That’s why such a primary challenge would be the harbinger of intra-party civil war, not a prelude to a vibrant, forward-looking takeover. Two-fifths of the GOP might be unhappy with Trump. But more than half of this group (or 23 percent of all Republicans) was happy enough with him to vote for him in the first place. A somewhat less volatile and incompetent cultural populist and nationalist could probably appeal to this group again. Only a mere 18 percent of the Republican Party is firmly Never Trump and thus likely to support returning the GOP to what it was before the Trumpening.
That means any attempt to take down Trump with a primary challenge will likely be interpreted by over four-fifths of the party — including, again, those who identify with it most strongly — as an act of disloyalty and self-sabotage by those who lost out the last time. (That an astonishing 11 percent of the Never Trumpers are Mormons and Mitt Romney’s name keeps being floated as a primary challenger also raises the possibility of an added dimension of strife, along intra-religious lines, within the party.)