TURES COLUMN: Republicans no longer need to fear Trump

Published 10:30 am Saturday, June 25, 2022

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Trump’s hold of the party has significantly declined. His prior claims of a strong endorsement record are highly inflated. Members of the GOP who stopped his coup attempt are testifying rather convincingly before Congress. Candidates who stand up to him win more often. And he’s slipping to second place in primary polls.

When Trump burst on to the scene, he caught the old guard of Jeb Bush Republicans napping. In the crowded primary, he could win 33% of the vote, and get all of the delegates against some underwhelming competition. Ever since then, he’s sought hegemony over the Republican Party. Most were scared to cross him; those who did saw their careers end. Not so today, especially after the January 6 insurrection. Members of the GOP are now standing up to Trump.

That’s perhaps why Trump’s endorsement record is so important to him, as it provides the illusion of control. Back in 2020, when he bragged that his endorsement record was “88-2,” I did a little digging. It turned out that in many cases, the person he endorsed ran unopposed or faced a little-known or lightly-funded opponent. When Trump’s pick faced a real opponent, it was a 50-50 shot.

Now Trump and Newsmax are claiming he’s 100-6 in 2022, ignoring several defeats like Georgia Insurance Commissioner Patrick Witt. Many of those he picked (a) were also unopposed, (b) faced little opposition, (c) had held elected office before the primary, and (d) had a disparity in funds raised. In actual competitive races in Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Nevada, Trump only won 11-9, again, a little better than a coin-flip. Some of those loses were by wide margins.

Even in the small number of victories, Trump has relied on picking political celebrities with better name recognition (Dr. Oz, J. D. Vance, a former beauty queen, etc.). When Trump unendorsed Rep. Mo Brooks for poor polling numbers, Brooks caught fire, shot past the front-runner, and made it to the runoff. Endorsements have come at the last minute in races or came when the candidate picked already had a wide lead (Herschel Walker, Doug Mastriano).

Trump is also finding less voter appetite for his “revenge tour.” Back in 2021, Trump had a commanding lead among New Hampshire voters in a UNH survey, 43% to 18% for the next closest candidate, Ron DeSantis. Now DeSantis has now pulled ahead of Trump 39%-37% and that poll left out moderate challengers.

Now, we see Republicans on Capitol Hill, testifying or asking questions, explaining their role in stopping the hostile takeover of our country, the threats they are receiving, and the courage they’ve shown. I even watched the hearings on Fox News, and commentators were highly critical of the ex-President’s words and actions. As a result, nearly 60% of respondents in public opinion surveys find Trump responsible for 1/6.   This isn’t some case of “disloyalty” on behalf of these Republicans. Given all the attacks Trump and his allies have launched on them, and their own bouts of backstabbing, it’s more of a case of chickens coming home to roost.