Trump’s 'rigid' base of support may be unwilling to consider alternatives in 2024: report

Trump’s 'rigid' base of support may be unwilling to consider alternatives in 2024: report

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel has proposed a "loyalty test" for all Republicans who enter the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Candidates, McDaniel is arguing, should be excluded from debates unless they are willing to promise to ultimately support the nominee regardless of who that person turns out to be.

That means that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — assuming he runs — would support former President Donald Trump or Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN), if either of them is the nominee. But whether or not Trump would agree to take such a pledge and endorse a candidate other than himself remains to be seen. Trump is already playing hardball with his attacks on DeSantis, who so far, hasn't actually entered the race.

In an article published by Politico on February 28, reporters David Siders and Meridith McGraw analyze the amount of support that Trump still enjoys in the Republican Party in 2023 and pose the question: Just how large is the "Always Trump" contingent at this point?

READ MORE:'Been to this party too many times': Rick Wilson predicts GOP will nominate Donald Trump in 2024

The term "Never Trump" is used to describe right-wing conservatives and libertarians who are so vehemently opposed to Trump and the MAGA movement that they refuse to support him under any circumstances — a group that includes MSNBC's Joe Scarborough (a former GOP congressman), attorney George Conway, The Lincoln Project's Rick Wilson (a former GOP strategist), Washington Post columnists George Will and Max Boot, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum and The Bulwark's Tim Miller. All of them supported Democratic now-President Joe Biden in 2020.

"Always Trump" Republicans, in contrast, have a Trump-or-bust outlook. And Siders and McGraw point out that they may comprise around one-third of Republican voters.

According to the Politico reporters, "Trump’s base remains rigid, and even his critics believe it may be fatal to annoy them…. Despite his difficulties since he left office, about a third of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters still consider themselves supporters more of Trump than the Republican Party, according to a recent NBC News poll. Many of them aren't going anywhere. Fully 28 percent of Republican primary voters are so devoted to the former president that they said they'd support him even if he ran as an independent, according to a national survey last month from The Bulwark and long-time Republican pollster Whit Ayres. Indeed, the 'Always Trump' component of the party is so pronounced that it's affecting how Trump's opponents operate around him."

On the right, there are different views on how much support Trump still enjoys in the GOP. Firebrand author Ann Coulter, for example, is a former Trump supporter turned scathing Trump critic who is enthusiastically rooting for DeSantis and believes that Trump is “so done” among Republicans.

READ MORE: Watch: Ann Coulter says Donald Trump is 'profoundly stupid'

As Coulter sees it, media pundits are exaggerating Trump's grip on the Republican Party. But Wilson, on the other hand, told The Guardian that when push comes to shove, Trump will crush DeSantis in the primary — assuming that DeSantis runs — and that ultimately, the GOP will "bend the knee" to Trump in the 2024 presidential election. The GOP, according to Wilson, remains firmly in Trump's control regardless of what DeSantis' cheerleaders are saying.

Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, doesn't believe that Republicans have a coherent post-Trump strategy for 2024.

Cullen told Politico, "All these folks are just hoping that Trump's going to have a heart attack on a golf course one day, and that's going to solve this problem for them. Not much of a strategy."

A Republican strategist, interviewed by Politico on condition of anonymity, stressed that Always Trumpers greatly outnumber Never Trumpers in 2023's GOP.

That source told Politico, "If a primary gets too nasty between Trump and DeSantis, I could foresee a chunk refusing to support DeSantis. Why were there 'Never Trumpers?' Because of the nastiness of the primary. I do think that's something other candidates need to be cognizant of. The voters loyal to Trump are a much more significant chunk than the Never Trumpers."

READ MORE: Donald Trump posts meme accusing Ron DeSantis of 'grooming high school girls'

Read Politico’s full report at this link.

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