(Image: AP/Charlie Neibergall)

Maybe, deep down, Donald Trump doesn’t really want to win.

Not that he wants to lose, mind you. He HATES being a loser. But that doesn’t mean he actually wants another four years of hard yakka in the Oval Office.

He didn’t really want it the first time, according to numerous reports from insiders who said he only ran as a marketing ploy to help name recognition for his ailing business empire.

Here was Michael Wolff’s revelation in the excellent 2018 book Fire and Fury:

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Shortly after 8 on election night, it became clear that Trump had a real shot of becoming president.

Wolff wrote that Don Trump Jr said his father “looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.”

Steve Bannon, who helped run the Trump campaign and helped Trump’s team through the transition, said he saw Trump morph from “a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump”.

For months Melania refused to even move with him to the White House until he upped her pre-nup, so goodness knows what she would be demanding if he wins a second term. I mean, the woman can barely stand with him in public without recoiling at his touch.

He’s never had many friends, and staff don’t last long, which leaves the kids as company, and he’s ambivalent about most of them except for Ivanka who does have her own family.

Then there’s been the four years of his constant whining and whinging about all the hard work, the pressure, the witch-hunts, the bad publicity.

It’s just not, well, fun.

If it wasn’t great before, then this “Covid, Covid, Covid” thing has really ruined any chance of him enjoying a victory lap should he win the unwinnable election.

Which might explain his noticeable lack of policy or vision for the next term. After all, confirming Amy Coney Barrett on the eve of the election and guaranteeing a conservative court for the next generation is legacy enough.

Close advisers said he liked the rallies, just not the governing bit, and while he has indeed been barnstorming the country in recent weeks there was a telling sign at the weekend.

At a rally in Newtown, Pennsylvania, a more subdued Trump mused, “I could have been the greatest of all time”, in eerie echoes of Brando’s self-pitying “I coulda been a contender” speech from On The Waterfront.

You can see Trump preparing the “I didn’t want it anyway” speech even as he threatens to fight through the courts to the bitter end — or “bedlam”, as he warned yesterday.

He’s already speculated on what he might do afterwards with his ill-gotten gains from using the presidency for personal marketing. He suggested two weeks ago he might have to leave the country if he loses, which is more likely than his previous claim that he might tour the country in a trailer with Melania. Not going to happen.

But there is one overriding reason why I don’t think he really, really wants to win.

The inauguration crowds might be smaller this time, and he could not possibly risk that again.