Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The impact of Super Tuesday could emphasize the changes Donald Trump has brought to the GOP

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Heading into Super Tuesday, it looks like Donald Trump might win more primaries than any other Republican before, except for the current president. He has changed the Republican Party, making it more focused on regular folks, populism, and a fighting spirit. This is different from what Nikki Haley and other GOP leaders wanted. Even though some Republicans aren’t thrilled with where Trump is taking the party, they’re not endorsing his rival. This shows that most GOP members are solidly behind the former president.

But, while Trump seems in control, there are spots where he’s not as strong, especially with suburban voters who usually supported the GOP. Some Republicans still don’t fully buy into Trump’s ideas. Even though he’s winning, Trump struggles with voters who have college degrees and moderates, getting only about 40% of independent voters in some recent contests.

The primary elections tell us a lot about the GOP. Trump’s group of supporters is the biggest force in the party, even if Haley won a recent primary. But Trump is doing even better than past Republicans who weren’t already president. It seems like voters see Trump as an “almost” president trying to win again, like Grover Cleveland did in 1892.

People who study GOP trends say that many primary voters see Trump as a kind of current president. This makes it tough for other candidates to convince voters to choose someone else.

However, Trump is a bit different this time. He’s more popular with very conservative Republicans, relying less on moderate and somewhat conservative voters. He’s also winning big with white evangelical Christians compared to other Republicans. Education is a big factor too – Trump does much better with voters who didn’t go to college than those who did.

Even with all this strength, Trump faces some pushback. Despite winning a lot of early contests, his share of the vote isn’t as high as some past candidates. But he’s doing better than Reagan in 1980 and matches George W. Bush’s percentage in 2000. Still, he’s behind George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Al Gore in 2000.

Super Tuesday might boost Trump’s numbers, especially in conservative states. But, Haley’s support has been surprisingly consistent. Even though Trump has an advantage with voters who didn’t go to college, Haley won big among college-educated voters. This trend could continue on Super Tuesday.

Haley’s strong support from independents in GOP primaries is one reason Trump faces resistance. Some college-educated Republicans are voting against Trump too. Even though Haley voters might not all reject Trump in a real election, a significant group says they wouldn’t vote for him.

As Trump gets closer to a possible win on Tuesday, we still don’t know what Haley and her voters will do in November. The primaries show she can’t stop Trump from getting the nomination, but she has enough support to hurt him in the general election. In past contests, most Haley voters said they don’t think Trump should be president if he’s convicted of a crime. Many also said they wouldn’t vote for him in a general election.

While many might still vote for Trump, his divisive image could cause some trouble. Democrats might find an opportunity with independent, center-right, college-educated Republican-leaning voters who liked Haley. The general election could be tricky if Trump loses even a small part of this group.

One thing is clear – Trump is not letting go of the GOP anytime soon. He’s making sure his people are in charge at the Republican National Committee. Young Republicans are taking cues from him. Trump’s dominance is causing a shift in how the party thinks about things, especially foreign policy. GOP leaders who once supported a strong global role for the U.S. are changing their tune, and even Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is stepping aside.

The choices made by GOP officials show they understand where the party is going. While Haley has support, it’s not as widespread among GOP elected officials. Many Republicans are rushing to support Trump, knowing it’s risky to go against him. Trump’s influence is changing how Republicans campaign, pushing them to be more like him. The GOP base is evolving, and that means everyone in the party needs the same kind of support from non-urban, blue-collar, culturally conservative voters who love Trump. This is a big reason other Republicans are moving closer to Trump’s way of talking and thinking.

As Trump gets closer to a win on Tuesday, the key question is what Haley and her voters will do in November. Even though she can’t beat Trump in the nomination race, she could still make things tough for him in the general election. A large number of Haley voters have doubts about Trump as president. While most might still vote for him, even a small group rejecting Trump could be a problem. With Biden facing challenges too, winning over these independent, center-right, college-educated Republicans who like Haley could be a smart move for Democrats.

One thing is for sure – even if Trump doesn’t win this time, his influence will stick around in the GOP for years. His loyalists are taking over the party, and younger Republicans are looking up to him. Trump’s impact is shaping the GOP’s future. Whether or not Trump becomes president again, his presence will be felt in the GOP for a long time.

 

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