GOP must now navigate through Trump and Trumpism.
President Trump leaves office this week in a precarious situation.
The president was impeached last week by the House and is awaiting the start of a Senate trial over his encouragement of this month’s deadly insurrection at the Capitol by far-right extremists and Trump supporters aiming to disrupt congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
But new public opinion poll indicates that while his approval ratings have taken a hit among Americans and specifically Republicans, his sway over the party he reshaped and ruled over with near-absolute authority during his four years in the White House remains immense.
"Trump still retains incredible support from those who voted for him, but his credibility has collapsed among everyone else," veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News.
President Donald Trump turns to reporters as he exits the White House to walk toward Marine One on the South Lawn on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Following last week's deadly pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill, President Trump is making his first public appearance with a trip to the border town of Alamo, Texas to view the partial construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The president’s approval rating has dipped from the low to mid 40’s down to around 40%, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls conducted in the wake of the storming of the Capitol, which resulted in the death of five people including a Capitol Hill Police officer and widespread vandalism of the building.
Among the major national surveys taken after the attack and released in recent days, Trump stood at 43% approval in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll and 41% in a USA Today/Suffolk University survey, 38% approval in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 34% in a CNN survey, and 29% in a Pew Research poll.
But among Republicans, it’s a different story.
While Trump’s numbers among GOP voters has taken a hit, they still remain very healthy.
Trump’s approval rating among Republicans stands at a sky-high 87% in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, down just two points from October. CNN puts the outgoing president’s approval rating at 80%, down 14 points from three months ago.
Trump’s approval rating among Republicans in the ABC News/Washington Post survey remains a robust 79%, a drop of 9 points from October. And the president’s approval rating in the Pew Research poll stands at 60%, down from 77% in August of last year.
Luntz noted that "Republicans have always been the 'law and order' party. Their opinions of Trump have taken a hit because of continued focus on the events of January 6th and their embarrassment about the violence and destruction. "
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump gather near the east front door of the U.S. Capitol after groups breached the building's security on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
The attack on the Capitol came soon after the president urged a large crowd of supporters he addressed at a rally near the White House to march to the Capitol and show strength in protesting the certification of an election he’s repeatedly and falsely claimed was "rigged."
But two-thirds of Republicans questioned in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said Trump’s words and actions related to the storming of the Capitol has not changed how they feel about their vote in November for Trump, with nearly three in 10 Republicans saying it reinforces their vote for Trump, and only 5% say it makes them regret their vote.
Those sentiments seem to be reflected in the actions of GOP members of Congress. Nearly two-thirds of House Republicans — even after the joint session of Congress was delayed six hours after the attack on the Capitol — objected to certifying the Electoral College results in two states that Biden narrowly edged over Trump in the presidential election. And 197 House Republicans voted last Wednesday against impeaching Trump, with just 10 GOP lawmakers joining all 222 Democrats in voting for impeachment.
Ahead of the insurrection, Trump had vowed to play an influential role in the party going forward, threatening to back primary challenges to Republicans up for reelection in 2022 who didn’t support the president’s unsuccessful push to upend his election defeat to Biden. Trump was also flirting with a 2024 presidential run to try and win back the White House.
Now, with the possibility of being barred from running for federal office ever again if he’s convicted in the Senate impeachment trial, Trump’s future political ambitions are in a precarious state.
According to the Pew Research poll, 57% of Republicans want Trump to remain a major political figure for years to come. Four in 10 Republicans questioned in the survey disagreed.
And 55% of Republicans surveyed in the USA Today/Suffolk University poll said they would definitely vote for Trump again if he ran for president in 2024. While that’s a very strong number, it’s down from 71% of Republicans who said the same thing in December.