Republican primary voters strongly backed Donald Trump for the presidential nomination, but the party is far less sure if it wants him to lead the GOP if he loses in November.
When asked in the latest Bloomberg Politics poll who should be the face of the party nationally in the event of a Hillary Clinton victory, likely voters who are or lean Republican splintered down a list of five options.
A plurality, 27 percent, picked vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. Trump got 24 percent, ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 19 percent, House Speaker Paul Ryan at 15 percent, and Ohio Governor John Kasich at 10 percent.
So I guess Trumpism is only a cult religion for about a quarter of the GOP. The rest of the Republican base likes Trump only as long as he's winning -- if he lose, 86 him and find somebody else -- maybe Pence, the only Republican in recent months who's been credited in some quarters with getting the better of a Democrat.
Kos looks at these numbers and overthinks them:
I’ve long tracked the split of the GOP into its three warring factions -- establishment, religious right, and Tea Party.Okay, enough. This all seems carefully thought out, and it probably does describe the divisions that will manifest themselves in the 2020 Republican primaries.
... Mike Pence (a quarter) represents the religious right, Donald Trump represents the Tea Party deplorables (a quarter), and Paul Ryan-John Kasich represents the establishment (a quarter). Ted Cruz is an odd duck, ingratiating himself with both the Tea Party and theocratic wings of his party....
Based on these numbers and those of the primary, the numbers shake out to about 40 percent Tea Party, 30 percent religious right, and 25 percent establishment. (The last 5 percent are inconsequential libertarian types, think Ron Paul.) ...
But even that doesn’t fully explain the balance of power....
But until then, Republicans, for the most part, aren't going to be fighting with one another. Republicans are going to be fighting with Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the mainstream media, pro-choice women, gay people, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, low-wage workers who want a minimum-wage increase ... you know, the usual Antichrists. They're not going to fuss over ideology. They'll just want to rally around whoever appears capable of kicking their enemies' asses.
That could even be Paul Ryan, if he survives as Speaker and is willing to be maximally intransigent, as (possibly) the head of the only part of the federal government Republicans still control. GOP voters are wary of him now, but they'll love him if he's blocking every Clinton initiative and giving his blessing to every imaginable investigation of the new president's alleged wrongdoings, past and present.
Do GOP voters care which wing of the party their new standard-bearer comes from? No. We've been hearing since the Tea Party days that the angry Republican base doesn't care about the religious right's issues anymore -- but start talking about wedding cakes for gay couples or transgender bathroom rights and all of a sudden the folks who were supposedly post-Christian conservative were rallying around the likes of Kim Davis, just because she was infuriating liberals.
Don't they hate the billionaire class now? Well, besides the fact that they nominated a billionaire for president, there hasn't been a word of protest in response to the Trump tax plan, which is extraordinarily billionaire-friendly.
Don't they hate foreign entanglements? You tell me. Do Republican voters cheer Trump because he (eventually) opposed the Iraq War, or do they cheer him because he wants to destroy jihadist movements via torture, plunder, and other war crimes? The answer: both of these things are true. They cheer whoever infuriates their enemies (Trump's anti-war talk infuriates the Republican establishment, which the base hates now because it hasn't overturned Obamacare, repealed gay marriage, jailed Hillary Clinton, and exiled Barack Obama to Kenya). Remember, they also lustily cheered Jeb Bush -- probably for the only time in his campaign -- when he defended his warmonger brother at a debate last fall.
There's no ideological logic to any of this. GOP base voters just want a winner -- and a conqueror. They want to see us crushed underfoot. They don't care who does it, or how. Donald Trump? Julian Assange? Vladimir Putin? It doesn't matter. Ideology doesn't matter -- just the promise of victory.