Home Forums Article Talk Fully break or remain loyal: Republican voters reckon with GOP’s future

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    miniming
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    Fully break or remain loyal: Republican voters reckon with GOP’s future after Trump

    Some voters are hoping for a Trumpian successor, just not Trump himself.

    When Doug Peterson first voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and again four years later to reelect him, he felt he was supporting a candidate who “took the bull by the horns” to deliver “for the people,” and not for the political establishment.

    At the end of a presidency laden with temper tantrums and childish behavior, particularly over the last two months, Peterson said, he would have voted differently the second time — an about-face that comes shortly after the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

    “He was too busy with all the false claims about how everything had gone corrupt and they stole the election,” the Republican from Kentucky said of the president’s behavior since the election. “That’s not his job. It’s not what I elected him for.”

    With Trump exiting the White House on Wednesday, he leaves behind a bitterly fractured GOP — one that he bent to his will during his tumultuous stewardship, but is now facing an identity crisis and open fissures from within as the party reckons with its future after him.

    Peterson’s own introspection reflects a similar challenge for Republican leaders who are looking for a path back to the majority in 2022: fully rid the party of the outgoing commander-in-chief or stay tethered to him as Trumpism remains deeply entrenched in the base.

    Only a small cohort, 8% of Republicans in last week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll, including Peterson, expressed contrition over voting for Trump in November.

    In the same poll, more than two-thirds, or 69%, of the country said Republicans should chart a different course moving forward, but within the GOP, the sentiments are starkly contrary, with a clear majority of Republicans — 60% — set on sticking with Trump.

    Loyal Trump voters told ABC News in follow-up interviews that even as his tenure comes to an end, they still see him as the champion of the “little guy” and the “forgotten” American — a mantra he repeatedly invoked on the campaign trail.

    “He did a lot for us while he was president,” said Jackie, an ardent Trump defender from southeastern Illinois who preferred to not give her last name.

    “I was looking for hope and when Trump was elected, things got so much better for us,” Renee, a Republican voter from Kentucky’s coal country who also asked that her last name not be used, said. “We were able to get back on our feet.”

    Even as some of the president’s backers are more critical of his one term in office, particularly of his tactics, they view that his commitment to the common man manifested more in his agenda than in his rhetoric.

    “I agree with what Trump was trying to accomplish, but I just disagree with the way that he went about it,” said Charles, a registered Republican from Michigan who declined to share his last name. “The reason I voted for Trump, it was in spite of his demeanor.”

    For at least the next two years, Republicans in Washington, who often shared that same outlook on the president, are now on their own and in the minority in Congress. The gravitational pull between Trump and his legion of supporters didn’t always extend to the rest of the GOP. In the last four years, Republicans saw a collapse of their unilateral governing control, losing the House, followed by the presidency and the Senate.

    The end of Trump’s tenure, and the GOP’s majority, was bookended by a deadly insurrection in the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, spurred by the president, while lawmakers were inside formally solidifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

    Some Republican leaders are now even more antsy to move beyond the Trump era. As House Democrats moved forward with a single impeachment charge against the president for inciting the mob that besieged the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was pleased by the move — a significant shift in posture for the top Republican — believing it will make it easier to purge the party of the president, ABC News confirmed.

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