In the wake of a mini-rebellion among House Republicans – 10 of whom sided with Democrats to impeach Donald Trump this week – there are some signs that the death grip that the President has maintained over the GOP may be slipping.
Just 6 in 10 Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing in a new Pew Research Center poll released Friday, a major dip from the 77% who felt the same way back in August.
In fact, Trump’s overall decline in job approval – down to just 29% – is primarily attributable to his stumbles among his party’s base.
There’s other evidence in the Pew poll that suggests Trump’s incitement of the crowd gathered at a January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally – and the overrunning of the US Capitol that followed – has, at least temporarily, led previously loyal Republicans to peel away from the President.
For example, only 10% of Republicans in a November Pew poll said Trump’s post-election conduct was “poor;” that number doubled to 20% in the most recent Pew survey.
One more: Less than 6 in 10 – 57% – of Republicans say Trump “should continue to be a major political figure for years to come.”
Now, note that I didn’t say above that Trump has lost his grip on the Republican Party. Because he has not.
In that same Pew poll, two-thirds of Republicans (64%) said Trump either “definitely” or “probably” won the 2020 election. (He did not.) And less than 1 in 5 (18%) of Republicans said Trump deserves “a lot” of blame for what happened in the US Capitol on January 6.
“Donald Trump owns this party because he owns its voters. What guys like [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy don’t understand is that to the extent that they have any power, they serve at the pleasure of the man who commands their mob. Sorry, I mean ‘their voters.’
“Never forget that in the modern world: Popular Power > Elite Power”
I agree with Last in the main. There’s no question that whoever controls the party’s base controls the party. And that Trump is more that person than anyone else currently on the scene – by a lot.
The only thing I would suggest is that there are some signs of slippage. It’s uniquely possible that these Republicans who have hopped off the Trump bandwagon will jump right back on once Joe Biden is president and the events of January 6 are in the rearview mirror.
It’s also possible that until Republicans find someone new, they will continue to linger in their feelings for Trump – like a relationship that’s gone bad but neither person has moved on because they haven’t met someone new they like.
In short: Trump isn’t going away. But his influence may be waning just slightly.