This is the most encouraging 2024 poll that the GOP’s Trump-hesitant and anti-Trump factions have seen since January, at least.
Which is not to say that it’s especially encouraging. It’s a safe bet that most of the 44 percent who want him to run again would also prefer him in a Republican primary. Which means any hypothetical challenger would need to win nearly the entirety of the remaining 56 percent of undecideds. Good luck trying to do that against the most famous person in the world, who also has a small-donor money machine boosting him.
The takeaway here isn’t that Trump would lose a primary, it’s that after six years Trump fatigue may be setting in even among the GOP. With even many on the right ambivalent about him, especially centrists, he might be easy pickings for a solid Democratic candidate if he were to be nominated a third time.
Luckily for him, there are no solid Democratic candidates available. He’ll face either 82-year-old Joe Biden or the relentlessly underwhelming Kamala Harris. At worst, he has a 50/50 chance of being president again.
But if he does get reelected, larger numbers of Republicans won’t be thrilled about it according to Pew:
Nearly a third of the party wants him to retreat from politics. That’s far more than I’d have guessed, as polls on Trump typically show somewhere between 15-25 percent of Republicans having soured on him. Like I say, maybe Trump fatigue is growing.
I can’t imagine why.
Yesterday, Donald Trump claimed, "the real insurrection…took place on November 3rd, not on January 6th." pic.twitter.com/n6haiEIUDW
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) October 6, 2021
On the other hand, Pew notes that the share of GOPers who want him to remain a major figure in politics has *grown* since January, from 57 percent to 67 percent. The immediate fallout from the insurrection seems to have knocked his support down a bit that month, and now he’s recovered somewhat.
The number from this poll that’ll jump out at Republican establishmentarians is the split among college grads here:
The GOP used to clean up among well-educated professionals but the rising influence of Trump and his white working-class base over the party has led to a shift towards Democrats among college grads. Pew’s graph shows that 70 percent of Republicans and leaners who graduated from college either want him out of politics or want him to support someone else in 2024 instead of running himself. The obvious move to hold onto those disgruntled voters in 2024 and to claw back ones who have crossed the aisle would be to nominate a candidate like Ron DeSantis who has enough populist culture-war cred to satisfy MAGA voters while also attracting college grads with his more traditional Republican persona and Ivy League background.
But the populists call the tune in a national Republican primary and the populists seem to prefer Trump. Ask Nikki Haley. She knows:
Nikki Haley trying to walk a line that can't be walked. pic.twitter.com/ChJlNhpmZZ
— David Frum (@davidfrum) October 4, 2021
Pew’s poll isn’t the only one recently to show Republicans ambivalent about renominating Trump. When you poll him against various specific primary challengers he leads by huge margins, but that’s due in part to the fact that some contenders (DeSantis, Haley, Kristi Noem) are largely unknown to national audiences. When you ask Republicans instead whether they think the party would improve its chances in 2024 by nominating him again, the response is murkier:
That’s trending in the wrong direction since 2019. (How could it not after he lost a national election?) My guess is that it’ll continue to trend that way as Republicans spend the next three years being reminded week by week of how much unnecessary drama bringing the Trump circus back to town would create:
The former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other top aides subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack are expected to defy orders for documents and testimony related to 6 January, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The move to defy the subpoenas would mark the first major investigative hurdle faced by the select committee and threatens to touch off an extended legal battle as the former president pushes some of his most senior aides to undercut the inquiry…
[I]ncreasingly concerned with the far-reaching nature of the 6 January investigation, Trump and his legal team, led by the ex-Trump campaign lawyer Justin Clark the former deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin, are moving to instruct the attorneys for the subpoenaed aides to defy the orders.
For hardcore Trumpists, having him at war with the January 6 committee will only deepen their commitment to renominating him as the ultimate middle finger to the libs. For everyone else, it’ll deepen their exhaustion with Trump and leave them wondering why they can’t have someone like DeSantis who’ll cut their taxes and otherwise stay out of their headspace day to day.
But since it’s the first group that decides primaries, not the second, I guess the circus is coming back after all.
One last data point from Pew. When asked whether they’re very or somewhat accepting of criticism of Joe Biden, 57 percent of Democrats say yes. When Republicans are asked the same about Trump, just 37 percent say so. Democrats are a broad coalition with some meaningful policy differences and they follow an uncharismatic leader, which makes them more tolerant of criticism of him. Republicans are more homogeneous, don’t have much of a policy agenda nationally, and follow a highly charismatic leader who demands personal loyalty as a partisan litmus test. Go figure that they’re less open to knocks on the top guy.