Trump’s Support is Down

Signs and portents?

Source: The White House

The NYT reports: Half of G.O.P. Voters Ready to Leave Trump Behind, Poll Finds

As Donald J. Trump weighs whether to open an unusually early White House campaign, a New York Times/Siena College poll shows that his 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.

I mean, kinda. He still has the most support, almost by a factor of two, although sure, less than 50% is not where he would want to be.

Beyond the table above, his position is pretty strong:

Should Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Trump face off in a primary, the poll suggested that support from Fox News could prove crucial: Mr. Trump held a 62 percent to 26 percent advantage over Mr. DeSantis among Fox News viewers, while the gap between the two Floridians was 16 points closer among Republicans who mainly receive their news from another source.

A number of interrelated thoughts occur about the numbers/story (in no particular order).

  1. As always: these polls are hypothetical contests outside the conduct of campaigns, and years before any vote can be cast–it makes them less than perfect predictors of the future.
  2. This story immediately made me think of James Joyner’s post about a similar poll about Biden from yesterday.
  3. The country is in a bad mood right now (see the above-linked post from James). It is therefore no surprise that a bunch of folks want change.
  4. It is worth remembering that Trump lost his re-election bid. This tends to be a poor position for American politicians, so in many ways, it should not be a surprise that some chunk of the GOP electorate would want someone else.
  5. Trump, like Biden, is no spring chicken. As such, again, it is no surprise that many might want a younger version.
  6. It is worth reminding everyone that Trump did not have majority support of GOP voters in the 2016 primaries (he won only a plurality of the votes) and so it should not be surprising that some GOP voters now would favor a different candidate (especially over two years out).

Given that list above (especially the Biden numbers and right track/wrong track numbers), I would caution against reading too much in these numbers (such as the notion that the hearings are penetrating GOP voter circles). I mean, maybe, but this is not enough in my view to draw conclusions (despite what the article does in its first few paragraphs).

Beyond the polling, the NYT piece is a bunch of anecdotes that appear to have been generated by the NYT Pitchbot.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2024, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    A year ago it was a foregone conclusion that if TFG wanted the 24 nomination, it was his, that’s not true any longer. He may end up with the nomination but the path to get their won’t be a cakewalk and it may be dependent on whether the party pros consolidate around one or two alternatives rather than a dozen, who keep hanging on hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Essentially repeating the parties missteps from 16.

    3
  2. Michael Cain says:

    Gov. Abbott of Texas has to be absolutely crushed that he’s not included in the list.

    3
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Beyond the polling, the NYT piece is a bunch of anecdotes that appear to have been generated by the NYT Pitchbot.

    It’s funny how much of the twitterverse Doug J has infiltrated.

    5
  4. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Look at it this way: If DeSantis gets the Republican nomination, Trump will form the MAGA Party, and thus ensure a Democratic win in 2024.

    7
  5. MarkedMan says:

    I think the “below 50%” is quite significant. When a politician is a well known entity, polling under 50% is a real danger sign. The ones who are less known have a much larger upside potential.

    1
  6. Scott says:

    @Michael Cain: Greg Abbott’s approval rating in Texas is only 43%. People are not happy with him in Texas. Unfortunately, he will probably be reelected.

    2
  7. @MarkedMan: On the one hand, yes. On the other, it worked in 2016 (again, the GOP nomination rules favor a candidate who can win a plurality).

  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You are right and I wasn’t clear what I meant by “significant”. As you say, primaries are plurality based, so even 35 or 40% could be a winner if there are a couple of other viable candidates. I was really pointing out that it is significant that Trump, who regularly had Republican approval ratings in the 90’s when he was President, now is struggling to reach 50% in the “we want him back” race. Like I pointed out, Republican voters know Trump and have an opinion on him already. The fact that for so many that opinion is “not again!” is significant, although it certainly wouldn’t rule out him winning anyway in a plurality. But I think a weak win would be much more significant in the general than the primary.

    But now that you got me thinking, while primary races are individually a plurality, the national race as a whole is a bit of an odd duck. The first 10-15 states usually pick the winner, and a lot of the dynamic in those early states seems to be a testing of the front runner to see if they are as strong as they appear. If Trump were to win in most of them, but only weakly, and lose outright in several of them, I think it could signal a real shift. If that were to happen, I predict he would angrily drop out before the end, and claim the elections were rigged. Then, if only to keep fundraising, he would form his own party.

