Tuesday, November 22, 2022


Last week I wrote:
I've believed for a while now that Trump is close to unbeatable within the GOP, but the campaign against him is so intense and the alternative so appealing to Republican and right-leaning independent voters that I've begun to suspect that Trump is in for a bad beating.
But I think I was wrong. Many Trump voters seem to be resisting the party's efforts to make Ron DeSantis the nominee. Here's a new Emerson College poll:
... former President Donald Trump leads with 55% support in a hypothetical 2024 Republican Primary, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with a quarter of Republican support (25%). No other candidate reaches double-digit support....
This follows post-midterm polls from Politco/Morning Consult (Trump 47%, DeSantis 33%) and Harvard CAPS/Harris (Mark Penn's firm; Trump 46%, DeSantis 28%). The Hill hilariously used the headline "DeSantis Closes Gap with Trump in New Poll" for a story about the latter survey, which showed Trump up by 18.

So after an endless round of stories about elite Republicans' disgust with Trump -- GOP senators don't want him! Paul Ryan doesn't want him! Billionaire donors don't want him! -- Republican non-elitists are telling us that they still want him.

And I do mean "non-elitists." As I told you last week, the Morning Consult poll showed that Trump's support is disproportionately among the non-college-educated; Emerson finds the same thing:
Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling noted, “There is a stark education divide among Republican primary voters. A 71% majority of voters with a high school degree or less support Trump in 2024 whereas 14% support DeSantis. A 53% majority of those with a college degree, some college, or associate’s degree support Trump while 28% support DeSantis. By contrast, Republican voters with a postgraduate degree are most split: 32% support Trump, 29% support DeSantis, and 18% support Mike Pence for the Republican nomination.”
There's also a generation gap:
Kimball added: “There is also an age divide in the Republican primary: younger voters under 50 break for Trump over DeSantis 67% to 14%, voters between 50 and 64 break for Trump 54% to 32%, while Republicans over 65 are more split: 39% support Trump and 32% DeSantis.”
Why would DeSantis be doing best among the elderly? It's simple: They have more time to watch Fox News. Fox loves DeSantis and is completely over Trump.

But even among the oldest and best-educated Republicans, Trump leads DeSantis, though it's close. I suspect that the efforts by GOP elites to manufacture consent for a dump-Trump movement might be backfiring. No one in the GOP base wants to be told whom to vote for by Paul Ryan, of all people. (He's an unperson to the GOP base, a worthless RINO.)

Fox News personalities are clearly doing a better job of persuasion than other elites, because boomers have grown old thinking that their favorite TV personalities are their friends. If the party wants to persuade the rest of the base to switch to DeSantis, it will have to use the media younger and poorer Republicans prefer and win over the personalities they trust. Who would that be? Ben Shapiro? Joe Rogan? Buck Sexton (whose name sounds like the pseudonym of a cowboy-themed male stripper)?

Maybe all this will change next year, once DeSantis announces. But for now, what the party elites are doing isn't working.

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