The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Trump’s Republican Voter Problem

Although the headlines tell us Trump won a huge victory in South Carolina yesterday, I’m seeing commentary saying the results aren’t all good news for him.

Jim Newell, Slate, Trump’s South Carolina Victory Tells Us Some Important Things About His Weaknesses.

 Trump isn’t your run-of-the-mill non-incumbent, is he? He’s a former president with the near-total backing of the new party establishment. He’s about to put his daughter-in-law in charge of the central party organ, because he can. Congressional Republicans quiver at his every utterance.

And still, hundreds of thousands of voters, and a hearty 40 percent of the electorate in Saturday’s primary, voted for his opponent, a supposedly globalist Republican-in-name-only traitor to the cause. He may have all but secured the nomination by running an incumbent’s campaign. But the actual incumbent, won 96 percent of the vote in the South Carolina Democratic primary in early February. I invite you to imagine the punditry had President Biden ceded 40 percent to Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson—or even 10 percent.

Trump underperformed polling with his margin of victory, too. The FiveThirtyEight polling average showed a 28-point Trump lead, and he won by 20. While Trump came fairly close to hitting his projected vote share, Haley’s support was underestimated, suggesting her rigorous campaigning over the last month was effective on the margins. Haley, according to exit polls, won two-thirds of voters who decided this month. Unfortunately for her, only 16 percent of voters decided this month.

Trump’s weaknesses in the exit polls will ring familiar. Haley won independents, those who aren’t evangelical Christians, college graduates, first-time voters, moderates, non-gun owners, and those who oppose a national abortion ban. Among the third of the primary electorate who do not think Trump would be fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime, Haley won 87 percent. This is too much of a moderate, white-collar coalition for Haley to win a Republican primary in the era of Trump. But come November, it’s a bloc that will decide the 2024 election.

Aaron Black, Washington Post:

Given the GOP nominating contest appears to be all but over, the biggest question now might be what the results say about Trump’s general election prospects.

A few exit poll findings stand out.

One is that 31 percent of voters said Trump wouldn’t be fit to serve as president if he’s convicted of a crime. South Carolina becomes the third early state to show that at least 3 in 10 voters said a convicted Trump wouldn’t be fit. (We don’t have data for Nevada.)

Just because these voters say he wouldn’t be fit doesn’t mean they wouldn’t vote for him, but it would surely be a hurdle for at least some voters to get over. And 5 percent of voters voted for Trump but said he would be unfit if convicted.

Another exit poll finding is that a large chunk of Haley’s support was expressly anti-Trump. While about 20 percent of voters picked her and said it was mainly an affirmative vote for her, well more than 1 in 10 voted for her while saying the vote was mostly against her opponent (Trump).

The NORC analysis showed that 35 percent of voters said they would be dissatisfied with Trump as the nominee, and 21 percent said they wouldn’t vote for him in the general election.

At least 20 percent of voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have now said they will not vote for Trump in November.

A major unknown from there is how many of these voters actually mean it — and would otherwise be in the GOP camp. South Carolina allows any voter to participate in the Republican primary. But just 4 percent of voters Saturday identified as Democrats.

Josh Marshall, TPM:

I come at all of this from a somewhat different perspective, I guess. Because there wasn’t a moment throughout 2023, or late 2022 for that matter, when I wasn’t certain Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee. We knew that after Iowa and New Hampshire and we know it now. In a presidential election or even a contested Senate race 60-40 is pretty decisive. It’s plenty to make Trump the nominee. But I think we have to be honest and say that 40% of the electorate in a deeply Trumpy state like South Carolina voting against Trump is a huge showing of opposition precisely because the nomination race is effectively over.

It’s fair to say that this is Haley’s home state. She was two-term governor. That must figure into the equation. But 40% isn’t that different from the 43.2% she got in New Hampshire or the 40.3% Haley and Ron DeSantis got between them in Iowa.

I’m not going to speculate what it means for the general election. But this is a lot of persistent opposition for a candidate who has always been running as a de facto incumbent. Even if you set that de facto incumbency aside, it’s quite a lot for a candidate who is, whatever technicalities you want to get caught up in, the presumptive nominee. 40% of Republican primary voters are still showing up to say they don’t want Trump even when they know they’re definitely going to get him.

As for Nikki Haley, as long as she has donations coming in I don’t blame her for not dropping out. Trump’s brain glitches are getting worse. See also ‘Trump appears to be showing gross signs of dementia’: Expert points to new evidence. A lot of that may be just from stress and fatigue, but it wouldn’t surprise me a whole lot if he has a stroke one of these days, If Trump somehow doesn’t make it to election day, she’s positioning herself to claim the nomination. She’s also positioning herself to be a leader of a post-Trump Republican party.

5 thoughts on “Trump’s Republican Voter Problem

  1. uncledad,


    I'd completely forgotten about Funkadelic.  And I can't tell how happy I am that you included the link to this album.

    Jimi was my gateway drug into loving Black musicians playing psychedelic music.

