'Lost a lot of respect': Focus groups find Missouri Republicans turning away from Trump
On Tuesday, July 26, the research firm Engagious conducted two focus groups on Republican voters in Missouri — and found that many of them are moving away from former President Donald Trump as a possible candidate for the 2024 presidential election. Two Engagious members, company president Rich Thau and intern Jill DiTommaso, discuss the focus groups in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on August 1.
“Curious to hear what declining GOP support for Trump actually sounds like — and to get a sense of what’s animating it — we took the opportunity, on July 26, to probe that topic, and various others, in two focus groups,” Thau and DiTommaso report. “The respondents were not our usual Trump-to-Biden swing voters, but rather, 13 Missouri Republicans who, even at this late date, remain undecided in the state’s August 2 GOP Senate primary. Disclosure: The research was sponsored by Arnold Ventures.”
The Republican voters that Engagious spoke to a week ahead of Missouri’s GOP primary election on Tuesday, August 2 generally weren’t overly critical of Trump from a policy standpoint, but they believed that the Republican Party would be better off going with someone else in 2024.
“While these Republican respondents expressed mixed emotions, they were by and large either opposed to or underwhelmed by the possibility of a Trump 2024 presidential run,” Thau and DiTommaso explain. “Five of the 13 said outright that they don’t want him to run again. Many of those cited his character and his behavior on January 6 as his greatest shortcomings.”
Republican voter John M., a resident of Wildwood, Missouri, said of Trump, “I think it’s just a real character issue. I voted for him last time. I don’t think he has the character to be president. I love his policies, but don’t like his character at all.” And Lisa R., a Republican voter from Smithville, Missouri, told Engagious that Trump “lost a lot of respect just throughout his whole presidential term.”
Kathy R., a 65-year-old Republican voter from St. Louis, told Engagious that because of Trump’s role in the events of January 6, 2021, he “doesn’t deserve to be president again,” adding, “I mean, that was the first time that it’s happened on a federal building…. and by a president. So, I’m just totally against him.” And 47-year-old Diane B. of Platte City, Missouri told Engagious, “I’m by no means overly enthusiastic about Trump running. I would say I’m between ambivalent and (being) for him running…. I would really like to see maybe (what) some of the other options are.”
Another Platte City resident, 32-year-old Richard F., told Engagious, “If it was between (Trump) and President (Joe) Biden, it’d be (Trump). But you know, I would rather prefer a stronger candidate. I guess I’m not saying if it was between the two of them, that I wouldn’t go with (Trump). So, I don’t want him to not run.”
According to Thau and DiTommaso, eight out of 13 Republican respondents Engagious spoke to “want” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “to run,” but “only three want” former Vice President Mike Pence “to run.”
Republican strategist Sarah Longwell, a Never Trump conservative and founder of the Republican Accountability Project (formerly Republican Voters Against Trump), has also conducted focus groups on GOP voters and the 2024 election — and like Engagious, has found that many of them don’t believe Trump would be the best choice.
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