    Nothing would make me happier than that, so however unlikely it may be it’s still worth thinking about it, if only for the sheer deliciousness.

    2
  9. Scott F. says:

    Let’s be careful not to lose sight of the minority rule threat. Nikki Haley’s flavor of authoritarianism isn’t going to be any better for the democracy than Trump’s. Might be worse, if she is able to charm some Never-Trumpers back into the GOP.

    5
  10. James Joyner says:

    @Steven:

    This story immediately made me think of James Joyner’s post about a similar poll about Biden from yesterday.

    […]

    Beyond the polling, the NYT piece is a bunch of anecdotes that appear to have been generated by the NYT Pitchbot.

    Indeed, it’s essentially the same story using the same template: Commission a poll asking a question you’re pretty sure you know the answer to and then generate a bunch of quotes from random yahoos that purport to be explanation.

    6
  11. CSK says:

    Trump had a major meltdown over the NYT report:

    http://www.rawstory.com/trump-new-york-times-poll/

  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    That would be wonderful. TFG is probably the only pol that could mount a credible third party challenge. He has enough supporters in every state that, where possible, could get him on the ballot. It would guarantee a Dem president and likely fracture the R’s for a while.

    1
  13. Scott F. says:

    @CSK & @Sleeping Dog:

    Trump will form the MAGA Party

    Forming a new party is hard work. Trump doesn’t do hard work. If it will require more than rallies and off-brand tweets from him, I don’t expect it to happen.

    3
  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott F.:

    Forming a new party is hard work. Trump doesn’t do hard work.

    Very true, but only if your intent is to succeed. Trump’s modus operandi since he went bankrupt and lost all of his father’s money in the 80’s is to start up some grandiose scheme, find suckers to invest, skim off the money, and let it fail. He basically saw “The Producers” and took it as an action plan. His latest example is Truth Social. Remember that?

    In the case of a new party, substitute “donors” for “investors”, but the scam will be the same.

    4
  15. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    The best the Non-MAGA Republicans can hope for is that something happens to Trump to knock him out of contention before 2024.

  16. CSK says:

    @Scott F.:
    Sure it’s hard work. But I don’t think that matters to Trump. I don’t think it’s occurred to Trump. Hell, I don’t think it even matters to Trump. All he has to do is hold constant rallies and urge people to write his name in on the ballot. If he lumbers around the country bellowing “MAGA! MAGA! MAGA!,” he could be a real spoiler.

    2
  17. Kathy says:

    I’m reminded of a very early Simpson’s episode where the people in the neighborhood are putting together a crime watch group. Flanders offers to lead, and:

    Crowd: Flanders! Flanders!
    Flanders: Of course, I don’t have any experience an-
    Crowd: Someone else! Someone else!
    Homer: I’m someone else!
    Lenny: He’s right!
    Crowd: Homer! Homer!

    8
  18. charon says:

    @Scott F.:

    Trump doesn’t do hard work.

    So his minions will do the hard work for him.

    1
  19. Lounsbury says:

    @MarkedMan: The fairly pathetic performance of that demarche would rather suggest his lack of focus and organisational capacity dooms it from a political point of view – the new party that is, however you have put your finger on a key item, the income side – milking the suckers. Plus as @CSK: suggested, he loves adoration so a rallies based effort

    This time unlike 2016 however, one should expect that right from day 1 the knives will be out for him – De Santis etc – this not being non-MAGA true, but intra MAGA knife-fight. DeSantis strikes one as a competent backstabber. Unlike 2016 when as memory serves the intra-fight first concentrated on Bush the Jounger…

    Perhaps Mr Musk is giving a pre-view on this.

    1
  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Lounsbury: I would contend that Truth Social has fulfilled its purposes perfectly. The organizers went from SPAC to Truth Social so fast you have to suspect there was no actual interval of “currently searching for viable acquisitions”, I.e, the intent from the start was to fund Truth Social. I don’t know how much they paid Trump to use his name but it was worth every penny. They raised 1.4B from suckers in no time. Then Truth Social launched. Take a look at their website. Take a look at their advertising. Are they spending big bucks for celebrity influencers. They have the look and feel of a startup with a $10-20M nut, certainly nowhere near $1.4B as an initial round. Where did the $1.38B go? Not into Trump’s pocket. He gets his licensing money up front. I would guess he got $15-25M. That is a huge deal to him. Most of his building naming deals generated a couple of million a year, tops.

