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Something Is Wrong with Donald Trump (The GOP Doesn’t Care)

Donald Trump. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
President Donald J. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, right, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump Has Lots of Problems – Why Won’t the GOP Dump Him? “Why won’t the Republican Party stop Donald Trump?” is a question that has been asked over and over again since Trump first began running for president in 2015. And now, as with most of the time since then, the answer is that a lot of Republicans have been trying, and they haven’t succeeded. 

As of the last week of April, according to the Morning Consult poll, Trump had 58 percent of Republican support in the 2024 Republican nomination contest, compared to Ron DeSantis with 21 percent; this represented Trump’s largest lead in that poll to date. Mike Pence is third in the poll with 7 percent, followed by Nikki Haley, Liz Cheney, and Vivek Ramaswamy with 3 percent each. 

It was a very different picture last December, when DeSantis looked like a viable alternative to Trump, following a midterm election in which DeSantis won a landslide re-election victory, while numerous candidates backed by Trump lost. Earlier this year DeSantis was collecting huge money from Republican donors who were ready for a post-Trump future for the GOP. 

What’s changed? DeSantis, who still has not officially declared that he’s running for president, has very much shown he’s not ready for prime time, with his strategy of not responding to Trump’s frequent attacks clearly not working. 

Trouble For Donald Trump Spells Popularity

This has happened despite Trump’s indictment in New York on charges related to the payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and with the former president facing at least three different other criminal investigations, as well as a civil lawsuit in New York accusing him of rape. 

The reason for Trump’s staying power appears to be simple: The Republican base likes him and wants him to be the party’s standard bearer. This proved to be the case after various events that looked like the end of Trump, from the “Access Hollywood” tape to the two impeachments to his defeat in the 2020 election, to everything else that has happened since. 

Furthermore, members of the Republican Party who have challenged Trump along the way have tended to end up either cast out of politics – like Liz Cheney, Bob Crocker, and Jeff Flake – or have converted to diehard Trump supporters – like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. 

Will the Base Support Another?

Frank Luntz explored this question in a New York Times op-ed last month, in which he hosted two dozen focus groups of Trump supporters. 

“Like Republican primary voters nationwide, the focus group participants still respect him, most still believe in him, a majority think the 2020 election was stolen, and half still want him to run again in 2024,” Luntz wrote. 

It did find, however, that some Republican voters are open to another possibility, provided certain conditions are met. 

“I’ve found, based on my focus groups since 2015, that roughly a third of Trump voters prioritize the character of the country and the people who run it — and that’s enough to change the 2024 outcome,” Luntz wrote. “It’s not about beating Mr. Trump with a competing ideology. It’s about offering Republicans the contrast they seek: a candidate who champions his agenda but with decency, civility, and a commitment to personal responsibility and accountability.”

Luntz also noted that Trump cannot possibly be as much of an anti-establishment politician now as he was leading up to 2016, since he served as president, has been in politics for years, and is no longer an outsider. 

“Mar-a-Lago has become Grand Central Terminal for politicians, political hacks, lobbyists, and out-of-touch elites who have ignored, forgotten, and betrayed the people they represent. Worse yet, with incessant fund-raising, often targeting people who can least afford to give, Mr. Trump has become a professional politician reflecting the political system he was elected to destroy,” he wrote. 

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Expertise and Experience: 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.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, 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.