Cracks are also evident in the coalition’s working-class wing. The failed efforts to repeal the ACA have drawn consistent opposition in polls from older and blue-collar whites—understandably so, since studies show both groups would be big losers under the GOP plans. If House Republicans advance Speaker Paul Ryan’s long-standing effort to convert Medicare into a premium-support, or voucher, system, polls suggest these core constituencies would resist even more. Meanwhile, in this week’s ABC/Washington Post poll, non-college-educated whites strongly opposed cutting taxes for the wealthy, and only half supported reducing them for business.
Trump’s gravitational pull is wrenching the GOP into a new shape that bonds his own turbulent priorities onto the party’s existing agenda. Unwilling to spin free from Trump, Republicans can only wonder if he is building a durable new coalition, or recklessly shattering the one he inherited.