Trump Influence over GOP Slipping?

While recently deplatformed OAN released a ten minute video breathlessly approving of former President Trump’s January 29th political rally in Conroe Texas, and Newsmax published multiple mini-reports about the rally regarding everything from Trump’s suggested boycotts for AT&T to his promise to pardon January 6th conspirators if he is re-elected president, the highest profile Trump apologist was conspicuously missing from the commentary: Fox News.

Could it be that The New York Times is right, and Trump’s grip on the GOP is facing new strains?

Maybe so. Because even as Business Insider reported Newsmax’s audience skyrocketing during its airing of Trump’s Saturday evening rally, (possibly because Fox ignored it), and even as Trump himself used the rally to repeatedly tease another run for the White House in 2024, (presumably good, newsworthy fodder for the Conservative Propaganda machine to work with), what Fox chose to publish to its website Monday morning (1/31/2022) was a story highlighting growing opposition to another Trump run for president, at least among certain Republican elites. 

Maybe it’s because Fox can read the tea leaves? And maybe they’re ready, ever-so-slightly, to disassociate themselves from Trump’s core audience of  clownish fanatics? (Rolling Stone published a politics feature to its website Sunday (1/30) highlighting the oddball behavior of some of the rally’s kookier attendees, (including that of an influential Texan who claims to believe that Trump is actually a reincarnated JFK in disguise).)

The Times cited Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini in their report, who is quoted opining on Trump’s popularity with Republicans, “Things feel like they’ve been shifting. It’s a strong attachment. It’s one that very likely would win a Republican primary today. But is it the same ironclad, monolithic, Soviet-like attachment that we saw when Donald Trump was the incumbent president? No, it is not.” The Times report goes on to cite multiple surveys of Republicans in which the former President’s popularity seems to be trending (albeit slightly) downward, explaining that “In a reversal from Mr. Trump’s White House days, an NBC News poll in late January found that 56 percent of Republicans now define themselves more as supporters of the Republican Party, compared to 36 percent who said they are supporters of Mr. Trump first. The Trump-first faction had accounted for 54 percent of Republican voters in October 2020. The erosion since then spanned every demographic: men and women, moderates and conservatives, people of every age.”

But while those shifts in Trump’s polling results are interesting, (and possibly even hopeful!), more hopeful still is Fox, for the second time in 2 weeks, ignoring a Trump presidential rally. Because as Brian Stelter observed on the above-linked clip from CNN, in the modern world drawing crowds but not coverage is a sign of weakness.

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