    1
  21. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    If DeSantis gets the Republican nomination, Trump will form the MAGA Party, and thus ensure a Democratic win in 2024.

    I think he’s too lazy and broke to go that route, though I’m sure he’d keep it on the table as a veiled threat, just like in 2016. In any case, as a third-party candidate he would almost certainly get far fewer votes than either the Republican or Democrat–he’d be lucky to reach the territory of Perot. It’s questionable he’d be willing to subject himself to that. As much as he’d try to spin it, he’d still be a loser in that scenario, and everyone would realize it.

    The power of Trump’s cult status has always been overstated due to his being propped up by the GOP. How quickly we forget that in 2016, he didn’t win an absolute majority in any primary until nearly three months in, by which time he’d already accumulated enough delegates that he was mathematically unstoppable except through a contested convention. He got by through a combination of a heavily divided field (unprecedentedly large up to that point) and a winner-take-all system for allocating delegates. When he made that much-quoted remark about not losing support if he shot someone on 5th Avenue, the context everyone seems to forget is that he was talking about his support in relation to other Republicans like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. At that point, “his support” was nothing more than about one-third of the Republican primary electorate–a tiny, tiny slice of the American public at large. His support expanded to its current levels only after he became the Republican nominee–and eventually president–and the GOP and partisan-aligned media decided to get behind him, realizing it was their only hope of gaining and maintaining power. When we talk about the ~46% of the electorate in his pocket, a lot of those weren’t part of the original Trump cult. Many of them are just Republicans who vote Republican, and have been groomed by the media they consume to see Trump in a positive light, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’d follow him right out of the party, or even prefer him to any other Republican who comes along.

    His relationship with the party has always been symbiotic–they may need him, but he also needs them. And I think that at some level, he realizes it. Which is among the reasons why I don’t think he’d seriously form that MAGA party.

    What is likely to happen if he loses the GOP nomination is that he’d refuse to endorse the nominee, or do it so half-heartedly it would be effectively an anti-endorsement (we know he’ll accuse his rival of cheating). And if he sees that outcome coming soon enough, he simply won’t run. He’d realize he’d have more power as kingmaker than as king.

    1
  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: The non-MAGA Republiqans (assuming there are such entities–a dubious proposition) probably should not have their hopes buoyed by the fact that the poll’s second choice is DeSantis. It’s like being done with Lenin and moving on to Stalin in 1930s Russia. The poll shows that FG is losing his luster, but that MAGA–and it’s accompanying evils/excesses–is not.

    The most telling quality about the poll is that it represents a sort of a declining “least qualified to hold the office of President” ranking system. Each less popular candidate–until you get to Pompeo–is slightly less worse for the nation than the previous one. As a measure of political attitude toward government and governance, it shows that the GQP has not changed one iota from what it was when FG came down on the escalator.

    1
  23. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    These are good points, and if Trump were reasonable and rational, I’d agree completely. But he’s not. In any case, if his MAGA Party (meaning he) lost, he’d have another opportunity to scream incessantly about fraud.

    He’s too needful of the spotlight to be content with being a kingmaker. He has to be king.

  24. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’ve no clue if Benito can contest in court every lost primary, but I’m sure he’ll threaten to do just that. Also, we all know that at the convention Mike Pence can refuse to accept any slate of delegates not to his liking.

    More seriously, he may demand states where he lost to five him their delegates anyway. Benito El Cheeto is not the leader of the GOP and he knows it.

    He’s the king of the Republican party.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    if Trump were reasonable and rational

    As I’ve said for years, the single most important thing to know about Trump is that he is a moron.

    1
  26. Kathy says:

    As to running on his own independent party, I’m sure El Cheeto figures he can have his donors buy him an existing party. Probably not the Libertarians, but one of those fringe, nutcase far right parties that are surely out there somewhere.

    He can then promise to pay someone else, or various someone elses, to do all the work, and then not pay because they lost him the election.

