Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, of course. And during the 2022 midterms, Trump endorsees faired atrociously; the only Trump endorsee to win in a battleground state was JD Vance of Ohio; the rest lost to Democrats – in states where the GOP is competitive.
Accordingly, some prominent Republicans are proposing that the GOP move beyond Trump – who has been the de facto leader of the party for seven years.
Still, many GOP officials are sticking with Trump.
Time for change in GOP?
The Republican party’s subpar electoral performance has not gone unnoticed.
Representative Lee Zeldin, who lost his race for New York governor said that “change is desperately needed” within the GOP.
A prominent Fox News host echoed similar sentiments. “We don’t change anything,” Laura Ingraham said. “We just keep doing the same thing over and over again,” adding that she was “pissed.”
What would change look like?
For starters, change within the GOP would consist of outing Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel – a Trump loyalist who has run the GOP since 2017. McDaniel is running for the RNC chair position again this year, prompting groans from party insiders upset with McDaniel’s performance.
“No RNC Chair in the history of the whole party has lasted as long as Ronna McDaniel without seeing at least one winning election season,” Erick Erickson, a conservative radio host, tweeted. “She took the job in 2017, and the GOP has lost every election cycle since.”
McDaniel will face a contested election. Harmeet Dhillon, an RNC committee member, will challenge McDaniel.
So will Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO. But McDaniel is still the favorite – especially considering that she has secured a letter of endorsement that over half the RNC committee has already signed. So, McDaniel may well already have the election in the bag.
Dump Donald Trump?
In addition to McDaniel being ousted, the second most significant change within the GOP would be to nominate someone other than Donald Trump for the presidential general election.
Trump announced his candidacy last month and, if successful in winning the GOP primary, would be on his third straight GOP ticket. Of course, Trump lost the last time he was on the ticket (he lost the popular vote both times he was on the ticket). Usually when an incumbent president loses a presidential election his career in presidential politics is over. But Trump seems to have unique staying power.
Why is the GOP is resistant to change?
To explain why Trump and McDaniel have so much staying power within the GOP, POLITICO asked Michael Steele, a former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and former RNC committee chairman, for his take.
According to Steele, MAGA loyalists have become dominant within the GOP party apparatus – especially at the state level.
Resultingly, even though there is national-level frustration with Trump, or the GOP’s, consistently poor performance in elections, the entrenchment of MAGA loyalists have restrained any sort of pivot away from MAGA candidates.
“If you look at the state party organizations, it’s the MAGA strain of Republicanism that’s become dominant,” Steele told POLITICO. “And they’re willing to change the rules, they’re willing to ignore an insurrection, refer to it as just ‘political discourse.’ All that stuff coming out of the national party is a reflection of what’s happening inside the party across the states.”
So even as the GOP higher-ups try to move beyond MAGA and elect up-and-comers, say Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the entrenchment of MAGA at the state level may mean Trump and McDaniel get another election cycle in the driver’s seat.
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.