It's Donald Trump's party, Republicans are just living in it 📊 February 28, 2021
At CPAC, Republican politicians, voters and activists pledge their loyalty to Trump
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Today’s post is going to be brief, as I wrote four articles last week and 2,000 words already today and both my brain and eyes are shot. Here are some thoughts on CPAC, the premier conference for conservatives and Republicans held each year in Washington, DC — except it’s in Orlando, Florida this year because that’s the only place that would give them a covid-19 waiver.
Every CPAC, the organizers take a straw poll of the crowd to ask who they want their presidential nominee to be. The survey has a poor record of predictive accuracy. This year, it was asked in two versions. First, one including Donald Trump:
And another version one excluding him:
The results show that the CPAC attendees are still unified behind Trump — overwhelmingly, but not unanimously. The former president got 55% in the straw poll, with the runner up Ron Desantis at 21.
More scientific polling shows similar results for Trump’s numbers, but lower for any named alternatives. Take this POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, for example:
One question is whether Trump is weak to any of these challengers. I think that possibility is out the window, frankly. If Trump runs again he has enough Republican primary voters behind him to easily coast to the nomination; the 55% of voters is more than he got in the 2016 primary, for example.
To me, the more relevant finding from the CPAC straw poll is that the runners up, Ron Desantis, Kristi Noem and Mike Pompeo are also the Trumpiest of the bunch. Support for Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Nikki Haley — who has been failing establish herself as one of Trump’s critics — all rank in the bottom batch of candidates on offer. That’s what happens when you build your party around a cult of personality.
In showing the possible alternatives to Donald Trump, the CPAC straw poll has shown how severe the former president’s hold is over the party. If he chooses to run again, he’ll easily be the nominee. But even if he doesn’t, his ideas have been adopted by the vast majority of the Republican Party’s base. That will be hard to undo.
Posts for subscribers
February 27: The faulty logic of defending the filibuster. The rule is arbitrary, impedes self-government, and could cost the Democrats their majority
For all sign-ups: A Sunday open thread about the filibuster, and other topics.
What I Wrote
Article one: a chart and 400 words about all the new restrictions laws Republicans are introducing to decrease voter turnout and hold on to power. “Republicans introduce a torrent of new laws to restrict voting | There are nearly seven times as many such proposals in state legislatures as there were a year ago”
Article two: “Joe Biden’s $1.9trn stimulus package is one of the most popular bills in decades”
Article, the third: “It’s Donald Trump’s party, Republicans are just living in it | In a new poll, Republican voters pick loyalty to Mr Trump over everything else”
On book progress, I also filled out the last bits of the chapter on aggregation and election forecasting.
What I’m Reading
I picked up this new book on AI, A Thousand Brains, by author Jeff Hawkins. I don’t know what to expect as I have never read him before, but am generally a fan of pop-sci books on AI and machine learning, so long as they aren’t too boosterish.
Here is a good piece by Thomas Edsall for the New York Times Opinion section on the conventional wisdom understating rich white support for Trump
Here is a great piece by The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer on the price Texans paid for their Republican leaders engaging in an unending culture war instead of pursuing substantive policy goals
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