IT was a late night for a man who likes to be in bed by 6.30pm with a cheeseburger in one hand and the remote control in the other. Or so legend has it. Perhaps that explains Donald Trump’s less than sparkling delivery when spilling the worst kept secret in the world – he wants to run for the presidency again in 2024.

One observer, borrowing the insult from Mr Trump, called him “low energy”, others went straight for sleepy, rambling, and confused. No one went as far as saying he was as bad as Joe Biden, but it can only be a matter of time.

There was certainly love for “The Donald” in the room when he made his announcement, which was just as well given the hostility outside. The most divisive President in memory is now causing fights within the movement that carried him to the White House in 2016. Who could have predicted that?

It was not supposed to be like this. When Mr Trump made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday night he was meant to be playing the role of victor-in-chief, the driving force behind a red wave of Republican triumphs.

Instead, the candidates he backed in a series of must win, high-profile contests turned out to be losers. Their central message, that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Mr Trump, was rejected and therefore, one might deduce, he was rejected. Another person might have slipped away quietly to reflect on this, played a round or 300 of golf till memories faded, but that is not and never will be Mr Trump’s style. One would say he is back, ready for the fray, except he has never been away.

His determination to plough ahead with a White House run is as audacious as it is predictable. Consider the forces ranged against him, starting with the party elite. Once deemed a necessary evil, an election winner, he now looks to them more like a liability. Mr Trump won’t worry about that. The original disruptor thrives on posing as an outsider.

He should, however, be more concerned at the way his friends in the Murdoch-led media are rushing to disown him. The New York Post pictured him as Humpty Dumpty, who couldn’t build a wall and had suffered a great fall. A more serious rebuke came from a leader column in the Wall Street Journal which said the party, and the country, would be best served if Mr Trump ceded the field to the next generation of Republican leaders.

Who can they have in mind? Someone who looks at lot like Ron DeSantis no doubt. Yale, Harvard, an officer in the US Navy, a family man, solid achievements behind him, untainted, the Florida Governor is Trump without the baggage, and he’s only 44 to boot. He is a credible rival for the Republican nomination, something Mr Trump did not have before. Yet another reason for him to spend more time at home with his gold furnishings, you might think.

The simple truth about Mr Trump, the reason his announcement is the subject of much muttering in the party and among its backers, is that he cannot help himself. He remains the boy whose daddy told him to be a “killer”, to never back down, never lose, never accept defeat. Good luck to anyone trying to unpick that.

Those who would like him to retreat into the background have one major problem: he remains remarkably popular among Republicans. In a poll of voters by the Pew Research Center before the mid-terms, 60% said they felt warmly towards the former President. While that was down from 79% in 2020 it was still a high score. Most wanted him to stick around in politics and 44% thought he should run for President in 2024. This is no has-been. His core support remains strong and like the leader they adore, they take criticism and rejection as a sign they are doing something right.

So, we have one half of America retaining some level of affection for Mr Trump, the other half cannot stand the thought that he might return as President. For now, the candidate himself is going nowhere. That’s the Donald problem. Now the Joe problem.

If the red wave had hit as expected it would have put a severe dent in Joe Biden’s chances of running for a second term. His critics would have been proved correct: age 79 at the time of the midterms, he was too old for a 2024 run. With that sad fact clear to all, there would be plenty of time to line up a replacement and secure an orderly, successful transition.

But there was no thumping defeat that could be blamed on Mr Biden. Instead the Democrats defied tradition and largely beat the curse of the midterms.

Yet while the party as a whole remains popular, the President continues to score record low approval ratings. In a recent survey, 41.7% thought he was doing a good job – up from previous levels, but still bumping along the bottom compared to his predecessors at this point in their presidencies.

Now that Mr Trump has declared, the pressure on the man who beat him last time can only intensify. A decision is expected soon.

While Mr Biden has said he wants a second term, the number of voters who don’t want him to run again has hovered consistently around the 70% mark. That seems clear enough, yet it would be understandable if he wanted to stick around. Having waited so long to be President, Mr Biden could be as difficult to budge as his former opponent. “Watch me,” was his most recent response to the doubters.

Those in the know think it will be a no to 2024, largely from the way he refers to any announcement as “a family decision”. Still, watching him striding the international stage again, he does not look like someone who wants to go home and stay there.

While a rerun of 2020 is possible it is hard to see it as in any way desirable. America remains deeply divided and neither the current President nor his predecessor have done much to change that, and in many ways have added to the divisions. The one constant in politics is change, and America has shown it wants more of it.

As for Mr Trump, he should definitely think again. Two more years of scrapping for the nomination and four more if he ultimately wins? It’s enough to make anyone yearn for a lie down, whatever time the clock says.