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Donald Trump’s Spell over the GOP Is Fading Away

Image by Gage Skidmore. Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Former President Donald Trump is staying out of the RNC chair election – and that might just show how much his power over the GOP has stalled out.

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The RNC election pits two Trump acolytes against one another: current RNC chair Ronna McDaniel and Trump attorney Harmeet Dhillon. Asked during the conservative podcast “The Water Cooler,” who he preferred for the RNC chair, Trump gave a non-answer.

“Well, I can honestly say I like both of them. I mean, I get along with both of them. I haven’t taken a stance, you know, Let them fight it out.” Trump added that Dhillon has “done a great job” with her legal work for him.

Also running for the RNC chair is Trump ally, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. According to Lindell, he has “locked in” the commitments he needs to prevent McDaniel from securing an outright win.

“I have plenty of states now. I believe she’s well under 85 – with my math, I’d say somewhere around 70 to 75.” Lindell said on January 9th.

McDaniel facing challenges

GOP voters are frustrated with McDaniel. A new poll indicates that a significant majority of GOP voters would prefer that McDaniel not be re-elected to her position as the chair of the RNC.

The poll, which the Convention of States Action and The Trafalgar Group conducted, showed that only 5.6 percent of Republican voters want McDaniel to be re-elected to her fourth consecutive two-year term as RNC chair.

Nearly three-fourths of poll takers, however, indicated that they were ready for the GOP to elect a new leader of the RNC.

In large part, the reason GOP voters are frustrated with McDaniel is because the GOP has fared so poorly in elections during McDaniel’s tenure.

During McDaniel’s three two-year terms, the GOP has lost big – there was the House in 2018, the White House in 2020, and of course the Senate in 2022. McDaniel hasn’t really won anything as RNC chair. The 2022 midterms were especially damning for McDaniels.

The out-of-power party is – based on historical precedent – expected to win back seats in Congress; 2022 was supposed to be the year of the “red wave” and a sweeping Republican majority that would have jammed up Biden’s agenda until 2024.

Donald Trump Won’t Jump Into RNC Fight 

Trump’s unwillingness to pick a horse in the RNC race may be the result of how poorly Trump-endorsed candidates fared in the 2022 midterms.

In battleground states, Donald Trump picked were routed, winning one, single contest (JD Vance won his Senate race in Ohio).

Otherwise, Trump’s picks were destroyed – which degraded the value of Trump’s stock considerably.

Understandably, Trump may be hesitant to lose again. Trump knows that if he picks an RNC chair and that RNC chair loses – which is entirely possible given that the race may be tightly contested – then Trump will bear further political consequences; his reputation as an election loser will be further cemented.

And at a time when Trump’s political stock is the lowest it’s been in nearly eight years, at a time when political rivals are surging to challenge Trump for the GOP nomination, he no doubt wants to avoid being labeled a loser.

So, Trump’s unwillingness to endorse a chair for the RNC is likely a bit of gun shyness after a poor midterm performance.

Either way, the fact that Donald Trump is not able to just pick a winner and that person wins the RNC chair demonstrates that Trump’s influence over the GOP has become diminished.

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison 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. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense 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 has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.