Does Trump Really Control The GOP?

I find it interesting that Democrats and the leftwing press keep advancing the claim that Trump controls the Republican Party.  They even allege that the GOP is nothing more than a Trump cult. 

The Democrats’ strategy is rather simple … and obvious.  Demonize Trump and then claim he IS the Republican Party – or the Republican Party is him. They are doing this to scare voters away from electing Republicans to any office in 2022 – from the United Senate to local school boards.

If, however, Trump does not control the Republican Party — and the thousands of GOP candidates running for office all across the land and the tens of millions of voters who cast Republican ballots — the Democrats have no argument that will stop the anticipated Republican tsunami in November.  All the most critical issues – inflation, crime, border security, wokeness, war and social policies – are trending against Democrats big time.  

Trying to nationalize the 2022 midterm elections – with Trump as the main issue – is an act of desperation.  It is not working as we see from the current polling and other early indicators.  The main flaw in the left’s argument may be that the at least half public does not see Trump as the universally evil person they portray — AND they do not believe that he controls their vote.

Trump has consistently had trouble achieving high marks in the popularity poll – never over the 50-percentile mark.  In many polls, he has held firm at the mid-30 percentile.

He may have influence but is hardly control. His endorsements or attacks can change the trajectory for some candidates – with attacks arguably having the greater impact on candidates.  He also has some influence because he has lots of political money.  For the most part, however, he has dangled the money but only delivered relatively small contributions.

It is noteworthy that it’s the Democrats who keep talking about Trump as being synonymous with the Party.  You do not hear Republican leaders or candidates proffering that claim – unless you count those former conservative Republicans who left their Party and their principles to bond with the Democrats and their anti-Republican strategy.

Most Republican candidates do not run as members of some MAGA cult – or in servitude to Trump.  They run on their own issues that are responsive to the interests of the public they hope to serve.

The classic example – but by far not the only one – was the successful Glenn Youngkin campaign for governor of Virginia.  He did not seek Trump’s endorsement or engage in joint public appearances.  On the other hand, Youngkin did not waste time being dragged into a public bruhaha over Trump.  He ran what could be called a non-Trump campaign.

Recently, when Republican voters were asked if their loyalty was to Trump or the Republican Party. The vast majority – including many in the so-called Trump base – picked the Republican Party.

I live in Palm Beach County – just a short drive to Trump’s Mar a Lago home.  The local Republican Party is about as supportive of Trump as can be.  Most of the leaders have visited Mar-a-Lago on numerous occasions.  There is a Club 45 that attracts an audience of more than a thousand Trump fans for their meetings.  Yet … when many are asked if they will vote for Trump if he runs in 2024, I do not get the anticipated “for sure.”  Instead, they say it depends on who else is in the race.  Some will vote for Texas Senator Cruz over Trump.  Most of those I asked would vote for Florida Governor DeSantis over Trump.  Some prefer that there be an alternative candidate.  Those are not the kind of responses you get from members of a cult.  Even in Trump-country, it is a small number who want Trump to run and who are committed to vote for him under any conceivable circumstances.

Trump may endorse a number of winners in the upcoming midterm elections.  That is just a matter of odds.  But how many will he have made a winner.  That is another question.

The Democrat strategy to make Trump THE issue in November is doomed to failure because that is not how millions of Republicans will be voting.  I believe that the vast majority of Republican voters in November will not care what Trump says – or who he endorses.  They will be looking at the candidates individually – and how they individually relate to the issue the voters care about most.

I say “no.”  Trump does not control the Republican Party.  But he seems to have control over the  Democrats and leftwing media.

So, there ‘tis.

Written by CFP Staff Writer

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