NEW YORK – As he considers another White House run, polls show former President Donald Trump is the most popular figure in the Republican Party. But it wasn’t always that way.
Competing at one point against a dozen rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, Trump won only about a third of the vote in key early states. He even lost the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the nomination process.
But he was able to prevail nonetheless because those in the party who opposed his brand of divisive politics were never able to coalesce around a single rival to confront him. And with Trump mulling another White House bid as soon as this summer, the same dynamic could repeat.
With a growing list of candidates gearing up for their own presidential runs, even a Trump diminished by two impeachments and mounting legal vulnerabilities could hold a commanding position in a fractured,…