By David Thornton
His erratic behavior, frequent tweeting and personal attacks against Attorney General Jeff Sessions have drawn criticism from even staunch Trump supporters. A new poll shows that one group is still standing by the president: Republican voters.
The new poll by Rasmussen found that Republicans support Trump over Republican members of Congress by a margin of almost three to one. When asked whether their views more closely relate to the president or congressional Republicans, 33 percent aligned with President Trump compared to 12 percent who support the congressional Republican caucus.
The finding comes amid polling that shows that most Americans disapprove of President Trump by double-digit margins. An analysis of past presidential polling by FiveThirtyEight found that Trump is more unpopular than almost any president since the dawn of modern polling in 1945. The sole competitor is Gerald Ford, whose popularity plummeted after he pardoned Richard Nixon, who resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
Overall, likely voters remain sharply divided. The poll found that a total of 45 percent of respondents identified with Republicans, either in Congress or the White House, while 44 percent identified with Democrats. This is well within the three percent margin of error for the poll. Twelve percent were undecided on which party they favored.
The findings support past polls that indicated that, in spite of his missteps and lack of accomplishment, President Trump’s base is holding firm. Even though he is hemorrhaging support among moderates and independents, he remains popular among members of the Republican Party, more popular, in fact, than longtime members of the GOP.
The polling presents the disturbing picture of a party divided against itself. The evenly divided electorate means that Republicans must unite to fend off Democrat challenges in 2018, but as the president becomes even more polarizing, party unity is likely to become even more elusive. Rumors that Trump may back primary challenges to Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) may further deepen the schism.
It remains to be seen whether Trump’s behavior can go far enough to alienate the Republican base. For now at least, the Grand Old Party is effectively the Party of Trump.