    IMO, an independent trumpian run might be the best case scenario for the world. Ideally, this keeps him from winning the general election (again), and keeps some other would-be GQP autocrat from winning as well. But there’s a risk.

    Much as I hate to say this, there’s a chance Benito could score some significant electoral votes in a third-party run. This is not unprecedented. In 1968 Wallace (speaking of would-be autocrats), took 46 EVs in five states. This time the general election should be closer. There is therefore a chance no one scores 270 EVs, and the House decides the election. We know how that would go.

  27. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Indeed he is. But…he has the kind of survivor cunning that’s a by-product of complete amorality.

    3
  28. KM says:

    @charon:
    This. All his minions and fanboys need to do is push the write-in idea. Parrot it in the ecosphere and spread conspiracy nonsense about his rivals being secret Dems or whatever. A fraction of QAnon and the MAGA circle would be enough to ruin it all for the GOP

    A narcissist like Trump won’t care if he doesn’t win as long as everyone he hates loses more then he does. He’ll continue to be MAGA King in Exile at Mar-a-lago with the suckups (there will always be some) and gleeful watch DeSantis’ career go down in flames. Sure the libs would win but he just trots out the Big Lie to explain how those cheating cheaters stole the election again like they always do, give me money!! He doesn’t need the whole cult, just enough to damage any future successor from usurping his throne while he’s still around.

    MAGA was never meant to survive Trump or grow beyond him. He’ll burning it all down before letting a younger, smarter version of him take the Oval Office…. and he’s still got enough matches to do that.

    2
  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    As to running on his own independent party, I’m sure El Cheeto figures he can have his donors buy him an existing party

    There was a beautiful scam pulled off by the professional campaign managers that sorta did exactly that. Various aspects of the H Ross Perot campaigns led to the formation of the Reform Party, and his followers enthusiasm and his personal contributions left it with an unusually larger treasure chest. The professionals, seeing that, swept into what was essentially an amateur operation and used their overwhelming expertise to get their own guy nominated. They then looted the treasury, spending all kinds of money hiring their own consulting and production agencies on efforts that made no political sense, but maximized the amount that would enter their own pockets.

    Interestingly, what made this so easy was a “common sense reform” that Ross Perot insisted on. Like Bernie Sanders, he continued to seethe with resentment over how the Party bosses had cheated him out of his justified win, and so the bylaws of the Reform Party were written so that Party officials had no say, only primary voters. Even if Party officials understood what the pros were doing, they were helpless to stop it. Sanders has ensured the Democratic Party is in the same boat.

    1
  30. steve says:

    Meh. He is still way ahead for the primary which I think he wins. All of these “I dont support Trump” will vote for him in the general. Once a cultie always a cultie.

    Steve

    2
  31. Lounsbury says:

    @MarkedMan: Not yet. The SPAC transaction is not yet complete. Do not pre-count the transaction before the legal financial closing. The same error was made by people who were wailing and gnashing teeth over Musk “buying Twitter.” The Federal subpeonas delivered two weeks ago rather are a problem for a public transaction. There is quite the decent chance it is a dead-man walking as a transaction. Pre-counting the money may be what they are doing, but it has not yet closed and is in serious danger.

  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Lounsbury: Fair enough. But I still am willing to bet dollars to nickels that Trump got his fee upfront and it is no way tied to the greater enterpise’s success or failure.

    1
  33. Lounsbury says:

    @MarkedMan: Yes, I am sure if there was any cash to extract up-front, that indeed Trump tried for it. It is one of his branding rent-extraction schemes in the end. I doubt he got very much up-front on the the Truth Social. His scamming the Political is probably his best current cash flow of this nature.

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    Repeating an earlier comment: we need to push every aspiring Republican candidate to answer this question: if elected, would you pardon Trump and the other January 6 coup plotters. We need activists to show up at rallies, campaign events, official events, and keep it up til the MSM joins in.

  35. Michael Cain says:

    @Kathy:

    As to running on his own independent party, I’m sure El Cheeto figures he can have his donors buy him an existing party.

    Yet another indicator of how clueless he is. He needs to be on the ballot on enough states. The Libertarians, who are the best of the non-major parties at doing the paperwork, often fail to get their candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

  36. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain:
    So? The MAGAs will write his name on the ballot.

