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The 2024 Buzz Has Started— for a Surprising Name

Newser — John Johnson

The 2020 election is still months away, but it's evidently not too early to start the speculation about 2024. And in this case, the speculation centers on Tucker Carlson of Fox News, who is the subject of multiple stories—most notably at Politico and Business Insider—that explain why he makes sense as the GOP candidate in the next election.

Coverage:

  • The buzz: A story by Alex Thompson at Politico says party strategists are "buzzing" about the 51-year-old Carlson as a 2024 candidate, and a consensus is emerging that he would be an immediate frontrunner after the 2020 dust clears.

“He’s a talented communicator with a massive platform. I think if he runs he’d be formidable,” says Luke Thompson, a strategist who worked for Jeb Bush’s 2016 super PAC.

In all, 16 party bigwigs interviewed voice the same sentiment.

  • Ditto: Tom LoBianco at Business Insider reports that "a small group of New York donors also began talking at the start of June about running him for president in 2024." He quotes conservative activist Jon Schweppe to explain the momentum: Carlson is "taking a moment when the GOP is lacking vision or any sort of moral clarity—and he's providing it," says Schweppe.

"Naturally, his following is growing. It's unlike anything I've ever seen. I hope the president is watching."

  • The ideology: Think Trumpism, but without President Trump himself.

Politico's Thompson describes it as "a blend of anti-immigrant nationalism, economic populism and America First isolationism that he articulates unapologetically and with some snark." And Carlson goes after the president publicly when he thinks Trump isn't adhering to the vision.

  • The audience: Big, and growing.

As Poynter notes, the latest TV ratings show that Carlson didn't just lead all shows in the quarter, his Tucker Carlson Tonight "had the best viewership in the history of cable news." Carlson drew a staggering 4.33 million viewers in the quarter, and that's despite big-name advertiser boycotts over Carlson's comments on the George Floyd protests.

An example: "This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through," Carlson said. "But it is definitely not about black lives and remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will." The Poynter piece also takes note of Carlson's "flip-flopping" on the coronavirus response during this ratings period.

  • The clout: In a story about Trump at Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman reports that the president called Carlson late last week amid sinking polls and generally bad news and said: "What do I do? What do I do?" And the analyses above suggest that Carlson's growing audience shows that more and more people are looking to him for a sense of where the party is headed.

A piece at OutKick by Bobby Burack notes that Carlson's audience is growing among all age groups.

  • Will he? Carlson "has not seriously broached" the idea of running, writes LoBianco, citing several sources.

And Carlson has publicly dissed the idea of running for office previously. But some think he appears to be positioning himself for a run, as when he formally cut ties with the conservative Daily Caller, which he started.

Yes, this talk of a 2024 candidacy may be "pure fantasy," writes Seth Cohen at Forbes. "But if we have learned anything over the past several years, it is that, for better or for worse, sometimes television can become reality." Carlson currently "has the ability to shift the perception of millions of Americans every day," he notes.

"The question is, in four years, would he want to move from being the shaper of that reality to the leader of it?"

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This article originally appeared on Newser: The 2024 Buzz Has Started— for a Surprising Name