Which of these two groups do you think registered higher support for Donald Trump? The Country First Conservatives, right? Well, no. Ninety-three percent of Core Conservatives approved of Trump’s job performance, as opposed to 84 percent of Country First Conservatives. The most ideologically pure conservatives are Trumpier than the nativist and isolationist ones.
The waning months of the Republican primary campaign in 2016 devolved into a contest between Trump and the purity of conservative doctrine. Ted Cruz, the last candidate standing against Trump, represented the latter, and enjoyed the vocal support of most of the organized conservative movement. Cruz called Trump a “fake conservative.” Rick Perry had termed him a “a cancer on conservatism.” Trump’s presidency has driven home the surprising reality that Trump is conservatism.
Among the right-wing intelligentsia, the debate over whether Trump authentically represents or has deviated from movement conservatism has been a full-scale rout.