On the same day the House Select Committee investigating January 6th presented bombshell testimony concerning then-President Trump’s attempts to subvert American Democracy, the New York Times published a poll it conducted in collaboration with Sienna College that shows Trump with less than 50% support among Republicans for a 2024 White House bid.
According to The Times, “A growing anyone-but-Trump vote inside the party contributed to Mr. Trump’s deficit, with 16 percent of Republicans saying that if he were the nominee they would support Mr. Biden.”
The poll backs up a myriad of evidence that a plurality of Republican voters, as well as many party elites, are weary of Mr. Trump’s antics and would rather see another candidate run in 2024. Quotes by The Times, “Richard Bechtol, a 31-year-old Republican voter in Columbus, Ohio, said he would back either Mr. DeSantis or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas over the former president. Mr. Bechtol was disturbed by Mr. Trump’s behavior that led to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. “I hope he doesn’t run at all,” Mr. Bechtol said of the former president.”
A battle for another day?
It’s a complicated path for Republicans to navigate, however.
Even as the polling shows Trump’s grip on the party loosening, especially among younger Republican voters (under 35) and Republicans with a college degree, the Former President still enjoys enormous support among the Party’s base. 62% of voters who say they watch Fox News were still firmly behind Mr. Trump, and in a multi-candidate field the Former President led by more than 20% over his closest challenger, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who was the only other candidate to poll in the double digits.
The likelihood is, if Mr. Trump runs, he would at minimum begin as the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination. This has senior Congressional Republicans hedging when asked about whether the Former President should run again, and instead turning their focus to the timing of when he should announce. Eyeing what is predicted to be a favorable Republican environment in the midterms, Business Insider has noted “Top Republicans believe that they can maximize their performance in the election by focusing attacks on President Joe Biden and on topics like inflation, and fear a distraction from Trump.”
Said Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, “I don’t even want to think about the presidential election until after the midterms.”
And said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, “The political landscape and environment is favorable. And I think the fewer disruptions, obviously, the better.”
Complicated by Narcissism
But, despite the near-lockstep messaging from Republicans leaders who claim that voters are “not interested” in the panel’s work because the country should just “move on,” the Former President has clearly been watching the January 6th hearings. He has not only made clear that he’s aware of the damage being done to his reputation, he is desperate to do something about it. This has led to speculation, fueled by the Mr. Trump’s repeated teases at rallies and on his Truth Social account, that he could announce a 2024 bid for the White House as early as this month.
The New York Times even reported that Mr. Trump sees such an announcement as a way to distract Americans from the damning revelations being made public by the committee. This has led to panic among elected Republicans, who worry that their own midterm re-election chances will suffer if Mr. Trump inserts himself into a discussion they believe is better being about inflation, gas prices, and President Biden’s own flailing poll numbers.
As Business Insider notes, “Republican Party leaders are worried that former President Donald Trump could upend their performance in the midterms by announcing a 2024 bid in the next few weeks.”
And as Yahoo quoted one veteran Republican strategist: ““It’s the most selfish, f***ed-up thing he can do. He’s got to change the channel, because it’s all bad for him.”
Meanwhile, Texas Senator Ted Cruz did what Ted Cruz does best: he had an argument with a Muppet.