plenty wrong on Trump before. What I have confidence in is his selfishness. I think he will be looking at a very tough path in 2024 and won’t want the hassle. He won’t tell us this anytime soon, because he wants to hang around so he can keep raising money. One of the many ways I could be wrong: If he announces he’s running just to make a federal indictment of him look more “political.” But in the end, I just don’t think he likes the work of being president.

Hugh Hewitt: YES.

I think Trump will run again, time and tides notwithstanding. Competitors compete. Unless a health issue intervenes between now and the Iowa caucuses, I and everyone I speak to who is on the GOP side of the aisle think he will try for the White House again.

Greg Sargent: NO.

What Trump’s embrace of the “big lie” shows above all else is how much he hates to lose. Trump not only knows he lost in 2020; he also knows he won in 2016 only because of a string of flukes — he faced an unexpectedly weak candidate after their party had held the White House for two terms. Risking a second loss to Biden is unthinkable: It would confirm his decisive rejection by the public. And Trump would be even less likely to defeat a fresh face should Biden decline to run. He knows that, too.

***

There you have it! A decisive “maybe”! (Pundit’s secret: You can never be wrong if your answer is “maybe.”) At seven yeses to five noes on Trump running, it seems 2020 2.0 is still very up in the air.

Then again, Greg Sargent’s answer raises a great question: How could it be a 2020 redux if Biden decides not to run? Will he?

You’ll just have to tune in next week to find out.

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