So where does all of this leave us? Ryan supported the “Gang of Eight” immigration efforts (the very efforts that effectively derailed Marco Rubio’s presidential hopes). Ryan is also an unabashed champion of free trade. In other words, he is pretty close to the opposite of Trump on each of Trump’s two signature issues.
Meanwhile, Ryan has made his name by fighting runaway entitlement spending. While he has since receded into the background on Obamacare, he was once the conservative movement’s finest spokesman against it and could potentially become so again. (See the Health Summit and his speech on the night Obamacare passed the House with no bipartisan support and only three votes to spare.) His proposed Medicare reforms, a sort of “Medicare Advantage Plus,” are a crucial part of reining in federal spending and have gained the support of almost every Republican member of Congress. Trump, meanwhile, has been weaker on health-care entitlements—including, most importantly, Obamacare—than on any other domestic-policy issue.
In other words, on the major legislative issues of the day, GOP voters are in between Trump and Ryan. A sort of blend of the two men’s views would pretty closely reflect those of the Republican rank-and-file. Collectively, GOP voters are significantly closer to Trump on immigration, probably about equidistant from the two men on trade, fully in line with Ryan on the need to repeal (and replace) Obamacare, and closer to Ryan on the need to reform Medicare to rein in runaway spending.