Monday, February 15, 2021


You might have assumed that January 6 and its aftermath had led much of America to recognize how toxic and dangerous Donald Trump is. But according to three new polls, Republicans still don't get it.

This one, from The Economist and YouGov, was conducted February 6 through February 9:
Who has been the best president in US history? ...

The change in GOP rankings since 2018, when the last survey was conducted, is striking. In 2018, Republicans ranked Reagan first (36%), followed by Trump (10%). Now, the positions are reversed, with the percentage of Republicans who name Trump as the best President ever having tripled to 36%, twice the number who still choose Ronald Reagan (18%).
This one, from Quinnipiac, was conducted February 11 through February 14 -- during Trump's second impeachment trial.
... three-quarters of Republicans say, 75 - 21 percent, that they would like to see Trump play a prominent role in the Republican Party, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of 1,056 adults released today. Overall, Americans say 60 - 34 percent that they do not want Trump to play a prominent role in the Republican Party....

A majority of Americans, 55 - 43 percent, say Trump should not be allowed to hold elected office in the future. Republicans say 87 - 11 percent that Trump should be allowed to hold elected office in the future.

...Republicans say 89 - 9 percent they oppose convicting Trump.
Here's my favorite result from the Quinnipiac poll: When asked, "Do you think that individuals would have still stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th even if Donald Trump had not spent months talking about how the 2020 presidential election was stolen, or don't you think so?," 59% of Republicans say they would have rioted anyway. Republicans believe the rioters would have just rioted on their own! Presumably even if Trump had conceded! (Republicans probably believe this because they believe the rioters were Antifa.)

And then there's this poll, conducted January 21 through February 2 by Gallup -- it's not primarily about Trump, but inferences can be drawn:
Independents are usually much more likely than Republicans or Democrats to favor a third political party, but in the current poll, Republicans are nearly as likely as independents to hold this view, 63% to 70%. That represents a dramatic shift for Republicans since last September when 40% favored a third party.
Now, you might argue that some Trump-weary Republicans see Trumpists dominating the GOP and want a non-Trumpist alternative. Or is that pro-Trump Republicans see a party that didn't fight hard enough to hand the election to Trump and want an even Trumpier party?

Let's look at some additional questions:
Currently, 68% of Republicans prefer that Trump remain the party leader, while 31% want the party to have a new leader....

An analysis that takes into account preference for a third party -- and preference of Trump leading the party -- finds that 41% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents both favor a third party and want Trump to be the leader of the GOP. Meanwhile, 28% favor a third party but want a new leader for the GOP.
So a plurality of Republicans who want a third party would like Trump as the GOP's leader. Thus, it's the pro-Trumpers more than the anti-Trumpers who wish they had an alternative to the status quo.

The survey asked Republicans and Republican-leaning independents what direction they would like to see the party move in the future. A 40% plurality want the party to become more conservative, while 34% want it to stay the same and 24% to become more moderate.
I assume "more conservative" is, to the respondents, a synonym for "more Trumpy."

So we know the party's voters learned nothing from the aftermath of the election, or learned the wrong lessons. We also know that Republicans are desperate to regain power.

I'll say what I always say: This means that Republicans who have problems with Trump, like Mitch McConnell, will come to terms with Trumpism by 2022, and will try to make it look as palatable as possible to non-MAGA voters. Don't assume they'll fail at this. By 2022, many Americans will have forgotten the sheer awfulness of Trump's conduct in 2020 and January of this year. MAGA Nation won't forget and will want vengeance. The party will be still be Trump's party -- but it can still win.

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