Trump is dividing the GOP in opposition to itself in ways in which Republicans couldn’t think about
That gave him a lifeline within the GOP even after his attempted coup and his defeat at the ballot box. It may be years before we learn exactly why Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans lost 10 votes out of the 17 they should have cast to bring Trump down. Perhaps there was simply a lack of political will within the conference, or perhaps they actually made the strategic decision that it would be better for the party not to throw him overboard than to let go of him completely. If so, it should be remembered that they made this assessment after already suffering two staggering losses in the Georgia Senate runoff, not least due to Trump’s incessant electoral fraud.
Anyway, the Senate Republicans have handed that lifeline to Trump, and now we’re just getting a glimpse of how disastrous the move has been for the party as a whole.
None of this is to say that the Democrats are guaranteed election victories at halfway through next year. Indeed, all historical trends suggest the opposite for a party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress.
But it’s a claim that Trump’s continued presence in the party – and even the full takeover – is already proving so much more damaging than beneficial. It’s something I’ve been writing about for months and maybe the total collapse of the GOP under Trump’s thumb shouldn’t surprise me, but I have to admit it is me. Trump is shaping an alarming number of the most critical Republican congressional elections by blessing the candidacies of those who most zealously embrace his big lie about the theft of the 2020 elections. Trump has also knocked down Republicans in several swing states (Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) and Texas (!) For Arizona-style audits, even after that hot mess hilariously confirmed Biden’s victory, and his foray is being seen in other states (Michigan) continued at that moment.
But Trump also notches these successes by breaking state parties and playing the Republicans against themselves in almost every case. In almost all cases, GOP disputes erupted over whether the bogus audits should even go or go far enough, sometimes pitting Republican lawmakers against each other (Michigan) or local GOP officials (Arizona). Right now, in Nevada – a swing state with a major Senate race in 2022 – the state’s GOP is in full meltdown mode, or “civil war,” as Politico put it.
With that in mind, Trump made what may be his most sinister statement this week – a threat to lower the turnout if Republicans don’t “break up”. the 2020 presidential election fraud “-to set an impossible bar for every sedentary Republican across the country.
Apart from that, Trump said: “Republicans won’t vote ’22 or ’24. It’s the most important thing Republicans have to do. “
In a CNN / SSRS poll this week, respondents were asked whether Republicans and Democrats in Congress “deserve re-election”. Predictably, the numbers weren’t great for either party, but they were absolutely terrible for the Republicans. Only 37% of respondents said they deserve re-election and 63% said they don’t. (Democrats were 46% yes / 54% no.)
But the real problem for Republicans is losing support within their own party – including 35% of self-proclaimed Republicans in the poll who say GOP members don’t deserve re-election and only 65% say they do . (Democratic voters’ assessment of their own members was better, with 20% saying their members don’t deserve re-election and 80% saying they do.)
This internal erosion of GOP support continues to be evident in Civiq’s pursuit of support for the parties, where Republicans have never really gained a foothold among their own constituents since Election Day 2020. Similar to the CNN poll, only 66% of registered GOP voters have a positive view of their own party.
The Democrats, on the other hand, mostly assert themselves with 86% support among their own voters.
It is of course noteworthy that shortly after the mid-term elections in 2018, the Republicans also experienced a severe loss of confidence among their own voters. So yes, the GOP could bounce back.
But now Republicans in Congress are making Trump work against them every step of the way. And he’ll never be satisfied until he’s achieved total dominance – including full and unequivocal acceptance of his 2020 election fraud lies by every GOP lawmaker across the country.