Speed Reads

GOP in disarray

GOP post-election polls show DeSantis trouncing Trump in 2024 primaries, dulling Trump's big announcement

A number of Republican lawmakers, conservative pundits, and other prominent voices in GOP politics — notably Rupert Murdoch's media empire — are publicly blaming former President Donald Trump for the party's historically poor showing in last week's midterm elections. If Trump is the big loser here, the early Republican winner of the 2022 elections is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who coasted to reelection and appears to have cemented the electoral powerhouse as a solidly red state.

Trump has been written off by his party before, notably after the Access Hollywood tape in 2016 and the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, only to reassert his dominance in short order. But a series of post-midterms polls on Monday — a day before Trump is expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign — suggest Trump's erosion in the GOP is real this time. 

The Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group that was once firmly aligned with Trump, released polls Monday showing DeSantis beating Trump by double digits in 2024 GOP primary matchups in Iowa (11 percentage points), New Hampshire (15 points), Georgia (20 points), and Florida (26 points). A separate poll Monday commissioned by the Texas Republican Party found Trump losing to DeSantis in the Lone Star State by 11 points in a field of six candidates.

A slew of polls by Republican firms predicted a "red wave" in the midterms, so some outside observers are skeptical of the accuracy and of these new Trump-DeSantis surveys, and the motivation behind them.

But another post-midterms poll by nonpartisan pollster YouGov also found DeSantis beating Trump among Republicans and GOP-leaning voters by 7 points, 42 percent to 35 percent. Polls before the election uniformly showed Trump as the heavy GOP favorite in 2024.  

Brendan Buck, a former aide to the last two Republican House speakers, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, warned that Trump is a danger to the GOP whether he's embraced or rejected.

"A Republican civil war is erupting at virtually every level of the party," and "this is only the beginning," Axios predicts. "Election disappointments always lead to recriminations," and most of the candidates Trump boosted in the midterms lost, often in winnable races. The defeat of Kari Lake in Arizona's gubernatorial race on Monday night may well be the final straw for Republicans, Washington Post columnist Jason Willick suggests.