What’s the point: This weekend, the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference welcomes back Trump, who is giving his first major speech since leaving the White House.
The speech makes it clear just how important the very conservative part of the GOP is to Trump’s political future.
The UNH poll shows that what we’re seeing at CPAC is part of a larger trend. From center to right, UNH asks voters whether they are moderate, somewhat conservative, fairly conservative or extremely conservative.
The vast majority of extremely conservative (82%) and fairly conservative (75%) Republicans want Trump to run in 2024. These are huge numbers for Trump in the state with the first-in-the-nation primary.
If anything, the right-wing of the Republican Party has become more favorably inclined to want Trump to run in 2024 over the last month. Since late January and Trump’s acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, fairly conservative Republican support for Trump running again is up 20 points. It’s up 5 points among extremely conservative Republicans, who were already quite inclined to say Trump should have a 2024 bid.
Now compare the right half of the party to the center-half. Moderates and somewhat conservatives are much more skeptical of Trump 2024. Slightly less than a third in either group want Trump to run again.
I say “amazingly” because Trump was facing about 10 opponents in the 2016 primary. The UNH question is merely asking a binary question over whether Trump should run in 2024. His support should be considerably higher in the binary, as long as the size of his base hasn’t decreased.
On the other hand Trump’s considerably more popular among the right side of the party in New Hampshire than he was five years ago. About 40 to 50 points more of the right-wing of the party want him to run in 2024 than cast a ballot for him in 2016.
The Trump presidency, however, brought a major shift in who his base was within the Republican electorate.
Trump scored a 75% favorable rating among all Republican and Republican-leaning independents. Among very conservative Republicans, he had a 92% favorable rating. This dropped to 78% with somewhat conservative Republicans and to 61% among moderate or liberal Republicans.
But while Trump’s favorable rating dropped by about 15 points among somewhat conservative and moderate to liberal Republicans when comparing CNN’s final pre-election poll and January’s survey, it dipped by just 6 points with very conservative Republicans.
Why are most conservative parts of the Republican Party more willing to back Trump than four years ago? At least part of it has to do with how Americans saw him governing.
Throughout his presidency, though, Trump governed a lot more like a traditional Repubilcan. For instance, he nominated three conservative justices to the Supreme Court.
Today, that conservatism has no doubt helped Trump maintain a strong base in the party — a base that is large enough to put him ahead in the early horserace for 2024.