CPAC, the biggest annual gathering of the Republican Party activist base is almost upon us. Having turned sharply fascist in the past 4-5 years, they have invited Hungary’s fascist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to open the conference, which starts August 4 in Dallas. I bet they would’ve preferred Putin. But Orbán will do. Trump will speak later in the conference. The Wall Street Journal editors posed a question for Trump— and his supporters, like the CPAC faction of the GOP: If Biden is so hideously unpopular, why does he still out-poll Trump in 2024 matchups? What does that say about Trump? And the direction the GOP has been moving?
The editors worry that Trump’s toxicity— especially if he announces another presidential run— will spill over into the midterms and kill Republican candidates’ chances. “Trump’s meddling in primaries has already hurt GOP chances of taking back the Senate. His vendetta against Doug Ducey kept the Arizona Governor from running for the Senate, though Ducey would have been the strongest candidate against Sen. Mark Kelly. Trump’s preferred candidates in key states are struggling or close in the polls despite the favorable GOP trends. Mehmet Oz is trailing left-wing Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. Herschel Walker is a rookie candidate showing his inexperience in Georgia. and Rep. Ted Budd is barely ahead in North Carolina. As in 2010, Democrats could prevail against a slate of weak GOP candidates. It’s possible that voter unhappiness with the Democrats may be so strong that it swamps any concern with Trump, who after all will not be on the ballot. Glenn Youngkin was able to win the statehouse in Virginia in part because Trump largely stayed out of the race. But that was a rare exception, and Trump typically can’t help himself. He wants to be the center of attention all the time, and the media are all too happy to oblige. All the more now when his preoccupation is overcoming the stigma of his defeat in 2020 by sticking to his stolen-election line. If Republicans fall short of the gains they expect in Congress, he’ll blame them. If they do well, he’ll claim credit. Which brings us back to this week’s Siena/New York Times poll. For all of its bad news for Mr. Biden, he still beats Mr. Trump 44%-41% in a theoretical 2024 presidential rematch. What does it say that Joe Biden, the least popular President in modern times, still beats Donald Trump?”
Well, if you put any credence in the new Morning Consult poll released this morning, it says that 59% of voters now believe Trump is either very responsible for the J-6 sacking of the Capitol (46%) or partially responsible (13%). As a set of corollaries, 59% of voters say Trump misled the country about the outcome of the election; 67% say agree he attempted to overturn the results of the election; 65% say he claimed the election was fraudulent without evidence; and 50% think he should be prosecuted, while 35% say he committed no crimes.
But the poll that The Journal editors were referring to was the one the NY Times released by Siena today and was pushed by The Times as Half of GOP Voters Ready to Leave Trump Behind. And that’s one way to interpret this numbers— though not the way Trump probably is:
Michael Bender noted that Trump’s “post-presidential quest to consolidate his support within the Republican Party has instead left him weakened, with nearly half the party’s primary voters seeking someone different for president in 2024 and a significant number vowing to abandon him if he wins the nomination. By focusing on political payback inside his party instead of tending to wounds opened by his alarming attempts to cling to power after his 2020 defeat, Trump appears to have only deepened fault lines among Republicans during his yearlong revenge tour. A clear majority of primary voters under 35 years old, 64 percent, as well as 65 percent of those with at least a college degree— a leading indicator of political preferences inside the donor class— told pollsters they would vote against Trump in a presidential primary. Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, appears to have contributed to the decline in his standing, including among a small but important segment of Republicans who could form the base of his opposition in a potential primary contest. While 75 percent of primary voters said Trump was ‘just exercising his right to contest the election,’ nearly one in five said he ‘went so far that he threatened American democracy.’”
Trump’s troubles inside his party leave him hamstrung in a matchup against an unusually vulnerable incumbent.
The Times/Siena poll suggested that the fears of many Republican elites about a Trump candidacy may be well-founded: He trailed President Biden, 44 percent to 41 percent, in a hypothetical rematch of the 2020 contest, despite plummeting support for Biden, with voters nationwide giving him a perilously low 33 percent job-approval rating.
A growing anyone-but-Trump vote inside the party contributed to Trump’s deficit, with 16 percent of Republicans saying that if he were the nominee they would support Biden, would back a third-party candidate, wouldn’t vote at all or remained unsure what they would do. That compared to 8 percent of Democrats who said they would similarly abandon Biden in a matchup with Trump.
…Between the large number of primary voters ready for another nominee, and the growing number who say they would not vote for the former president again under any circumstances, the poll suggests Trump’s biggest hurdle to winning a second term isn’t another Republican opponent— it’s himself.
…Among Republicans who said they plan to vote against Trump in a primary, 32 percent said the former president’s actions threatened American democracy.
And that’s strongly reinforced today for anyone who watched— or will watch— Jamie Raskin’s masterful presentation of more of the astounding J-6 evidence against Trump and his crackpot cronies.