The bad news: His favorable rating among Republicans today is a point lower than it was among Democrats on the eve of the 2012 election. Think of that. Righties are entirely correct when they point how fickle the left has been in its esteem for Romney but even the left never disliked him as much as his own party currently does because of his impeachment vote. And the overall shift in opinion of him among Republicans since 2012 is about twice as large as it is among Democrats.
The good news: If he can’t get reelected in Utah, he could always move back to Massachusetts and try to get elected as a Democrat there.
This graph is presented through the lens of “partisanship,” which makes the result feel weird, but that’s only if you think of America’s parties through the traditional frame of “Republican” and “Democrat.” If instead you think of them as the “Trump Party” and the “Anti-Trump Party,” it makes perfect sense.
Pretty clear what happened. He was naturally very popular with the GOP before the 2012 election, slipped a bit after he’d acquired the stench of “loser” following the result, then slipped a lot after he was harshly critical of Trump during the 2016 primaries. The vote to remove during Trump’s Senate trial was the last straw. For Democrats, I think Romney’s slow, slight climb from 2012 until last year was a pure function of being able to appreciate his personal decency a bit more once he was no longer an electoral threat. (George W. Bush has benefited from the same dynamic.) Then, once he voted to remove their least favorite Republican, he became their most favorite Republican.
The one quirk in the data is that Romney didn’t gain anything among Dems in 2016 despite lambasting Trump in public comments that year. Presumably that’s because the left was too busy with its own competitive primary to pay attention to the finer details on the Republican side.
Anyway, at last check his polling in Utah was a little different from his polling with Republicans nationally. He was not, in fact, censured for his removal vote by the Utah state legislature, as was initially threatened, and his visit to the state capitol 10 days ago went off without a hitch. That doesn’t mean he won’t have trouble in a primary in 2024, but clearly he’ll have less trouble in his home state than he would in most other red states, where he’d be unelectable. For the time being, the worst punishment Romney has suffered is being disinvited from CPAC and therefore being spared from exposure to coronavirus.
Speaking of Republicans who have fallen out of favor with Trump and, thus, the wider Republican base:
A week after Super Tuesday, former Auburn Tigers football coach Tommy Tuberville has a commanding lead in the Alabama primary runoff for U.S. Senate against former Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to a new poll released today by Cygnal.
The Cygnal survey, conducted March 6 – 8, with 645 likely GOP primary election voters, shows Sessions (40%) trailing Tuberville (52%) by 12 points. The runoff election will take place on March 31…
“Jeff Sessions’ unfavorability has continued to increase among GOP Primary voters over the course of the primary season,” said Brent Buchanan, Cygnal’s CEO & Founder. “Now that Trump has gotten involved, it’s unlikely the former attorney general will be able to overcome the gap in how voters see Tuberville’s as more strongly favorable. Trump may not be able to pull a candidate across the finish line, but he sure can keep a candidate from getting there first.”
It was a bad sign for Sessions that he finished behind Tuberville (albeit narrowly) in the first round of the Alabama primary last week. Given his universal name recognition in the state, if Republicans were prepared to send him back to the Senate you would have expected him to lead the field at a minimum, if not approach 50 percent. As it is, this Trump tweet from the day after the election might have been the dagger:
This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins! https://t.co/2jGnRgOS6h
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020
Trump had stayed conspicuously quiet about Sessions during the primary, which I’m guessing was a favor to McConnell and other Senate Republicans who are friends with Sessions and who may have been nervous about a Roy Moore resurgence. Once Moore was safely eliminated, though, and Trump was given a binary choice between his old AG and a Republican who’s bent over backwards to signal “loyalty” towards him and who can certainly beat Doug Jones in the fall, that was the end of the president’s ceasefire. Jeff Sessions is about to get his final reward for his fateful decision to support Trump during the 2016 primaries: First came the end of his Senate tenure, then came daily public humiliations as Attorney General, and now finally the end of his political career in a humiliating defeat to a football coach turned politician being cheerled by the president. Should have backed Cruz instead, Jeff. Enjoy retirement.