Morning Consult: Half of all Republicans want Trump playing a "major role" in the GOP

Maybe all of this attention on Donald Trump by the Senate might turn out to be counterproductive — at least if the point is to force Republicans to cut ties. According to a new Morning Consult poll, Trump’s standing has increased within the GOP over the last three weeks. Support for Trump playing a “major role” in the party has gone up almost by double digits since the Capitol riots.

Overall, however, the picture looks quite different:

In a 55-45 vote, all but five Republican senators voted with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to declare the whole process unconstitutional. It was a signal of fealty to the former president that comes as his nationwide popularity improves among Republican voters, who increasingly want him to play a major role in the party going forward and said they would strongly disapprove if he were convicted for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.

According to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, the share of Republican voters who say the 45th president should play a “major role” in the future of the GOP increased 9 percentage points, to 50 percent, compared to a survey conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot. The shift was driven by a 15-point increase among women in the party (41 percent to 56 percent).

At the same time, Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking of Trump’s intraparty favorability rating, conducted Jan. 23-25 among 4,296 Republican voters, found 81 percent hold positive views of Trump, including 54 percent who do so strongly. It marks an improvement from a 76 percent low measured Jan. 10-12, when the share who strongly favored him bottomed out at 49 percent on the eve of his second House impeachment.

That’s inside the GOP. What about outside the GOP? That hasn’t changed much since the riot, in either direction:

The shifts within the GOP evident in this chart are most interesting. The percentage of Republicans outright rejecting Trump hasn’t changed at all, statistically speaking, and the difference in percentage of those allowing for a minor role also falls within the margin of error. The six-point shift from those who had no opinion seems to be the driving force for the increase in backing a “major role” for Trump. That could very well be an instant circle-the-wagons impulse, a reaction to the impeachment and trial that would indicate that those might have backfired, at least if the purpose was to sever Trump from the GOP.

That doesn’t apply to the electorate as a whole, however. Support for a Trump conviction has remained steady at 55% over the past three weeks, although there have been slight drops among independents (-3 points to 47%) and Republicans -2 to 18%). That’s not exactly the kind of broad consensus that one would expect in proceeding to a conviction of an impeached president, especially one no longer in office.

However, it does demonstrate a really big problem for the Republican Party. They might be getting more MAGA, but the rest of the electorate decidedly isn’t. When 56% of the electorate is sick of your preferred leader, you’re not going to win too many close elections with him or her at the top. Trump’s unpopular enough among independents that roughly half of them want him convicted for his role in the riot. What will that look like for Trump-endorsed candidates outside of deep-red districts and states? Launching a “MAGA Patriot Party” will only make that problem worse, as it splits that vote and leaves the GOP with all of the organizational power without any of the MAGA and Trump baggage.

However, don’t read too much into this poll, especially because of that circle-the-wagons impulse. Wait about six months for the furor to die down and for Trump to stop being the center of attention in DC. If these numbers still hold up at that point, then the GOP has a very big problem. It seems far more likely that voters will have moved on by then, looking forward rather than backward — especially if Trump doesn’t make any organizing moves in the meantime beyond a few rallies.