Trump Eclipses Obama's Popular Vote Record, Reinforcing Speculation of a 2024 Run if He Loses

Donald Trump has beaten Barack Obama's popular vote record set 12 years ago to win more votes than any presidential candidate in U.S. history, except for Joe Biden.

The president has picked up 69,538,777 votes at the time of reporting, according to the Associated Press, surpassing Obama's 69,498,516 votes in 2008. But Biden has managed to record even more, with a record-breaking 73,303,957 tallied for the former vice president as of 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Democrats largely cast the 2020 election as a referendum on Trump's first term, hammering him for mismanaging a pandemic that has killed more that 230,000 people and triggered the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

Additionally, Trump was impeached last year over allegations he tried to abuse power to force the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Biden, although he was acquitted in the Senate. Trump faced relentlessly negative media coverage of his character, conduct and policies throughout his term.

So hostile was the political, economic and media landscape that many forecasters and pundits talked of Trump being rejected in a landslide. The fact that Trump has managed to attract even more votes than he did in 2016 against such overwhelming odds will reinforce the case for another presidential run should he lose his battle to remain in the White House. Only one president has been elected to a second non-consecutive term: Grover Cleveland in 1893.

According to a recent poll, many Republicans would support Trump trying to win another term in 2024. The Washington Examiner/YouGov poll of 1,200 registered voters surveyed October 30 asked respondents what they would prefer Trump to do should he lose.

Across all those asked, the most popular choice was for him to "leave politics entirely," with 48 percent suggesting this.

However, among Republicans, the most popular answer was for Trump to stay in politics and run again for president in 2024, with 38 percent of those asked opting for that choice.

And Trump's former campaign adviser has suggested the president will run again in four years if he loses to Biden.

Bryan Lanza, who served as deputy communications director on Trump's 2016 campaign, said the president still enjoyed widespread support among Republicans and would encounter little opposition from within the party if he decided to run in 2024.

President Trump will remain a hero within the Republican electorate. The winner of the 2024 Republican presidential primary will either be President Trump or the candidate who most closely resembles him.
Sam Nunberg, Trump 2016 campaign strategist

"He has got the apparatus, he has got the support. If he were to lose a very tight election today, he can make the claim that it wasn't a fair and free election, the media interfered with their suppression polls, you've had the rules change, you've had ballots appear, and I think he can make a strong case to run again and I think the Republicans would step aside and let it happen," he said during an interview with the BBC.

Put to him that U.S. voters have not seen the end of "politician Trump," Lanza replied: "Correct."

"If anything is clear from the election results, it is that the president has a huge following, and he doesn't intend to exit the stage anytime soon," former Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona told the New York Times.

Trump's allies also might point to the closeness of the election, despite numerous polls pointing to Biden holding a strong lead, coupled with the president making gains in a number of demographics, as reason why he could still be competitive as a presidential contender in 2024.

Sam Nunberg, who was a strategist on Trump's 2016 campaign, told the New York Times, "President Trump will remain a hero within the Republican electorate. The winner of the 2024 Republican presidential primary will either be President Trump or the candidate who most closely resembles him."

According to Edison Research's exit poll, Trump's vote share went up with Black men and women, Latino men and women and white women. Latino voters helped Trump win Florida.

Turnout in the 2020 election was estimated to be the highest since 1900.

But despite more people voting for Trump in 2020 than Obama in 2008, he still is almost certain to lose the popular vote for the second election in a row. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million but still lost to Trump in the Electoral College. She received 48.2 percent of all votes cast compared to Trump's 46.1 percent. But the Electoral College votes went to Trump, 304 to Clinton's 227.

A Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote only once in the past eight elections, when in 2004 George W. Bush received 62,040,610 votes to John Kerry's 59,028,444 votes.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump addresses a rally in Florida. The President has beaten Obama's popular vote record which was the highest for 12 years until Joe Biden surpassed it on Wednesday. Getty