It’s not exactly a mystic long-shot to suggest that Donald J. Trump still has a devoted following among Republican voters. But there hasn’t been a lot of empirical verification of his post-presidential position in his party, other than a dubious 2024 straw poll at a CPAC conference in Orlando where he was greeted like he was still in office. Among other things, the CPAC poll was probably distorted by home-turf enthusiasm for Florida governor Ron DeSantis, hailed as the Great Reopener by his public-health-hostile co-partisans.
But now the reputable GOP polling firm of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates (which among other things did work for the Trump reelection campaign, but isn’t affiliated with Trump at present) has released a new national survey of self-identified Republicans measuring their, well, Trumpiness. The pollsters subsequently sliced and diced the GOP rank and file into five “tribes” based on their attitudes toward the 45th president as a present and future leader.
They found that three of the five “tribes” — representing about two-thirds of the respondents — are very warm toward the idea of Trump 2024, as their monikers suggest: “Die-Hard Trumpers” (27 percent of Republicans), “Trump Boosters” (28 percent) and “InfoWars GOP” (10 percent). This last group, defined as strongly favoring QAnon and similar conspiracy theories, could be described as Trumpier than Trump. A fourth tribe (20 percent of Republicans) is called “Post-Trump GOP.” It shares with the first three groups sky-high approval ratings for Trump’s performance as president (97 percent), but is conspicuously open to alternative future leadership (9 percent of them definitely would not vote for Trump in a 2024 Republican primary, while 91 percent “aren’t sure”). Then you have the famous, if often overestimated, “Never Trump” tribe, coming in at 15 percent of the party. Three-fourths of them predictably don’t give him a positive job-approval rating, and 89 percent of them want to see him go away.
Interestingly, support for Trump in a 2024 primary competition declines even in two of the three pro-Trump tribes (all but the “Die-Hard Trumpers,” defined by their unconditional support for him) once potential rivals are named. Among “Trump Boosters,” for example, 12 percent would favor DeSantis over Trump in 2024; 8 percent would support Mike Pence; and 7 percent would back Ted Cruz. That indicates some potential room for rivals to maneuver without directly challenging the mogul. But all in all, the results confirm the judgment that it’s still Trump’s party, with only a relatively small group dead set against him and a majority still inclined to support him in the future. Perhaps best of all for the Man Who Would Be King, no one person in the GOP is even remotely within striking distance of him in rank-and-file esteem. If you remember his divide-and-conquer strategy for winning the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, that makes him uniquely formidable going forward if he decides to run again.