That’s why it’s perhaps surprising that Republican voters and lawmakers have been disagreeing with Trump quite a bit lately.
These setbacks aren’t all repudiations of Trump, but they are at least inconveniences for the President, who is having enough problems staying at least somewhat competitive with former Vice President Joe Biden
in the presidential race.
Start with what occurred on Tuesday night in Colorado
. Rep. Scott Tipton had a reliable pro-Trump voting record in Congress
. He was endorsed by the President. There was no sign that Tipton was in trouble. Yet he got defeated by his far-right-wing challenger, Lauren Boebert.
This follows what happened in North Carolina a little more than a week ago. Trump (and Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows) endorsed Lynda Bennett, but she didn’t come close to winning. Instead, it was political newcomer Madison Cawthorn who earned the Republican nomination.
About a week before that loss, the same thing happened in Virginia. Rep. Denver Riggleman lost his race to the more conservative Bob Good in a drive-thru convention. Like Tipton and Bennett, Riggleman had Trump’s backing
Any of these losses on their own wouldn’t be noteworthy, and none of the winning candidates were anti-Trump. Still, it’s quite unusual for an incumbent president to support three primary losers in about a three-week period. Just being pro-Trump is not enough to survive.
If nothing else, these defeats show a President who is perhaps not as in touch with his constituents as we might have believed.
Indeed, there is some sign that Republican voters aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about Trump as they were a few months ago. A majority of Republicans still strongly approve of Trump’s job performance, but both Fox News
and Marist College
have his “strongly approve” rating down more than 5 points since March.
Republican lawmakers, too, have shown a willingness to buck Trump a number of times over the past few weeks.
Republican senators and House members are likely to pass a bill
that contains a provision to rename military bases currently named for Confederate soldiers. They would do so with overwhelming support, even as Trump has threatened to veto the legislation
. While Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said Trump’s veto warning was “expected,” the bill is likely going to pass with a veto-proof majority.
We’ve also seen a number of Republican lawmakers make strong appeals for Americans to wear face masks in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Most notably, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has called for there to be
no “stigma” in wearing a mask. This comes after Trump himself has repeatedly refused to wear a mask in public.
These rebukes of the President should not be seen as campaign-altering events for 2020. Trump still enjoys a lot of support from Republicans in and out of Washington.
But, as I noted a few weeks ago
, Trump’s base isn’t as solid as it is often portrayed. There are more Democrats who are against him than Republicans who are for him.
For a President who will need to squeeze every bit possible out of the Republican base, any defections are damaging. There seems to be more of a willingness for Republicans to do that lately.