Reuters is reporting that about 120 former members of Republican administrations held a Zoom call last week to discuss plans to start a new center-right political party to counter Donald Trump’s influence on the Republican Party.
It’s a dubious undertaking given that they only plan to run a few candidates of their own. But the guts of their plan appears to be endorsements of like-minded centrists, be they Republican, Democrat, or independent.
It’s unclear exactly what they think they can achieve. The best they can hope for is to hand the Democrats several seats currently held by pro-Trump Republicans. Otherwise, what could they meaningfully accomplish?
Call participants said they were particularly dismayed by the fact that more than half of the Republicans in Congress – eight senators and 139 House representatives – voted to block certification of Biden’s election victory just hours after the Capitol siege.
Most Republican senators have also indicated they will not support the conviction of Trump in this week’s Senate impeachment trial.
“Large portions of the Republican Party are radicalizing and threatening American democracy,” McMullin told Reuters. “The party needs to recommit to truth, reason and founding ideals or there clearly needs to be something new.”
Is the party really in such bad shape? Aaron Blake of the Washington Post calculates that the GOP came within 90,000 votes — 43,000 votes for president, 32,000 votes for the House, and 14,000 votes for the Senate — from controlling all of Washington. That doesn’t sound like a political party in trouble.
Can a party that came so close to winning everything last November be dead in February? Most Republicans don’t think so. McCarthy, for example, is at this very moment working on an effort to win the House majority in 2022; he might make it. A GOP effort to win the Senate is underway. And a Republican 2024 field is out there — unspoken, at this early moment, but making plans to run in the next presidential race.
It seems the GOP-is-dead talk is coming mostly from groupthink journalists and Democrats who, eager for partisan advantage, are trying to make one Republican extremist — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — the face of the Republican Party. “Democrats look to make Marjorie Taylor Greene the face of GOP,” reported The Hill last week. Indeed they are. And they are making some progress, with a big boost from some media organizations.
Donald Trump will always have a hard-core of support — Republicans and Democrats — to fall back on. It’s probably smaller today than it was on election day 2020. And it will continue to shrink as Trump’s influence inevitably begins to fade.
But these former aides and ambassadors are panicking. Who do they think should run the Republican Party? If they believe “moderates” and “centrists” should take control they haven’t been paying very close attention to Republican Party politics these last few years. The GOP is no longer a “conservative” party. It has become the Party of Trump and If you can’t stomach Trump, you either leave voluntarily or are kicked out.
The new Gallup poll on party favorability is not good news for Trump Republicans.
Americans’ opinions of the Republican Party have worsened in recent months, with 37% now saying they have a favorable view of the party, down from 43% in November. This decline, along with a slight increase in the Democratic Party’s positive ratings, to 48%, gives the Democrats a rare double-digit advantage in favorability.
Voters always think ill of Republicans and it doesn’t seem to affect the vote very much. But these favorability numbers appear to be affecting party membership. Over 33,000 Republicans left the California GOP since election day. This is a movement not confined to California. It’s a nationwide phenomenon.
Reports of the GOP demise are no more than wishful thinking. But how long will the party remain in the wilderness? The anti-Trump Republicans who want to form a third party aren’t making things any better.