They don’t hope to regain control of the Republican Party, because they expect that Trump-ism will survive Trump and that Trump himself won’t shut up simply because voters shut him down.

“I personally think that the Republican brand is probably destroyed,” Conway told me. “It’s destroyed by it having become essentially a personality cult.” He said that he formally left the party, changing his voter registration to unaffiliated, some two years ago, and he doesn’t envision being able to return anytime soon…

Trump’s election made him revisit how he and other Republican strategists had paved the way for Trump. For instance, Weaver worked for the man who was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump for president.

“Jeff Sessions wouldn’t have gotten to the Senate had I not overseen his race in 1996,” Weaver told me. “Now I look back at that and say, ‘What kind of goddamn penance do I have to pay for that?’”

Sykes spoke of “a revelation” that he has experienced, courtesy of Trump. “The heart of politics is not about the policy,” he told me. “It’s about the values. I can disagree with you on eight out of 10 issues, but if you’re an honorable, honest, empathetic human being, we can do business.” Trump is none of those things. Biden is most or all of them — and will get Sykes’s vote in November.