An astonishing 61 percent of Republicans polled by Schoen Cooperman Consulting, a well-known political consultancy firm in Washington, D.C., support former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign to win back the White House. That’s 50 points higher than the next-nearest candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy at 13 percent, and Ron DeSantis at 12 percent.
Despite all the indictments against him, and the cavalcade of defeats Trump-backed candidates — and even Trump himself in 2020 — have endured since 2018, a staggering majority of Republican voters remain militantly committed to Trump’s controversial campaign.
As Doug Schoen and Carly Cooperman outline in a recent article, immediately following the disastrous 2022 midterms, when the Republican Party failed to achieve the kind of victory it was projected to win, most Republican voters seemed ready to abandon Trump.
This explains why Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ poll numbers surged in the few months following the November 2022 debacle. Back then, most people could see that it was the Trump-endorsed candidates who overwhelmingly lost to their Democratic Party opponents.
Donald Trump is the Top GOP Candidate for Most Republican Voters
Today, the situation is completely reversed, at least as concerns voters’ perceptions in the GOP presidential primary. DeSantis, once the darling of the media and viewed as the future of the Republican Party, has struggled since officially announcing his campaign over the summer.
He’s starting to make up the difference, but Trump has enjoyed sizable advantages — both because he is somewhat of an incumbent, and because Trump jumped in the race months before DeSantis did. Trump immediately began defining DeSantis, even as the DeSantis team was still organizing itself for the eventual race, opting to wait to make their official announcement several months after Trump joined.
Schoen and Cooperman assert that the reason for the nearly complete reversal among the GOP electorate has less to do with the Trump campaign’s narrative of being unfairly persecuted by the Faceless Men of the Deep State, though that is a compelling narrative for many Republican voters. Instead, Schoen and Cooperman believe that the reason behind the reversal in GOP voter perceptions about Trump’s electability comes from the fact that President Joe Biden is viewed as being weak.
The Republicans and their right-wing media ecosystems have hammered Biden over perceptions that he is cognitively impaired due to his advanced age, as well as the fact that most Americans believe the economy under Biden is awful.
Thanks to Biden’s perceived weakness, Republican voters now think that Trump, even with his negatives, offers the greatest chance of defeating Biden and his Democratic Party in 2024. This is an interesting turn, since 72 percent of likely Republican voters in a recent poll still say they hold favorable views of Governor DeSantis. Yet, those same voters still prefer Trump, two-to-one.
Despite these lopsided poll numbers, multiple Republican candidates remain to challenge the forty-fifth president. Besides Ron DeSantis (who remains the only real challenger to Trump), there’s Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), to name only a few.
I do not lump George Soros apprentice Vivek Ramaswamy with this crowd because I do not believe that Ramaswamy is anything more than a plant by the Trump campaign to bleed support away from Ron DeSantis. His presidential campaign is not serious, regardless of how much support it receives.
DeSantis is Going to Be the Nominee
Trump’s messaging among Republican voters has been incredible. He seems to speak the visceral language that most Republican voters prefer, which is to articulate vague promises about how he alone can fix all our problems (despite not having achieved such lofty goals the first time he was president), while insisting that he is the victim of a great conspiracy hatched by the Deep State to prevent his presidency from happening again.
There is no doubt that Trump has been targeted by overzealous, politically charged prosecutors. There is also little question that Trump has exacerbated his legal woes at almost every turn, which is why he will be found guilty in at least one of his major criminal trials. Even still, Trump remains by far the most popular candidate among Republican voters. If the primary were held today, he would likely win.
So why do all these candidates remain?
Because Donald Trump’s campaign is built on a house of sand. The legal challenges mounting against him, whether politically charged or not, are real and continue to worsen with each day. Trump has been indicted on a combined 91 felony counts from four cases, two of them federal. One of the cases against Trump, the mishandled classified documents case, carries with it a possible sentence of 33 years in prison.
What’s more, there is a case building that, if Trump is found guilty in either the federal case involving his alleged role in the January 6 riot, or Trump’s alleged attempt to illegally influence the outcome of the Georgia vote in the 2020 presidential election, the forty-fifth president may be ineligible to run or hold political office ever again under the Fourteenth Amendment’s “insurrection clause.”
These cases will continue to dog Trump throughout the presidential election cycle, which is why the candidates remain in place despite their low poll numbers.
It is highly likely that Trump will indeed be disqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment from running for re-election. Republicans will need to scramble to nominate someone else.
Since Ron DeSantis has the largest war chest of the other non-Trump GOP candidates, I would recommend the Florida governor remain in the race for as long as possible. Regardless of Trump’s popularity among voters, the Administrative State has a very real chance of getting Trump legally kicked off the ballot in 2024. The GOP will need to nominate a competent candidate quickly after Trump is disqualified.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
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