Journalists tackle a political what-if: What might a second Donald Trump presidency look like?

Even before anyone has cast a vote in a 2024 presidential primary, the attention of many political journalists has shifted to Jan. 20, 2025.

There has been a flurry of recent stories about the implications of a potential second presidency for Donald Trump, and his team’s planning for Inauguration Day and beyond. Polls show his continued dominance over Republican rivals and the likelihood of a close General Election.

The New York Times reporting team of Charlie Savage, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman has been mining that topic since the summer, and last week wrote in depth about the former President’s authoritarian impulses, and the possibility of fewer checks on his power. On Sunday, they examined whether Trump would leave NATO.

A special issue of The Atlantic magazine released last week collected essays by 24 writers on how a Trump presidency would affect things like foreign policy, immigration, journalism and climate change. Editor Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that people should read every one, “though perhaps not in one sitting, for reasons of mental hygiene.”

Among several other pieces:

— The Washington Post outlined plans by Trump and allies to use the federal government to punish opponents, and Editor-at-large Robert Kagan suggested that a Trump dictatorship was “increasingly inevitable.”

— The Associated Press has written extensively about the implications of Trump’s campaign rhetoric. Also, detailed planning by conservative groups for a second Trump term was outlined by AP.

— Politico’s Jack Shafer wrote about Trump’s “recipe for a shockingly raw power grab.”

— Axios collected speculation on the possible staffing of a second Trump administration. Can you say Vice President Tucker Carlson?

Too much? Even Trump’s people prescribe caution.

The volume of stories had reached the point where the Trump campaign at the end of last week sent a memo calling on allies and former aides to cool it, saying messages about a potential second term from anyone but the former president and his team were “an unwelcomed distraction.”

“The stakes are high,” said David Halbfinger, politics editor at the Times. “We saw on Jan. 6 of 2021, when we cover politics, we don’t just cover elections. We cover democracy now. Everybody has to take their jobs seriously, and it’s good to see that everybody is.”

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