  37. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Oh come on. You’re making Benito sound like that guy who bought the very profitable Eastern Airlines Shuttle and managed to lose money on it!

  38. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Yet another indicator of how clueless he is. He needs to be on the ballot on enough states. The Libertarians, who are the best of the non-major parties at doing the paperwork, often fail to get their candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

    It’s not like he doesn’t have experience with this.

  39. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Yet another indicator of how clueless he is. He needs to be on the ballot on enough states. The Libertarians, who are the best of the non-major parties at doing the paperwork, often fail to get their candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

    “The best of a sad lot” isn’t exactly a high bar. 🙂

    But Trump, unlike the LP, has name recognition. I’m sure he could sucker enough people to do the work and get the signatures.

  40. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    More importantly, he’ll have people in each state that can run the ballot petition operation.

  41. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    I’m still annoyed about that.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain: Actually, in NY at least, it is sorta possible to buy a party. There are a few parties that make it on the ballot every time because a) they got the minimum votes in the last election, and here’s the important bit, b) they have a name that is attractive to a certain type of Republican or Democrat currently dissatisfied with their party. I don’t remember the names exactly but they are like “The American Independent Party” or “The Conservative party” and so forth. They appear to be operated by a certain group of political professionals and they also appear to sell their cross endorsement in close elections. Say the governor’s race is going to be close, or a US Senate race. “The Conservative party” will cross endorse the Republican candidate in exchange for a “contribution” to their campaign costs, which is spent on consultant firms they own. On years when it won’t matter and so no contribution, they run someone who looks like the kind of candidate such voters would like.

    I suppose this racket is repeated in every state and someone with enough money and enough smarts (so not Trump) could string together a full slate.

  43. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..I don’t remember the names exactly but they are like “The American Independent Party” or “The Conservative party” and so forth.

    Politics 1
    AMERICAN INDEPENDENT PARTY – Governor George Wallace (D-AL) founded the AIP and ran as the its first Presidential nominee in 1968.
    CONSERVATIVE PARTY USA – Founded in 2009, this conservative party has yet to field any candidates.

    This site lists 41 third parties including:

    PATRIOT PARTY – In his final days in office, President Trump floated the idea of leaving the Republican Party and creating a new entity – the Patriot Party – as the new home for his nationalist populist ideology, and his MAGA and QAnon supporters. Various self-proclaimed “Patriot Party” entities immediately sprang to life. Trump’s official political organization in January 2021 disavowed all these nascent Patriot Party groups as unauthorized and unaffiliated with Trump. A month later, Trump said he had no intention of creating a separate party to compete against the Republicans, but instead intended to target anti-Trump Republicans in GOP primaries. This didn’t stop one MAGA group from creating an unofficial national group, and others from launching various self-organized state parties.

  44. wr says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “More importantly, he’ll have people in each state that can run the ballot petition operation”

    And they’ll be only the best people!!!

    2
  45. Michael Cain says:

    @CSK:

    So? The MAGAs will write his name on the ballot.

    In at least several states, write-ins are not allowed at all. Mine requires that a least a minimum of paperwork be properly filed, on time, with the appropriate fees. The deadline here for “on time” is before the dates when the Republicans normally hold their national convention.

  46. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain:
    That won’t stop them.

  47. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: That won’t work here. South Carolina doesn’t allow write-ins for President (although they are permitted for all other elections). Worthy of note: Our governor, Disaster McMaster, went to a DeSantis conclave in the last few days. I’m sure McMaster has a wet finger held constantly in the wind.

  48. Tony W says:

    If he doesn’t win the R nomination, what about liberals forming a party and nominating Trump for their ballot in key swing states?

    I don’t know election law well, does he have to cooperate in order to be on the ballot?

  49. Kylopod says:

    @Tony W:

    If he doesn’t win the R nomination, what about liberals forming a party and nominating Trump for their ballot in key swing states?

    Ha! Now that is an interesting idea. I have no idea whether it’s legally possible.

    The thing is, Repubs could attempt the same thing in the other direction–like creating a fake Progressive Party with Bernie Sanders as the nominee. It sounds a bit similar to one of the dirty tricks Orban has used to remain in power, creating fake parties to split the opposition.