One GOP consultant told me that in a GOP primary poll the “number one issue for 80-plus percent of GOP primary voters was loyalty to Trump.” When I ran that number by several other Republican pollsters, there was universal concurrence that sticking with Trump was the top concern among GOP regulars. But they also noted that among the other top priorities were immigration restrictions, opposition to Black Lives Matter, and cracking down on “rioters.”
What’s clear is that the classically liberal, democratic values and American exceptionalist tropes that defined the GOP in the past are no longer a driver for voters who either fundamentally don’t care or are actively hostile to them.
This is evidenced not just in polls of GOP voters but in engagement in the conservative media. Tucker Carlson’s White Power Hour is the most-watched TV show in the country. Outlets that don’t bend the knee to Trump, like the Weekly Standard, are shuttered…
Even in the best of cases, where Joe Biden blows out President Trump to such a degree that contesting the election seems crazy to all but the most Q’d-out elements of the GOP base (which is still, conservatively speaking, one-fifth of the party), the damage will already be done. Left in the wreckage will be a Trumpified congressional delegation; an increasingly white, working-class, anti-immigrant party base with a conservative media and social media structure that incentivizes more extreme, anti-elite, “owning the libs” sentiment; and Trump himself maintaining a niche cultish following that he’s willing to deploy against those who undermine him.