    After I got all of jimi's (non!bootlegged) albums, I was turned on to The Chambers Brothers.  And their hit single, "Time Has Come Today," is one of my absolute favorite songs!

    So, Jimi led me to them, and they led me to Funkadelic – and I once had this terrific album!
    Where is it?
    I wish I knew!
    Probably in some (now much, much older) woman’s record collection…

    Thanks again!!!!!

    • your welcome! Eddie Hazel was a great guitarist (I believe he's ranked in the top 25 of all time by rolling stone). He played alot like Hendrix but Funkadelic made much more use of effects (delay, reverb, etc) than Hendrix. Personally I'd rather listen to Eddie play, it was wild for the time. When I was a kid the only black kid from the old neighborhood at the time had that Album "maggot brain", we pretty much wore it out! 

  2. The open question that polling does not answer is how many Republican voters are going to be "never Trumpers" in November. IMO, HRC was a lousy candidate because she is corrupt. Mind you, I think she was probably legal, but her connections to big money and pay-to-play are real. I know some progressive voters who refused to vote for her – and by not voting, they may have elected Donald Trump. Trump was an unknown to Republicans to his advantage in 2016 – HRC was a known to progressives, also to Trump's advantage. 

    Biden is a known to Democrats. I have some regrets about how Biden handled Israel and Hamas but overall, Biden deserves good grades on his performance and it's no question relative to Trump's performance. The issue in a repeat election that Trump lost and Biden won is what states might flip. Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia were less than a percent for Biden. Republicans have lost ground in Arizona and Wisconsin in the last three years. GA is still up for grabs. NC was a 1.35% squeaker (for Trump). PA was 1.16% (for Biden). MI was 2.78% for Biden but there's a strong Muslim population there who identify with Gaza, NV was 2.39% for Biden. I have my doubts that any state will flip against Biden that he carried by more than 3%. If the 3% states are up for grabs, I'd point out that Trump only carried FL by 3.36 % and abortion will be on the ballot in FL with a state constitutional amendment.

    The Biden impeachment is probably dead. The GOP was planning on milking that "scandal" to counter Trump convictions in court. Despite GOP fantasies to the contrary. the more voters factually know about Trump through evidence in trials, the worse it is for Trump. If that wasn't true, Trump would be rushing to trial.

    The speculation is that the Supremes have decided not to take the Trump "absolute, total, get-out-of-jail-free, immunity case. The reason it's not out is because a justice is writing a dissent. If that's the case, sometime in the next few weeks the case will be back on track. NY has Trump's a$$ starting March 25 through mid-May. That's the Stormy Daniels case but two separate women were paid hush-money to keep the fraudulently concealed payoffs off the books for the 2016 election. Melania has been harder to find than a cloistered nun – I would guess after the NY trial, that will continue to be the case. IF (I said if) the DC J6 case is remanded back to Judge Chutkin in March, we're on track for a trial potentially in June-July lasting until September-October with a verdict before the election. Perfect. 

    As I read the tea leaves – the "bad" stuff that's supposed to hurt Biden is not panning out. The truth about J6 may get out in front of a jury before the election and that will be devastating to Trump. 


  3. Saw in the Wapo that the Koch Bros are throwing in the towel on Nikki Haley. Wonder how long she can coast?

  4. Digby on this subject today:

    Trump is trying to reach black voters. IN a recent speech he claimed black voters embrace Trump because of his mugshot. I presume he thinks that most black voters have been arrested and have had their mugshot taken. I'm not sure that's gonna resonate.

    The report is that Trump intends to reach out to suburban women by proposing a 16-week federal abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.  How generous! I have not heard that the federal statute will be written to strike down six-week abortion bans in states like TX and FL. I have no confidence Trump will strike down the fetus people who deliberately left out exceptions for rape and incest. The evangelicals have tasted blood by striking down Roe. They're ready to go after same-sex marriage and contraception. If Trump threatens to become a "moderate" on women's rights, they will turn on Trump.

    For those who did not see it, Miss Lindsey was booed when he came out on stage in South Carolina. For thise who don't remeber, Trump had to abandon taking credit for the vax that came online about the time Trump left office and turned around Covid. Yeah, Trump can't take credit for the one thing he did right with Covid – financing a vaccine that turned the tide. MAGA dictates to Trump what he believes and they don't believe in a moderate policy on women's rights. But some people on Trump's staff can do percentages. He can't win on MAGA alone. MAGA demands and expects Trump will impose MAGA on non-MAGA, not compromise on MAGA to create a majority Trump might win with. 

    I heard that Trump made a written request to negotiate the judgement against him in NY (the 350 million.) That's not a "thing." But it implies that Trump does not have the (in total) half-bilion he has to come up with. He might be getting a cold reception to a bond on the terms he'd like. What does Trump expect? He got busted for lying to banks on applications for loans and surprise, surprise, they want security for the biggest loan since he screwed the banks on the Taj Mahal. The deadline on E. Jean Carroll is (I think) just ten days out or so. If Trump does not pay, he loses the chance to appeal on that.


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