If a more typical Republican runs in 2024, people like Charen may simply migrate back to the GOP—she’s fond of Senator Mitt Romney and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. The same could happen if President Biden “takes marching orders from the Squad,” says Judy, the pollster, referring to a liberal foursome of young representatives.
Indeed, Charen said her vote this year doesn’t mean she’s become a lifelong progressive. “Even if I vote Democrat for the rest of my life, which I find hard to imagine,” she told me, “it will not be with the kind of blind loyalty that I showed to Republicans.”
Rejoining the Republicans will be difficult, though, if Trumpism hangs around D.C. even after Trump leaves. Some Congressional Republicans have supported Trump in his refusal to concede the election, suggesting the president has, during his four years in office, taught Republicans a thing or two about being loud and ruthless. That’s off-putting to people like Charen and Kristol. “If the GOP seems given over to Trumpism, then perhaps this small number of Republicans will leave the party for good,” John Sides, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University, says.
It’s possible the Republican party will go back to normal after Trump is gone, but just what a cleaned-up GOP will look like is also unclear. “I don’t know if the Republican Party is salvageable,” Charen told me at one point.