According to the most recent Gallup polling, Donald Trump’s GOP approval rating stands at 87%. Since Gallup began asking the question, this number has never dipped below 77% (it is worth noting this happened between December 11-17, 2017, which is also when his general polling numbers hit their low of 35%). Republican support for the president, it would then seem, is steadfast despite his myriad of controversies. The party seems to be marching in lockstep, and to defy him within the party seems to be a surefire way to end one’s political career.
Despite all this, rumors have flown in the last couple of weeks. There’s been subtle talk about replacing Donald Trump. There have been whispers about removing his influence over the party. In the last week, the National Review put forth an article written by Jonah Goldberg which offers a rationale as to why Trump’s Republican approval ratings are so high.
The article, in short, rejects the notion that Trump is personally popular and instead suggests that he has strong support because he, as some of his supporters say, “fights!”. If this theory is true, then it would follow that a show of weakness on Trump’s part or a welcome alternative showing up on the scene could convince Republican voters to abandon the president.
The New GOP Sect
Enter the National Republicans.
Founded in September of 2019, the National Republicans are a group of rank-and-file Republicans working to remove Trump’s influence from the GOP. They believe that Trump is a failed GOP leader, citing the party’s poor showing in the 2018 elections, in which the GOP lost the House of Representatives, as well as seven governorships and hundreds of state seats, as a reason for his removal. They also point to the fact that, while they have worked for the party for decades, Trump has been in and out of the party. Most recently, he only became a Republican seven years ago. Andy Nilsson, founder and temporary chairman of the National Republicans, defines the three main goals of the organization as:
- Be a safe haven for Republicans seeking refuge from Trump
- Be a base of operations for Republicans working outside the RNC structure, which has been absorbed by Team Trump, and
- Promote the Reagan-Bush legacy of the modern GOP.
Specifically, the National Republicans seek to nominate a Republican other than Trump for the national presidential ticket in 2020, even if this means forming a nominating convention in contrast to the RNC. This group has reached out across the nation to like-minded Republicans, and begun to form state committees in states such as South Dakota, Utah, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Maryland. It also is seeking endorsements by GOP members on all levels of government, from the local councilman to house representative or senator. The party has a simple message to party members reluctant to abandon their party; stay GOP, but out of the RNC.