Expect Never Trumpers to re-emerge from the woodwork just as they did in 2020, attempting to discredit the former President and argue that Trump lacks “electability” and should be replaced by a more centrist candidate. What they are really saying is a candidate who can be more readily controlled.
Anti-Trump sentiment is already brewing in the legislative branch as the likes of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) have made it clear they want a replacement. Other GOP leaders are also echoing this sentiment. For a few brief months, anti-Trumpers appeared enamored with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but that initial interest appears to have faded.
A GOP senator spoke to The Hill anonymously saying, “many Republican senators who never liked Trump would take anybody [else], but I do think that DeSantis’s star has fallen, clearly, on the Hill”. The senator elaborated, “there was a time in November where I heard a lot of chatter from Republican senators about ‘DeSantis is pretty interesting.’ I haven’t heard him discussed [recently.]”
Globalists on both sides of the aisle know Trump is a threat to their continued reign of power and are terrified of having that control yanked back from them as it was in 2016. Mounting economic unrest, the growing possibility of serious conflict with foreign adversaries, a porous border, and rising crime are creating chaos under Biden and the public wants a change in course.
Never Trumpers who benefit from business as usual would like to roll back the nation to a Pre-Trump Republican Party beholden to globalists, lobbyists and war hawks. However, a bulk of conservatives and a growing share of swing voters support Trump-era policies including curbing immigration, reducing foreign meddling, and taking a strong stance against global powers when it comes to trade.
Trump changed the political landscape and support for his America First set of principles and willingness to focus on elevating the middle class has not fizzled out, as much as beltway hacks would like to hope it has.
The most recent Morning Consult poll shows Trump leading all other GOP contenders by double-digits, with Trump earning 57% of the vote among GOP primary contenders and DeSantis coming in second at 19%. Former Vice President Mike Pence comes in a distant third at 7%, and largely-unknown Vivek Ramaswamy earns 6%. Nikki Haley and Tim Scott earn 3%, and five other candidates earn less than that.
The same poll shows Trump beating Biden in the general election by 3 percentage points (outside of the margin of error) for the first time since Morning Consult began tracking the two in December. DeSantis, who again only has the support of a fifth of GOP primary voters, is shown losing to Biden by two percentage points.
It is still early, and the margins are close when looking at a head-to-head poll between Trump or another GOP candidate and Joe Biden, but nonetheless the numbers do not indicate Trump would be a weaker candidate, they indicate just the opposite.
We can also look at Trump and DeSantis’ favorability over time, and see that Trump has been steadily gaining, while DeSantis’ support began strong in December of last year and has declined since then. Of the candidates other than Trump or DeSantis, the only one who has seen a substantial rise is businessmen Vivek Ramaswamy, who now enjoys modest single-digit support.
Meanwhile, Trump’s support has risen steadily over the past six months. Even in DeSantis’ home state of Florida, a new Mainstreet Research poll shows Trump ahead of DeSantis by 20 percentage points 50% to 30%. In that poll, Trump does particularly well against DeSantis among Hispanics, leading the Florida Governor by a full 39 percentage points among Hispanic voters. Trump also polls very well with low-income voters, coming out a full 42 percentage points ahead of DeSantis among voters earning less than $20,000 a year.
Polling earlier this year by CNN/SSRS found that restoring the policies of the Trump Administration is important to 85% of likely Republican primary voters, indicating that whether these voters support Trump or a someone else, the way he governed is what they expect from the GOP nominee. Forty-three percent said restoring Trump-era policies is “essential” while 41% said they are “important”. Only 15% of likely GOP voters said restoring Trump-era policies are not important.
Restoring the policies of the Trump Administration and rejecting the globalist elite agenda holds significant appeal for certain demographic groups. Specifically, women, white voters, low-income voters, and white-non-college voters exhibit a strong inclination towards this trajectory.
Among GOP primary voters, 86% of women consider it important to restore the Trump Administration’s policies, slightly surpassing the 83% of men who share the same sentiment. In terms of income, lower-income voters display a slightly higher inclination than higher-income voters towards restoring these policies, with 87% of voters earning over $50,000 expressing the importance compared to 83% of higher-income voters.
Of all the groups, white non-college voters exhibit the strongest desire to reinstate the policies of the Trump Administration, with a striking 91% considering it important. In contrast, 75% of college-educated whites share the same viewpoint.
Favorability ratings of the other GOP contenders also point to the fact that the slate of would-be Trump challengers are not coming from the positions of strength they would need to replace Trump.
A recent YouGov poll shows former Vice President Mike Pence has lower support among voters who supported Trump in 2020 than left-wing environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. does. Sixty-one percent of 2020 Trump voters hold a favorable view of Kennedy, while just 54% hold a favorable view of Pence. How is a candidate who held office along-side Trump and still can’t get his polling numbers higher than a left-wing Democrat going to make a good GOP primary pick?
Then there is Former New Jersey governor Christ Christie, who has more support from Democrats than he does within his own party. Just 27% of 2020 Trump voters hold a favorable view of Christie, while 28% of Biden 2020 voters do.
Nikki Haley arguably does better than the others, but still only 56% of 2020 Trump voters hold a favorable view of Haley, and so do 19% of Biden voters.
Tim Scott arguably polls the best, with 59% of 2020 Trump voters saying they have a favorable view of him, yet in GOP primary polling he is at about 7%.
Never Trumpers can and will use every strategy open to them to smear, attempt to imprison, and wrangle votes away from Trump. However, the argument that he is ‘unelectable’ compared to the alternatives is absurd, and following that advice is more likely to result in four more years of Joe Biden than it is to result in anything else.
Bill Wilson is the former president of Americans for Limited Government.