Sixty-seven percent of Iowa Republicans would vote to reelect Donald Trump if the 2020 presidential election was held today, according to a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll.
That may sound like bad news for any Republican planning to mount a long shot primary bid against Trump. But in the same poll, nearly two-thirds of Republicans said challengers to the sitting president should be welcomed.
The poll, which surveyed 450 registered Republicans in the state that holds the nation’s first caucus, found that Trump has an 81-percent approval rating among Iowa Republicans. That could actually provide a bit of encouragement to the likes of John Kasich and Jeff Flake, two Trump rivals who’ve publicly toyed with a primary bid. Yes, 81 percent is high, but it’s less than the 88 percent approval rating Trump received from Republicans nationwide in a recent Fox News poll.
Unlikely as a primary challenge may seem, the topic came up with two Republican Senators Sunday. Both seemed open to the idea.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Maine Senator Susan Collins, who has voted with Trump less often than all but one Republican Senator, said she sees nothing wrong with an active 2020 Republican primary. “It’s always interesting when we have primaries because a lot of times it allows different viewpoints to surface,” she said. “It can help influence public policy down the road and it’s healthy for our democracy.”
Asked if she would support Trump’s reelection, Collins dodged. “I’m going to talk about 2020 in 2020. That is a lifetime in politics,” she said.
Retiring Senator Bob Corker, who has been among the Senate’s most vocal Trump critics despite voting with him 84 percent of the time, was asked on MSNBC’s Kasie DC if he thinks Trump should be primaried.
“I do think that we’ve got to remember what the Republican Party is,” he said. When pressed to answer the question, he said he wants to get away from the Senate and think about it more. “What is happening right now is not the standard Republicanism that we’ve had in our country for many, many years,” he said.
But even Corker seemed to acknowledge that any challenge to Trump would be largely symbolic, serving to remind people “what Republicans have been about for generations.”
Trump, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to be worried about a possible primary. Last week, when the topic of potential challenges from Kasich or Flake came up during a Fox News interview, Trump said, “I hope so.”