The doubt in everyone’s mind amid hearings of the parliamentary committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack — especially after Cassidy Hutchinson’s explosive testimony — is: Will it make any difference at all? It’s a fair question. Donald Trump surfed in the past amidst a series of controversies, scandals and pretty damning evidence produced by the investigation regarding its ties to the Russiaand its approval ratings have remained remarkably static.
He lost re-election, but by a far smaller margin than most people realize. And with most Republicans perpetually skeptical of the evidence against Trump, the former president’s base has remained intact, and he continues to exert immense control over his party. Trump still has a decent chance of regaining the presidency if he runs in 2024.
Election polls have given enough evidence to predict that the most likely outcome of the January 6 hearings will not be criminal indictments against Trump, nor his party breaking with him entirely, but rather a gradual realization that it might be better. move in another direction in 2024 — even if for no other reason than Trump’s baggage.
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The numbers show that there are signs that the GOP base is open to moving away from Trump and is possibly already moving in that direction.
First, let’s consider how Republicans feel about January 6th. We still don’t know what Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony could mean, because it just happened. But polls conducted before his speech provide mixed verdicts on Republicans’ reaction to January 6.
An ABC News/Ipsos poll published last week suggested a small percentage increase in Americans overall and Republicans who think Trump should face criminal charges — an overall rate of 58% and 19% among Republicans. As the Post’s Philip Bump wrote, these numbers represent an increase from previous Washington Post/ABC News polls that asked the same question of respondents shortly after the uprising and again in April 2022, when only about 1 in 10 Republicans thought Trump should be indicted.
A tough primary against DeSantis
In addition, there is an apparently growing vulnerability for Trump in the 2024 primaries, particularly given the potential challenge from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican). Earlier this year, we highlighted research suggesting that this dispute could be fierce. Then, last week, a University of New Hampshire poll showed DeSantis close to Trump in the crucial primary state that kicks off the cycle.
A Yahoo/YouGov search reveals the same thing; shows Trump with 44% and DeSantis with 33% of Republicans’ preference for which of them should run in the 2024 presidential election for his party. That result isn’t as tight as a UNH poll, but it’s remarkably tight, given Trump’s supposed absolute control of the party.
More Republicans against reelection
The poll also shows 56% of Republicans saying they are in favor of Trump running again for the presidency in 2024. That figure rose to 78% in a Quinnipiac poll published late last year.
Another thing to remember here is that the current dynamic diverges in part from previous Trump controversies and scandals. After the “Access Hollywood” recording, Republicans had little choice but to go to the polls with Trump; he was elected the party’s nominee the following month. When Trump became president, defending him became about maintaining his legitimacy, as well as keeping the Republicans in power. Amid the impeachment process against Trump in 2021, Republicans in Congress had to choose a side, because they were obliged to vote on the issue.
The strength of the former president
Currently, fewer burdens fall on Republicans who truly defend Trump. Of course, if Republicans preferred it, they could simply allow the evidence against the former president to accumulate, without trying to challenge it — which might hurt their party to some extent, but there is little evidence that this issue truly threatens the gains. what they expect in the 2022 midterm elections.
None of this means that Republicans will actually abandon Trump. The base still prefers Trump, even after all we’ve come to know. And immediately after January 6, many Republicans seemed to believe that would be the final straw, and evidently they were wrong. But Trump’s status as a presumptive nominee in 2024 is looking more like a pretense. And the most likely impact of hearings on January 6th seems to be an encouragement to those looking to turn the page. / TRANSLATION BY AUGUSTO CALIL