The Republican primary in New Hampshire last Tuesday confirmed the trend we’ve seen all year: the narrow dominance of populist MAGA elements within the GOP. This shows that only one Republican could deny Donald Trump the party’s 2024 presidential nomination: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Ranit State voters had a variety of options to choose from, with strong, establishment-backed conservatives competing for the state’s seat in the Senate and both Houses of Representatives. In all three cases, Republicans chose the “Trumpiest” candidate. None had the former US President’s blessing, but all nonetheless bore his implicit imprimatur, faithfully mimicking his angry style and embracing his views on issues from immigration to voter denial.
The verdict, disappointing as it is for the party establishment, merely reflects similar decisions by voters across the country. At first glance, this could be depressing for Republicans who believe it’s time to break away from Mr Trump.
But that doesn’t mean Mr Trump’s reappointment is assured. The party’s voters seem willing to entertain anyone else, so long as that person shares a similar populist emphasis and combative style. This is indicated by current data from the Republican opinion research company Echelon Insights.
Echelon’s August poll found that despite sky-high approval ratings, only 65 percent of GOP and GOP-choosy voters want Mr Trump to run again. But dig deeper and you’ll see Mr Trump’s support plummet.
Just 59 percent say they would definitely or likely support Trump in a primary if he ran, and he would win just 46 percent in a contentious primary attended by Mr. DeSantis and former US Vice President Mike Pence. In fact, 44 percent say they would vote for Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Pence or either of two well-known Trump critics, Liz Cheney and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. That’s effectively a draw before any of Mr Trump’s potential opponents have even started fighting him.
That could confuse experts if they haven’t been following intra-GOP factions very closely. Party voters now say — 48 to 41 — that they are “party-first Republican” rather than “Trump-first Republican.” Republicans leading the party have far more negative views of Mr. Trump than the other cohort, and they are even more likely to oppose him in a hypothetical matchup. Notably, in a hypothetical race with Mr. DeSantis and others, Mr. Trump receives 77 percent support from Trump-First Republicans but only 30 percent among party firsts. And 57 percent of party leaders are already opposed to Mr Trump’s reappointment.
This is encouraging news, showing that the GOP may not only be loyal to the “Mayor of Mar-a-Lago.” The data also shows why Mr. DeSantis is likely the only person who can dethrone Mr. Trump.
Mr. DeSantis is the only potential opponent who has significant support from both the party-first and Trump-first wings of the party (he receives 13 percent Trump firsts and 33 percent party firsts). Mr Pence and Ms Cheney appeal to just 3 percent of Trump firsters; Their weak standing with the MAGA base due to their rhetoric on the January 6 riots suggests they can’t improve on that.
Mr. DeSantis’ strength with Trump-first Republicans is becoming more apparent after taking Mr. Trump out of the mix. Mr. DeSantis gets 41 percent in a 2024 field without Mr. Trump, leading his closest competitors by 30 points. He does just as well among the Trump firsts (47 percent) as among the party firsts (41 percent). In contrast, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is doing much better with Trumpists, while Mr. Pence only gets double digits with party firsts.
It’s not hard to figure out why Mr. DeSantis has such credibility in the Trumpy set. His combative way of responding to media criticism endears him to those who want a fighter. His willingness to speak out on culture war issues like Critical Race Theory or “Wake Corporations” is music to populist ears. And his other positions—anti-abortion, pro-tax cuts, traditional foreign policy views—make him party leaders like him.
Republicans certainly remember the Revolutionary War adage: United we stand, divided we fall. Mr. DeSantis’ ability to unite the party’s warring wings points a way to end the GOP civil war and bring the fight home to the Democrats.
(© Washington Post)
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/florida-governor-ron-desantis-can-play-a-trump-card-to-beat-donald-in-republican-partys-presidential-race-41993106.html Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may play a Trump card to beat Donald in the Republican Party presidential race