How Trump retained control of the GOP after January 6
Salvation. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to political news in Washington and across the country. We are your hosts, Blake and Leah.
Today we have a guest article by our colleague Jeremy W. Peters, adapted from his forthcoming book, “Insurgency: How Republicans Lost Their Party and Got Everything They Ever Wanted.” It will be released on February 8.
“But people love me the best by far”
Six weeks after the Jan.6 assault on Capitol Hill, Donald Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio conducted a survey of Republicans that examined how well the former president was valued by several distinct groups of voters within party.
This was the first time Fabrizio had done a detailed breakdown of the GOP electorate since 2007, when he identified an emerging segment he called “Dennis Miller Republicans,” named after the comedian who prides himself on being brash and politically incorrect. The growing sense of cultural isolation and anger among these Americans – conservatives, independents and former Democrats – shaped the contours of what would become the Trump movement.
A seasoned GOP pollster who has worked on presidential campaigns dating back to Patrick J. Buchanan’s first White House candidacy in 1992, Fabrizio saw how Trump remade the GOP in his image – and how popular it is. remained durable even after the attack on the seat of American democracy.
People who described themselves as the most committed Republicans were also the most likely to say they were attached to Trump, Fabrizio found in his post-January article. 6 investigation. Feelings towards the former president, he explained in his analysis, were so tied to the understanding many voters had of what it was like to be a strong Republican that “Trumpism and party loyalty” was becoming. one and the same thing.
Trump hits rock bottom
Immediately after January 6, Trump’s enduring appeal was not so obvious. A Pew Research poll taken days after the attack showed his approval rating reached the lowest point during his presidency – just 29%. Senior Republicans had spent the previous four years carefully avoiding a direct conflict with Trump. Now they felt the need to denounce him.
Kevin McCarthy, the GOP House leader, urged his colleagues to support a resolution to censor Trump for inciting violence. And in a speech on January 13, the day Trump was impeached for the second time, McCarthy was unambiguous as to where he thought the blame had fallen. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” he said.
Even former Vice President Mike Pence, who on Jan.6 was kicked out of the Senate Chamber by Secret Service agents fearful of being a target, was angry enough to privately rant with a Republican senator: ” After everything I’ve done for him.
“One day in January”
The breach did not last long. And burying the memory of what happened on January 6 – which Pence recently downplayed as “a January day” – has become a necessity to maintain power and relevance in today’s GOP.
A year after that January day, polls show most Republicans see no need to reconsider – or even acknowledge – what happened. About three-quarters of them still have a favorable opinion of Trump, or roughly the same as when Fabrizio conducted his poll shortly after January 6. And there is no surer sign that the Republican Party remains Trump’s party than the fact that there is no evidence left. or challenger capable of him in sight.
McCarthy was among the first to change course, visiting Trump’s Palm Beach estate in late January. After the pair posed for a photo, a Trump spokesperson released a statement announcing the pair had agreed to work together to reclaim a majority in the House.
“President Trump’s popularity has never been as strong as it is today, and his endorsement perhaps means more than any endorsement at any time,” the statement noted. McCarthy has since attempted to derail the Congressional commission investigating the attacks.
No one seems more determined to prove how politically damaging it is for a Republican to question Trump’s revisionist accounts of what happened in the 2020 and Jan. 6 election than Trump himself.
In an interview with Mar-a-Lago a few weeks after the attack, he suggested that Pence had compromised his political future by disregarding his request to interfere with the Electoral College vote count in Congress that day- the.
“There was no downside,” Trump said. “So Mike could have done that. And I wish he would. I think it would have been much better for the country. I also think it would have been better for Mike.
He expressed little interest in discussing the harm that could have happened to Pence, his pleading and loyal lieutenant for four years, as rioters marched through the halls of Congress calling for his execution. Their threats were not real, he insisted. “I think it was an expression. I don’t think they would have ever thought of doing it, ”he said.
While Republicans first tried to dispel the idea that Trump’s dominance of the party would continue after he left office, many of them looked like Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who said in a TV interview a year ago that the GOP belonged to no one but to its constituents – the people.
Trump, however, provided a revealing clarification to Scott’s comment: “But people like me the best, by far.”
What to read
For The New York Times Magazine, Susan Dominus and Luke Broadwater interviewed more than 20 Capitol Hill police officers and their families about their emotional and physical scars after the January 6 riot. Officers who have since left the department “said the January 6 failures were the most egregious in a series of crises and mismanagement.”
Broadwater and Alan Feuer wrote an overview of what the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attacks is planning, and Broadwater explained what the panel can actually accomplish.
Pro-Trump groups fundraise and organize events that “appear intended to strengthen the former president’s grip on the Republican Party and its donors,” report Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher.
Time is running out for New York’s bipartisan Redistribution Commission to draw new legislative maps of Congress and states, making it increasingly likely that Democratic supermajorities in the legislature will have the final say instead, writes Nicholas Fandos .
The New York Times asked parents about child care during the pandemic, and Maggie Astor shared a handful of responses.
reply to all
What you want to know
We asked you what you wanted to read in 2022, and On Politics readers certainly responded.
Our inbox was full of your questions about voting access and your personal experiences with the pandemic, not to mention requests to learn more about individual politicians and international politics.
We have bookmarked these ideas for future newsletters, but in the meantime we have noticed a real sense of anxiety about the polarization and survival of democratic institutions. Some examples below:
“How do we fix this? Did people in 1850 ask the same question? How do you stop a tidal wave? And yet there are still pilots and wrestling tournaments, Christmas and college apps. and the new iPhone. – Amy Vansen, Michigan
“We have been through many political crises, but it is a mess that we hope not to leave behind for our children and grandchildren.” – Jaime McBrady, Medellin, Colombia
“When I read in today’s story ‘just as the election season begins in earnest,’ I swore. I am very tired of hearing anything about the electoral prospects of the parties so long before the event. – Keith Johnson, Seattle
One more thing…
Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia who lives in Richmond, was among hundreds of drivers stranded in traffic on I-95 after an unusually severe winter storm hit the Washington, DC area.
Key figures from the January 6 survey
He posted a Tweeter from the road Tuesday morning, stating, “I started my normal 2 hour commute to DC at 1 pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol.
Kaine had traveled to Washington for an 8 p.m. voting rights meeting to help Democrats figure out how to get around a Republican filibuster. But, as temperatures plunged into the 1920s, ice froze the highway and he got stuck.
“It’s been a miserable experience,” Kaine told WTOP, a Washington-area radio station. “But at one point, I kind of went from a miserable travel experience to some kind of survival project.”
At 3:45 p.m., Kaine tweeted, “Okay after 27 hours on the road from Richmond to DC, very happy to be back on Capitol Hill and working on voting rights legislation this afternoon.”
Is there something you think we are missing? Something you want to see more of? We would love to hear from you. Write to us at [email protected].