Scores of Republicans have condemned the president’s comments after the terrorist incident in Charlottesville.
On top of that, the Guardian has reported that former Republican presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush have said that “America must always reject racial bigotry, antisemitism and hatred in all its forms.”
Donald Trump’s approval ratings may be very poor, but there is one key reason why it’s unlikely that the Republicans could kick Trump off the presidential ticket in 2020. The easiest way to do that would be to challenge him in the Republican primaries come the start of the new decade, but such a move would be risky.
Why? There is a realistic chance that Donald Trump would run as an independent candidate. It is unlikely that he would prevail as the next president, but such a move seems like something Donald Trump would do if push came to shove.
He would not win, but it is likely that he would generate a decent amount of support. Take a look back at the 1992 election, when independent candidate Ross Perot secured a staggering 19% of the vote, and he was not even an incumbent president.
That is why the Republicans would be unlikely to take on their president. If Trump ran as an independent he would take many of his most vocal supporters with him. And while that would not win him the presidency, it could allow for Democrat wins in key states due to splits on the right.
A YouGov poll from early August suggests that 18% of Americans “strongly approve” of how Donald Trump is handling the role of president. 43% of Conservatives also said they “strongly approve” of Trump as do 42% of Republicans. These are the sorts of voters an independent Trump campaign would take away from the Republicans, risking a split in the right.
Then again, we do not know what will happen in the next four years. Trump’s antics could become unbearable for the party, who could end up seeing a short-run loss as a worthwhile sacrifice in aid of long-term gains.
The other option could be to step aside and let Trump crash and burn in the 2020 presidential race, but that could pose a risk to key representatives and senators.
The question for Republican moderates is this: would they rather see an unpredictable, bombastic president in the White House under the Republican banner now, or would they risk a few years of Democratic-rule to allow for a statesman-like Republican president to emerge from the ashes?