Is Trump Losing His Base? New Poll Suggests Otherwise.

Still the MAGA man. Photo: Ross D Franklin/AP/Shutterstock

From the moment Donald Trump got booed at one of his own rallies for endorsing COVID-19 vaccines, some observers began to suspect he’s lost his mojo and may be losing his grip on his own MAGA base. As Philip Bump put it this week, Trump may be losing out to Trumpism:

Seven years after Trump first emerged as a significant political force, and with him now in semi-retirement post-2020, the party seems finally to have figured out how to use to its own advantage what made him appealing. Trumpism, if you will, has been licensed out like so many Trump products before.

Bump’s Exhibit A for this proposition is the success Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has had in “running to Trump’s right on the coronavirus pandemic.” Clearly, DeSantis’s rise in visibility is getting under Trump’s skin, if only because the former president thinks the governor is his creature entirely (thanks to the key Trump endorsement that lifted DeSantis to the governorship). Bump isn’t the only one who thinks the puppet could actually displace the puppet-master. National Review editor Rich Lowry recently argued that DeSantis has “credibility with Trump voters and the foundation to compete with Trump, not as a critic or scold, but as someone who can do it better and, in a few instances, perhaps go further.”

It’s possible these theories have merit. Yet, the punditocracy has underestimated Trump again and again and again, from his demolition of a huge field of rivals in the 2016 primaries to his 2016 general-election upset win over Hillary Clinton to his surprisingly strong showing against Joe Biden in 2020. Most recently, the conventional wisdom erred in assuming that Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021, represented political suicide. While the ex-president cannot defy the laws of gravity forever, you’d be foolish to bet on his demise until he’s political roadkill receding in the rearview mirror.

A new survey of Republicans from Harvard-Harris, moreover, suggests that any political obituaries of Trump at this point are highly premature. In a hypothetical eight-candidate 2024 presidential-nomination competition, Trump has a commanding lead, winning 57 percent support. DeSantis finished a distant second with 12 percent, followed by Mike Pence at 11 percent, and five other possible candidates — Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Mike Pompeo, and Marco Rubio — in the low single digits). Last month a Reuters-Ipsos poll showed nearly identical numbers, with Trump at 54 percent, DeSantis at 11 percent, Pence at 8 percent, and eight other candidates (the five mentioned earlier plus Greg Abbott, Chris Christie, and Josh Hawley) in low single digits.

Obviously we are a long way from 2024 (though the Iowa Caucuses are just two years and 11 days away according to the current schedule), but the sort of dominance Trump is exerting over his party is not often overturned absent a world-shaking event. And if two impeachments and a failed insurrection haven’t shoved him toward the dustbin of history, will Ron DeSantis? We shouldn’t believe it until we see it.

Is Trump Losing His Base? New Poll Suggests Otherwise.