Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump AFP

As the rematch between President Biden and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump continues to be considered an extremely tight race, one fear looms large among voters— if Trump returns to the White House, he'll seek to never leave.

The David Binder Research group first noticed this fear when conducting a focus group on people who had voted for Biden in 2020 but considered switching to the other side in 2024.

"We were talking to Latino men and Asian American-Pacific Islander women in battleground states," said Seiji Carpenter, vice president of David Binder Research. "And they went straight to the issue of, what if Trump won't give up power?"

Republican strategists have been conveyed the same fear, Bloomberg reports. "It's showing up in our focus groups," said Sarah Longwell, CEO of Longwell Partners and publisher of the conservative website the Bulwark.

Bloomberg credits Trump's own provocations as the driving factor for this.

One example that seems to be backing up these concerns is the riot on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump supporters, with his encouragement, tried to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election to keep in power. Similarly, in a 2022 social media post, Trump called to "terminate" parts of the Constitution in response to the election fraud he falsely asserted had taken place in 2020 and prevented him from winning a second term in office.

Last December, Fox News host Sean Hannity invited Trump to tamp down voter concerns about his use of authoritarian rhetoric. Instead, the former president insisted he would be a "dictator" only on "Day 1" of his presidency. But in a recent Time interview, he said that comment was made "in jest."

Despite the retraction, many uncommitted voters don't perceive his language to be ironic, nor do they view a potential power grab as a joke, Bloomberg explained.

"When we ask about his record on democracy, there's a lot of general concern— even among Republicans— about what a second Trump term might be like," said Bryan Bennett, a pollster with Navigator Research, a Democratic-aligned firm. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 21% of independent voters and 8% of Republicans indicated that "preserving democracy in the United States" was the most critical issue facing the country.

But, is changing the 22nd Amendment, which limits presidents to only 2 terms, actually possible? It is, but it would be extremely difficult, Bloomberg argues.

To do so, it would require a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate or a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the state legislature, after which any amendment would need to be ratified by three-quarters of the state.

Because of this, even Trump's most ardent supporters don't view this scenario as realistic.

"It's 100% about trolling liberals," former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon says. "This would be our last free and fair election."

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