Poll of the week: A new Granite State Poll from the University of New Hampshire finds that 58% of New Hampshire Republicans probably or definitely want former President Donald Trump to run for president in 2024.
That’s up from January when 47% of New Hampshire Republicans said Trump should run again.
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.
Amazingly, Trump’s support for a 2024 bid now among the less conservative faction of the GOP seems smaller in New Hampshire than the percentage of the vote he received the last election he ran as a non-incumbent (i.e. during the 2016 primary season).
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.
When we expand it out to all caucuses and primaries with an entrance or exit poll in 2016, Trump may very well have lost the 2016 nomination if it was left up to the very conservative primary voters. He lost that vote to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by 6 points, per an analysis of all the states with entrance and exit polls by ABC News’ Gary Langer.
The only reason Trump won was because he had a double-digit advantage with moderates and somewhat conservative caucus and primary voters. Remember, he didn’t even speak at CPAC in 2016.
The Trump presidency, however, brought a major shift in who his base was within the Republican electorate.
The shift among the right-wing of the Republican Party to Trump has occurred nationally as well. Although we don’t have any national 2024 polling that meets CNN standards and has a breakdown of Republicans by ideology, we can examine his overall standing in our last CNN/SSRS poll from last month.
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.
The very conservative part of the Republican Party is also where Trump’s seen the smallest dropoff in support since the November election. Overall, Trump’s favorable rating dipped by 13 points among all Republicans and independents who lean Republican in CNN polling. No doubt some of that is because Trump lost the election and the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.
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.
When Trump was running in 2016, far fewer Americans saw him as conservative than they did the average Republican presidential nominee. For example, he was a candidate who said he’d be better on gay rights than Hillary Clinton.
Throughout his presidency, though, Trump governed a lot more like a traditional Repubilcan. For instance, he nominated three conservative justices to the Supreme Court.
A year into his term and certainly by 2020, many more Americans saw him as conservative.
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.
Before we bid adieu: The theme song of the week is the The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd theme song.