A poll by a well-rated pollster finds that “GOP voters have soured on Donald Trump, as has the majority of the country,” notes conservative David Strom at Hot Air.
By 2-1, GOP and GOP-leaning voters now say they want Trump’s policies but a different standard-bearer to carry them. While 31% want the former president to run, 61% prefer some other Republican nominee who would continue the policies Trump has pursued.
They have a name in mind: Two-thirds of Republicans and those inclined to vote Republican want Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president. By double digits, 56% to 33%, they prefer DeSantis over Trump.
“Republicans and conservative independents increasingly want Trumpism without Trump,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
As Strom observes, “That’s a huge drop for Trump, and a huge bump for DeSantis.” But this does not signify a return to business as usual in the GOP: “Republicans have embraced the Trump agenda, but just don’t see Trump as the standard bearer who can get it done. It’s pretty hard to argue that he can when the same poll shows that Trump would lose badly to Joe Biden, but DeSantis would handily win the same race.”
As USA Today notes,
Among all voters, Trump has fallen further behind President Joe Biden in a hypothetical head-to-head. Now, Biden would win a general-election matchup by 47% to 40%. (Because of the effects of rounding, Biden’s margin is a bit wider than that indicates, at 7.8 points.) In October, Biden also led but by a narrower margin, 46%-42%. …
While Biden now leads Trump, he trails DeSantis in a head-to-head race, with DeSantis at 47%, Biden at 43%.
The Florida governor, who last month sailed to a second term in the Sunshine State, has significant standing nationwide. Two-thirds of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, 65%, want him to run for president in 2024. Just 24% hope he doesn’t.
He is much more isolated and besieged than he has been in the past. He has never excelled at developing a circle of advisors–he has been uniquely awful picking aides–but now he has lost the most competent of them and is surrounded by 3rd tier players. Ivanka, a smart and capable advisor, doesn’t support his political ambitions, leaving him nobody to keep him grounded. The result is that the always hyperbolic Trump now appears unhinged to the majority of people. Every time he speaks he loses support.
As always, most of the criticism leveled at him is grossly unfair, but the difference today is that people are tired of defending him. Just enough of the criticism hits close to home–nobody wants to defend Ye or Nick Fuentes because they are awful–and Trump keeps forcing people to make excuses. It is a losing battle.
You can see the result–Trump loses badly to Biden, but DeSantis wins pretty handily. And since DeSantis is smart, articulate, competent, and fights our battles, it is a no brainer to support him. Hence the poll numbers.
Trump has also been harmed by the 2022 election results, which made him look like a loser. Trump endorsed candidates who won Republican primaries due to his endorsement, but then went on to lose elections in the very same states that other non-Trump endorsed Republicans won in a landslide.
In 114 competitive House races, Trump-endorsed Republican candidates underperformed by 5 percentage points while those who weren’t Trump-endorsed overperformed by 2.2 points, calculated Phillip Wallach of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Trump-endorsed candidates tend to lose in the general election if they run in Congressional districts that have similar numbers of Democrats and Republicans. That’s partly because independents tend to dislike the sort of Republicans Trump prefers. Some independents also hold against a candidate the fact that he was endorsed by Trump. This is a problem for the GOP, because most Americans are either independents or Democrats, not Republicans who love Trump. Wallach says Trump weighed down Republican candidates, allowing the Democrats to win key races for seats in Congress.
In Arizona, Republicans endorsed by Donald Trump lost the races for governor and senator. But Trump didn’t make any endorsement in one statewide race — the race for state treasurer. That was the one race where the Republican candidate won in a landslide. Kimberly Yee got 55.7% of the vote. As a reporter for the Arizona Republic notes, “If Arizona Republicans want to know where their party went wrong just look at state Treasurer Kimberly Yee. She’s the Republican who won — the one who wasn’t endorsed by Donald Trump.”
Meanwhile, Trump-backed Blake Masters lost his bid to unseat U.S. Senator Mark Kelly (D), by a 5% margin. And Trump-backed Kari Lake lost the governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, even though Hobbs was a weak and inept candidate who was afraid even to debate Lake. Lake managed to lose even though Arizona has had a Republican governor for the last 14 years, and a Republican won the governor’s race handily in 2018, even though Democrats came out to vote in droves, because independents preferred Republican Governor Doug Ducey. Both Masters and Lake antagonized some Arizona voters by claiming that Trump won the 2020 election, in which Biden managed to carry Arizona by a narrow margin. Voters also rejected the GOP Secretary of State candidate who denied Biden won Arizona. He lost by a 5% margin, as Arizona voters chose to elect a staunch leftist instead, to oversee the state’s elections.
In Arizona’s elections for the U.S. House of Representatives, in which Trump took little interest, Republicans won six of the nine seats, unseating two Democratic incumbents. Democrat Kirsten Engel was ousted by Republican Juan Ciscomani, who did not claim to voters that Trump won the 2020 election. Ciscomani is a staunch conservative who promised to battle the “radical left,” secure the border, protect the Second Amendment, vote against federal spending increases, oppose Critical Race Theory, and support free speech on college campuses.
In Georgia, a “right-wing Republican,” Governor Brian Kemp, was easily reelected despite signing into law an unpopular ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Kemp has publicly acknowledged that Donald Trump failed to carry the state of Georgia in the 2020 election. Trump has never forgiven Kemp for saying that Trump lost Georgia, although it happens to be true. Trump opposed Kemp in the 2022 Republican Primary for governor, which Kemp won handily.
The conservative National Review says that “Trump is a loser. He squeaked past the most unpopular woman in America in 2016, he presided over a blue wave in 2018, he lost to a barely breathing Joe Biden in 2020, and he hand-picked a bevy of losing Republican nominees in 2022.”
In Pennsylvania, Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz lost the Senate election to left-wing Democrat John Fetterman, even though Fetterman was seriously impaired by a stroke. Trump endorsed Oz in the Republican primary, which was a strange choice because Oz was very unpopular and trailed Fetterman in the polls, unlike David McCormick, Oz’s more conservative competitor in the Republican primary, who led Fetterman in the polls. Trump’s endorsement of Oz was decisive in the primary, but harmful to him in the general election. Oz had been trailing McCormick in the Republican primary race before Trump’s endorsement, but Oz won the primary by a minuscule 0.1% of the vote after Trump endorsed him.
The conservative New York Post, which endorsed Trump in the 2016 and 2020 general elections, says that “What Tuesday night’s midterm election results suggest is that former President Donald Trump is perhaps the most profound vote repellant in modern American history.”
The liberal New York Times noted that “in 36 House races that the Cook Political Report rated as tossups, Mr. Trump endorsed just five Republicans. Each one lost on Tuesday.”