With Donald Trump already declaring his 2024 candidacy for the presidency, the Republican Party finds itself in an odd place: The party has a candidate who is beloved by its base but remains generally unpopular with the overall public.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, in fact, Trump’s overall approval rating now stands at 31 percent, with 59 percent of respondents viewing the former president negatively. That’s the lowest favorability rating recorded in the poll for Trump since he first started running for president in the summer of 2015.
However, Trump’s approval rating among Republican voters remains at 70 percent. But it’s another story for independent voters.
“Among independent voters, 25 percent have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 62 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him,” a source from Quinnipiac said. “This is his lowest favorability rating among independent voters since Quinnipiac University first asked this question of registered voters in May 2015.”
The poll also found that 70 percent of registered voters “say they would not like to see Donald Trump as the 2024 Republican nominee for president,” and that even among Republicans, just 56 percent say they want Trump as the nominee in the next presidential election.
“Is it a ripple of doubt or a growing tidal wave of rejection? Former President Trump’s post-presidential announcement numbers are heading in the wrong direction,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said in the polling outfit’s press release. “You would have to go back at least six years to find less support for him from Republican, independent and American voters as a whole.”
The poll comes following several months of bad news for the former president. Many candidates backed by him including Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Georgia Senatorial candidate Herschel Walker lost what were seen as winnable races, while candidates sympathetic to Trump’s bogus “stop the steal” narrative were wiped out almost completely in swing states.
Trump’s call for the “termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” was greeted less-than-positively, and there was also widespread mockery when Trump promised a special announcement, it turned out to be the introduction of a line of digital trading cards, arriving at what could charitably be described as the tail end of the NFT craze. The cards did, however, sell out quickly.
And of course, Trump is facing increasing legal jeopardy. There is a special counsel weighing whether to charge him in either the Mar-a-Lago classified documents investigation or in connection with January 6 or possibly both; the January 6 Select Committee is said to be considering criminal referrals against the former president personally. Even the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is said to be reviving its probe into the Stormy Daniels hush money affair after it appeared to drop the matter earlier this year.
Whether an indictment would put an end to Trump’s dreams of a return to the White House, or rally his supporters around him, remains to be seen, as would the timing of a trial, should one take place. But either way, the dynamics of the 2024 primaries are beginning to take shape.
With Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis widely expected to run, among other Republicans, Trump’s popularity with the GOP base will be tested. And with DeSantis gaining support from Republican donors and even some Trump loyalists, it would appear that either Trump will lose the primary, or will emerge victorious but bruised from a long and bitter primary fight.
Possibly the worst-case scenario for the GOP would be if DeSantis narrowly defeats Trump in a primary contest, at which point the Republican electorate is divided and Trump makes a habit of doing all he possibly can to undermine GOP nominee DeSantis, in such a way that would leave the eventual Republican ticket vulnerable heading into November that year.
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.