Interviews with dozens of Republican officials and strategists over the past few days illustrate the total confusion about the party’s direction. No one has a good handle on what the Grand Old Party will look like in the future. Among the establishment crowd, there’s a rough consensus that a future Republican Party won’t have anything to do with Trump anymore, a move that would precipitate a GOP split. Businesses are cutting off donations to Republican election denialists, social-media platforms are taking down extremist pro-Trump content, and even sympathetic celebrities want nothing to do with the disgraced president.
One former White House adviser said the MAGA die-hards are likely to end up forming their own party, given that they’re loyal to a person, not an institution. “There will be the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the Trumpists,” the source said. Remember: around 70 percent of Republicans still view Trump favorably, and 45 percent of Republicans say they support Trump more than the Republican Party. The trendlines are moving against Trump, but there’s still a significant share of Republicans who remain sucked into the president’s cult of personality. A divided GOP would cripple Republicans heading into what once looked like a productive midterm election.
There are other plausible scenarios. The grimmer outlook would be that the Trumpists maintain control of party infrastructure, forcing the growing roster of Trump critics to break away from the party entirely. This would be a formula for Republican extinction, but given the mood of the grassroots activists and the trajectory of state parties, it’s not out of the question.