GOP support for Donald Trump’s third consecutive presidential bid has nosedived. A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll has confirmed that Trump’s support within the GOP is indeed dipping – no doubt thanks to the performance of Trump endorsees during the midterms and Trump’s own never-ending legal dramas.
New Poll Shows Trump Stock Nosediving
The USA TODAY poll found that among Republicans, two-thirds want Trump’s policies but do not want Trump to be the standard-bearer promoting those policies.
A stunning 61 percent of Republicans would prefer a different nominee other than Trump – even though they agree with Trump’s agenda. The finding is significant as it represents an ideological shift away from Trump that seemed unfathomable until recently.
I wrote recently for 19FortyFive that the mainstream GOP never liked Trump – yet they were perfectly willing to tolerate him because his policies were just baseline conservatism in a colorful new package – meaning that Trump was a means to the policy ends the mainstream GOP sought.
Well, Trump is still a means to the policy ends that the GOP wants – only voters are indicating they are no longer willing to tolerate Trump as the vehicle.
“Republicans and conservative independents increasingly want Trumpism without Trump,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center told USA TODAY.
What Went Wrong for Trump
Trump is not dead in the water.
Counting out Trump, whose has a talent for Rasputin like resiliency, would be shortsighted. But Trump has fallen from favor, his stock has never been lower.
How did that happen? Well, losing a presidential election – as an incumbent – will reduce ones standing. The loss of the 2020 election has compounded with losses in every election cycle since – most notably a trouncing of Trump-endorsees during the 2022 midterms.
The end result is that the GOP no longer trusts Trump to win an election. Nor should they. Trump has lost the popular vote in two straight presidential elections and in 2022 his schtick contributed to the mitigation of what historical trends suggested should have been a “red wave.”
Trump’s electability problems are one factor. Trump’s ongoing legal-political dramas are another. Trump has long since been embroiled in lawsuits, impeachments, scandals, and gaffes. Many of Trump’s “slip-ups” appear to only make him stronger – as his base disdains the mainstream media and establishment Republicans who scoff at Trump’s slip ups.
Yet, the lawsuits et cetera, appear to be catching up with Trump – and may finally be causing some political damage.
An Alternative Emerges
The poll didn’t only gauge whether Republicans want Trump; the poll also gauged who Republicans wanted. And overwhelmingly, respondents answered that they wanted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to be the GOP standard-bearer. The numbers were eye opening. DeSantis led Trump by a 23-point margin – 56 percent to 33 percent.
DeSantis has emerged as the most viable challenger to Trump’s claim on the GOP ticket. The Florida governor has made a name for himself with a series of high profile moves, such as thwarting COVID conventions, challenging Disney Corporation, signing into law the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, and chartering a flight of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Unlike Trump, DeSantis won big during the midterms. DeSantis beat Charlie Crist, a former GOP governor of Florida running as a Democrat, by 20-points.
We’re still two years out from the presidential election. DeSantis hasn’t even declared his candidacy. But another poll or two like this and you can expect DeSantis to throw his hat in the ring – with resounding support from conservative America.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.