As GOP Looks Ahead To Midterms, Trump Looms Large Over Party's Future

As the dust settles from an internal Republican power struggle over former President Donald Trump’s role in the future of the party, many within the party are eager to turn their attention to the 2022 midterms, but some critics see Trump as a liability in the effort to forge a winning coalition of conservative and independent voters.

The removal of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., from House GOP leadership after repeatedly denouncing Trump has spurred new warnings from prominent moderate Republicans that fealty to the former president could destroy the party. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told CNN Trump is “toxic” for Republicans, and punishing Cheney for defying him was “crazy.”

The CBS News/YouGov survey Trump cited found 80% of Republicans approve of ousting Cheney from leadership, with most justifying the move because she was “not on message with the party” and she was “wrong about the 2020 election.” About one-third of respondents who backed removing Cheney explicitly agreed disloyalty should be punished.

Last week’s events underscored how closely the party has tied itself to Trump as it charts a course toward the midterms. Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said Trump critics like Cheney are increasingly out of step with the base, and they are doing the party a disservice by training their fire on the former president instead of the current one.

“What you’ll read and see on TV is Trump controls the Republican Party,” O’Connell said. “That’s not true. The grassroots control the Republican Party, and they love Trump... The blueprint going forward is the American First agenda.”

Still, as O’Connell noted, Donald Trump is not on the ballot in 2022, and plenty of Democrats who are steadily voting to advance President Biden’s agenda are. Enthusiasm to oppose Biden on the right is already strong, and it will likely only grow stronger in the next 18 months.

“Joe Biden is the best advertisement for taking back power in Washington for the Republican Party,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell dismissed warnings of a Republican schism over Trump as a Democratic narrative intended to depress Republican turnout. If Trump supporters show up to vote in full force in 2022, he expects Republicans will easily take control of the House and possibly even the Senate, and that would position them well to win the White House in 2024.

“[Democrats] understand a tsunami is coming, and they’re trying to mitigate their losses,” he said.

Read more from Stephen Loiaconi at abc6

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published this page in In The News 2021-05-18 13:00:16 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy