What’s Wrong With the GOP?

A recent Gallup Poll found that Americans, in general, are happy with the Biden Administration. Except for Republicans. Another poll indicated that most of us want to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Except Republicans. What’s wrong with the GOP?

The most recent Gallup Poll (https://news.gallup.com/poll/339977/biden-approval-ratings-diverge-gender-education-race.aspx ) found that 56 percent of respondents approved Joe Biden’s job performance — versus 39 percent who disapproved.  While 96 percent of Democrats viewed Biden favorably, he earned the support of only ten percent of Republicans (and 55 percent of Independents).    (Not surprisingly, Biden polls worst with non-college-educated, rural, white men.)

To determine the true level of Biden’s support, it’s useful to study national opinion regarding the Covid relief bill.  A recent Pew Research poll (https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2021/03/09/broad-public-support-for-coronavirus-aid-package-just-a-third-say-it-spends-too-much/) found that 70 percent of respondents supported the Biden proposal — including 41 percent of those who were “Republican/lean Republican.”  The poll indicates that roughly two-thirds of voters support Biden’s policies — as opposed to supporting Biden personally — including a sizable chunk of Republicans,  (That is, about one-third of Republicans support Biden’s major initiatives even though they may not admit that in public.)

This makes sense because two-thirds of Republicans believe the 2020 presidential election was “invalid.”  ( https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/540508-majority-of-republicans-say-2020-election-was-invalid-poll?)  “[Former] President Trump’s rhetoric seems to have had a profound impact on his base’s outlook on the election.  Across all regions, our participants by and large opposed alternative voting methods, believed that those methods opened the election process to fraud, and felt that the 2020 election result was invalid.”  At the moment, two-thirds of the GOP feel cheated and, therefore, aren’t going to support Biden no matter what he does.  In contrast, the one-third of Republicans who believe the election was “valid” are prepared to move on.  They are prepared to consider the Biden-Administration agenda on an item by item basis — in contrast to most Republican members of Congress who appear to be opposed to anything Biden or Democrats propose.

A recent PBS/NPR/Marist Poll ( http://maristpoll.marist.edu/npr-pbs-newshour-marist-poll-results-the-biden-administration-covid-19/#sthash.z0TLROd9.dpbs) found that 60 percent of respondents approved of President Biden’s handling of the Coronavirus while 30 percent disapproved.  It was another indication that Biden has roughly a two-thirds level of support for his policies.

Of interest was the PBS/NPR/Marist poll finding that 30 percent of respondents have no intention of being vaccinated for the Coronavirus: 49 percent of Republican men.  Therefore, there is a “Trumpian” bloc of the electorate who believes the election was “invalid,” will not support any Biden/Democratic policy initiative, and will not  be vaccinated.  (They are prepared to “eat worms.”)

There are three consequences of the current political reality.  The first is that, at the moment,  Joe Biden has the support of a substantial majority of the electorate and, therefore, can move a lot of legislation through Congress.  (Obviously, the Senate’s filibuster rule will determine how much.)  That’s a good sign.  Democrats can’t bank on it, but it does indicate that Dems, at the moment, have political momentum.

The second consequence is that Republicans are fractured.  In the 2020 presidential election exit polls: 37 percent of respondents identified as Democrats, 36 percent identified as Republicans, and 26 percent identified as Independents.  Of the 36 percent that identified as Republicans, it appears that two-thirds are “Trumpians.”  In other words, at the moment about 25 percent of the electorate are hardcore Trump supporters.

Trump retains his hold on these Republicans but his attraction to the general electorate has diminished.  A recent Forbes poll (https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2021/02/16/trumps-popularity-rebounds-among-republicans-after-impeachment-trial-poll-suggests/?sh=40575fcf237e) found that 54 percent of Republican respondents “said they would vote for Trump in a hypothetical GOP primary.”  The Forbes study concluded: “While Republicans appear to have moved past evaluating Trump’s role in the insurrection at the Capitol, the broader electorate has not let go so easily, the poll suggests: 64% of respondents said Trump is a least partially responsible for the Capitol Hill violence.”  (At the February Conservative Political Action Conference, “only 68 percent of those at the conference said they wanted [Trump] to run again in 2024.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/28/us/politics/cpac-straw-poll-2024-presidential-race.html ) )

There’s early indications that in many 2022 Republican primaries, Trump will run his own slate of candidates; that is, back candidates that “fully supported” him in 2020.  For example, in 2022, in Georgia, Trump will field a Republican candidate — Jody Hice — as an alternative to incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger. (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/trump-endorses-challenger-against-georgia-elections-chief-brad-raffensperger)

Heading into the critical 2022 midterm election, Republicans are fractured.  While the majority of the GOP supports Trump — and his policies — there is strong support for other conservatives.  Therefore, in many GOP contests there will be a “mainstream” Republican candidate and a Trump candidate.  This will negatively impact Republican fundraising.  (In email appeals, Trump is advising his supporters to send money to his PAC and not to the regular GOP outlets such as the Republican National Committee. (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/09/trump-tells-donors-to-give-him-money-not-republicans-in-name-only.html))

The third consequence is that Democrats are remarkably unified, at the moment.  The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) fundraising is off to a strong start: “The DNC fundraised $8.5 million in February and $18.4 million since the beginning of the year, which is a blistering start for the Democrats in a non-presidential election year… According to the DNC, 67 percent of the funds it raised came from small donors, meaning people who gave $200 or less.”

At his March 25th press conference, President Biden was asked if he expected to run against Trump in 2024 responded: “Oh, come on. I don’t even think about – I have no idea… I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you?”  Perhaps Biden was musing that in 2024 the Republican Party will split and Trump will run on the MAGA ticket.  The Grand Old Party is suffering from moral cancer and refuses to acknowledge this.