Can any Republican beat Trump?

The short answer: No
The Long answer:


This party hasn’t cared about ideas, competency, good governance, stability, or decency since before then-candidate Donald Trump clinched the nomination. There was a video of him admitting to sexual assault and nearly 63 million Americans went to vote for him anyway. You think a dad talk from Ben Sasse about conservative values will convince this party to abandon President Donald Trump? If you do, hit me up. I know the Prince of Nigeria and he has a bridge to sell you.

Here’s the dirty secret everyone knows, but most on our side of the aisle knows don’t want to admit: this isn’t about anything but Trump anymore. This is his show and everything is inconsequential to that. Policy, ideas, and principle are inconsequential to that. Basic decency is inconsequential to that. Winning is even inconsequential to that. The voters. The party. It doesn’t matter. They both follow the same script.

Find you a Trumpkin and you’ll almost certainly find someone who thinks the Republican Party is secretly scheming against the MAGA agenda. That was probably truer than not a little over three years ago when the Donald Trump show was just starting but at this point, the party infrastructure is all in on him now. Let me offer an example. In 2020, the South Carolina primary would be a shoo-in. In 2016, Donald Trump won a third of the votes, all but two counties and the next closest contestant was ten points behind him. Only a dozen states have a higher net approval of the President than South Carolina, according to a November 18th Morning Consult tracking poll and half of those are within three points. Any reasonable person would look at South Carolina and realize it’s a lock in the Republican Primary for Trump. The South Carolina Republican party is considering canceling their 2020 primary. Or take Senator Graham, in the same week Trump takes a shovel to Graham’s beloved interventions in Syria and Afghanistan he’s still plastering his lips to the Presidents rear end.

I would say Republican voters are even more loyal to the President than Republican politicians, but the ability of Congressional Republicans to grovel shouldn’t be underestimated. Remember, in July 2013 only 22% of Republicans thought Russia was a friend or ally, but 40% thought so in July of 2018. Similarly, about 55% of Republicans had a positive view of free trade in 2015 but only 43% do today. I’m waiting for an explanation that isn’t orange, has five letters, and starts with a T.

Recent research from Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope shows that Trumpists “behave like party loyalists by accepting the Trump cue—in either a liberal or conservative direction.” Those who got “liberal Trump” statements were more likely to support liberal policy while those who received “conservative Trump” statements were more likely to support conservative policy. This held for all ten questions and was only for Trump. Trumpists claim to be guided by principle but their loyalty “is the stronger motivator of opinion than are any ideological principles.”

Trump was right in 2016. He can stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters. But I’ll one up that. He can stand in the middle of the Oval Office and shoot somebody and not lose any voters. This is his party. The only way he isn’t reelected is if the Democrats field a competent candidate.

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