Monday, September 27, 2021


There was a GOP gathering in Michigan over the weekend, and journalists came away from it telling a story they like -- that Republicans really might be losing interest in Donald Trump. Here's The Detroit News:
The influence of President Donald Trump among Michigan Republicans appears to have waned, according to a straw poll of attendees at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island.

The unscientific survey of a little more than 740 Republicans, sponsored by The Detroit News, showed more people voted for other potential Republican candidates than they did for the former president when asked whom they would support. Trump still got the majority of votes with 47.5%, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis coming in second with about 25% of the vote.
I'm not sure I would consider the Mackinac gathering a bellwether. In September 2015 -- when Trump had a large lead over every potential rival in national Republican polls, a lead he'd had for two months -- the Mackinac straw poll was won by a candidate who'd be an also-ran in the primaries:
Rand Paul won the straw poll at the Mackinac Island Republican Leadership Conference, a show of organizational strength for a candidate who has seen his presidential hopes fade.

Paul led with 22 percent, followed by Carly Fiorina with 15 percent, John Kasich with 13 percent, and Ted Cruz with 12 percent. Trailing them were Jeb Bush with 9 percent, Marco Rubio with 8 percent, and Donald Trump with 6 percent.
Trump was seventh. Needless to say, he'd go on to win the Michigan primary the following March.

Also from this weekend's gathering, the Detroit Free Press reported:
Michigan businesswoman, political megadonor and former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos implicitly criticized the GOP's ongoing capture by former President Donald Trump in a Saturday address to the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.

DeVos told attendees at the biennial conference on Mackinac Island she worries that "principles have been overtaken by personalities" in today's political environment.

Though personalities can be important to point the party toward its policies, "ours is not a movement dependent on any one person," DeVos said.

"Politics now are so often about people, not the policies that impact lives directly."
DeVos has more money than God. She doesn't need Trump for anything. Yet, like George W. Bush, she still doesn't have the backbone to attack him by name.

And the big reveal of the straw poll is that Trump is under 50% -- yet he still won by 22.5.

It might not matter how popular Trump is. Remember, his lead in the 2020 Republican primaries was more than 80 points, yet forces loyal to him canceled primaries or caucuses in Kansas, Alaska, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. And that was then. Trumpists have taken over many state and local parties since 2020. Steve Bannon has been urging the Trump base to take over the party at the precinct level, ProPublica has reported:
In Wisconsin, for instance, new GOP recruits are becoming poll workers. County clerks who run elections in the state are required to hire parties’ nominees. The parties once passed on suggesting names, but now hardline Republican county chairs are moving to use those powers.

“We’re signing up election inspectors like crazy right now,” said Outagamie County party chair Matt Albert, using the state’s formal term for poll workers. Albert, who held a “Stop the Steal” rally during Wisconsin’s November recount, said Bannon’s podcast had played a role in the burst of enthusiasm.

ProPublica contacted GOP leaders in 65 key counties, and 41 reported an unusual increase in signups since Bannon’s campaign began. At least 8,500 new Republican precinct officers (or equivalent lowest-level officials) joined those county parties.
It would be hilarious if Republicans had a competitive presidential primary race in 2024 and the election theft mechanisms now being put in place by GOP state legislatures and governors were used against fellow Republicans, in order to steal the nomination for Trump. But I think he'll just win the nomination by (coerced) acclamation.

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