Win or lose, Trump will still have grip on Republican Party

Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK -- Whether or not President Donald Trump wins reelection, his hold on the Republican Party will endure for years to come, supporters and opponents within the GOP agree.

Trump has led grassroots opinion on several hot-button issues, turned even elected officials who recoiled from him in 2016 into faithful supporters in 2019 and sidelined influential conservative critics.

He owes part of his success to his ingrained popularity among Republican voters, whose fervent loyalty hasn't flagged, even as his actions and behavior shock the Washington establishment. A mid-August poll from Gallup put his approval among Republican voters at 88%, essentially unchanged since Inauguration Day.

Jim McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who is working with Trump's reelection campaign, said the polls show he has moved grassroots opinion against free trade while foregrounding opposition to immigration that wasn't well represented among the party establishment a few years ago. He doesn't see any of that changing soon.

"His shadow will be cast over the Republican Party, just like Ronald Reagan," he said.

Polls show Republican support for tariffs, a border wall and Russia have increased under Trump, while concern about the deficit has fallen.


But they also show a change at a deeper level. A recent poll from the University of Southern California Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times found that 47% of Republican voters said the GOP should "become more populist, stressing issues like strong borders, protecting jobs from foreign competition and standing tough against crime and social disorder."

Only 25% wanted to see the party return to a more traditional focus on fiscal responsibility and pro-business policies.

Trump has also reshaped the outlook of the party's elected officials.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who chastised Trump for "textbook" racism and did not defend him after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape weeks before the 2016 election, has been replaced as House Republican leader by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose pinned tweet is a photograph of him with Trump aboard Air Force One.


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