Donald Trump’s Support is Slipping Within the GOP
Author: Greg Valliere
February 1, 2022
MOST REPUBLICANS ON CAPITOL HILL will tell you privately that they have an excellent chance of recapturing the House in November, and a good chance of narrowly taking the Senate — except for one factor: Donald Trump could drag them down.
THESE REPUBLICANS SEE MOST OF THE KEY ISSUES breaking in their favor: inflation, illegal immigration, urban crime, mixed messages on Covid, etc. Yet Trump insists that the dominant issue in the next election should be his claim that he was cheated out of a second term.
THE DAM BEGAN TO BREAK in recent days, after Trump’s suggestion that the Jan. 6 rioters might deserve a pardon. That enraged Senate Republicans, who want to move on and focus on issues that can help them in the fall; they don’t want a backwards look at the last election.
A GOOD BAROMETER OF THE PARTY’S MOOD is the outspoken Sen. Lindsey Graham, who called Trump’s comments “inappropriate.” He added: “No, I don’t want to send any signal that it was OK to defile the Capitol. There are other groups with causes that may want to go down the violent path” if they are encouraged by Trump pardons, Graham said.
OTHER CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS VOICED SIMILAR OPINIONS — including John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota. And a majority of Senate Republicans are exasperated by Trump’s continued insistence that former Vice President Pence failed to block Biden’s victory; Pence had no such authority.
IF TRUMP SEEKS RE-ELECTION IN 2024, he almost certainly will face opposition. Some could come, incredibly, from the far right, which has mocked Trump’s support of vaccines and his initial endorsement of Covid lockdowns. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is itching to challenge Trump from the right.
THERE UNDOUBTEDLY WILL BE A CHALLENGE from more moderate Republicans, like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and possibly former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. A half dozen Republicans have made the trek to frigid New Hampshire, which has a history of surprising primary results.
TRUMP STILL HAS SOLID SUPPORT among his passionate base, but polls show that an increasing percentage of Republican voters may be tiring of him. We’d guess that he probably has the backing of 75% in the party, down from about 90% a few months ago. More and more voters want to hear what he would do about inflation; they’re tired of re-litigating the 2020 election, and they’re sick of debate over Jan. 6.
OUR BOTTOM LINE is that Trump is not a shoo-in for the GOP nomination, and would face an uphill fight in the general election, perhaps against a fresh face (a moderate governor?) on the Democrats’ ticket.
TRUMP COULD GET BOGGED DOWN BY a steady drumbeat of revelations: Did he seek to impound voting machines? Does he face indictment in Georgia for intimidating officials who ruled that he lost the state? Does he face charges of tax fraud in New York?
IT’S CLEAR TO US that most of the policy issues will break for the GOP in the next two elections. So why would Republicans want to throw the Democrats a life preserver? The public wants to move on, yet Trump wants the debate to be about him — regardless of the damage that would inflict on his own party.
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