Growing number of Republicans view Trump unfavourably and want new leadership for GOP, poll finds

Trump’s effect on the GOP’s midterm results has not gone unnoticed by voters

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 02 December 2022 20:41 GMT
Election 2024 Republicans
Election 2024 Republicans (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Republican voters appear to be shifting their gaze from Donald Trump as new polling shows the twice-impeached ex-president remaining at the centre of GOP politics was a significant motivating factor for voters who turned out for Democrats in last month’s midterm elections.

A survey of 1,160 registered voters obtained by The Independent reveals that the attention still given to Mr Trump and his self-styled “Make America Great Again” movement a full two years after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden helped drive voters to the polls with the intent of stopping his allies from winning offices at the state and federal level.

The poll, which was conducted by WPA Intelligence — a conservative firm favoured by GOP mainstays such as Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee — found that a whopping 88 per cent of Democratic voters said they cast their votes with an eye toward “stopping Maga extremists”. Of that 88 per cent, a full 74 per cent responded that stopping the Maga candidates was “very important” to how they voted.

Democratic voters who came out last month were also significantly more energised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 8 August search of Mr Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida home than the GOP voters who responded to the survey. A full 35 per cent of Democratic voters said the search was “very important” to them, while the number of Republicans who said the same about the search was just 22 per cent.

The intense focus on the search in its immediate aftermath by Republican candidates and Mr Trump himself may have done the GOP a disservice by turning out more Democrats to the polls, and the survey results appear to be a sign that the ability of Mr Trump to drive voter behavior through a relentless focus on his own grievances may be on the wane.

Survey respondents also delivered strong indicators that Mr Trump’s grip on the GOP could finally be slipping just as the ex-president is gearing up to mount a third campaign for the White House in the 2024 election.

Although a full 70 per cent of GOP voters still have a favourable view of Mr Trump, nearly a full third of voters who turned out for Republican candidates last month view him unfavourably now. That includes 33 per cent of self-described “Reagan Republicans” or “Traditional Republicans” as well as 34 per cent of Fox News viewers.

And half of the self-described “traditional” or “Reagan” GOP voters said it’s time for Mr Trump to stand down as de facto leader of the GOP. Among all Republican voters, that number is slightly fewer at 40 per cent, but it still represents a significant number of GOP voters and the most opposed to Mr Trump since he won the presidency in 2016.

Moreover, a full 64 per cent of all voters — including 60 per cent of those who voted for Republicans last month — blame the ex-president for the poor showing by GOP candidates in the midterms. Among voters who said they split their tickets by voting for a GOP governor and a Democratic senatorial candidate (or visa-versa), Mr Trump’s favourability rating is an extremely low -64 per cent.

Amanda Iovino, a principal at the polling firm, said the myriad controversies that Mr Trump is involved in “turned off many GOP voters, Independents, and split-ticket voters who may have otherwise backed Republicans” last month.

She also said GOP candidates’ “focus on the past rather than the future of the Republican Party contributed to the GOP’s disappointing performance in the midterms”.

The lacklustre polling result for Mr Trump is just the latest bit of bad news for the ex-president and comes just one week after he garnered widespread condemnation by breaking bread with disgraced rapper and notorious antisemite Kanye West, white nationalist activist Nick Fuentes, and well-known racist troll and ex-Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopolous.

West, a longtime friend and ally of the former president, sparked yet more outrage on Thursday by repeatedly praising the late genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler in an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Mr Trump has not yet commented on his dinner guest’s praise for the man who oversaw the Holocaust during the Second World War.

The one prominent GOP figure who does not appear to have been negatively affected by Mr Trump’s drag on the GOP is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

While Mr Trump’s unfavourable ratings heavily outweigh the number of voters who view him favourably, the survey found that Mr DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has a +7 favourability rating, besting both his potential primary rival as well as Mr Biden, whose rating stands at -21 among ticket-splitters.

Spokespersons for Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Independent.

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