That’s the headline from a new Quinnipiac University national poll conducted Thursday through Sunday, during and after the acquittal of Trump in his Senate impeachment trial. Only a fifth of Republicans questioned in the survey said they don’t want the former president to continue to play a dominate role in the party he reshaped and ruled over during his stormy four years in the White House.
According to the poll, 87% of Republicans said that Trump should be allowed to hold elected office again. That stands in contrast to the 55% of all respondents in the survey who said the former president should be barred from holding elective office in the future.
“He may be down, but he is certainly not out of favor with the GOP. Twice impeached, vilified by Democrats in the trial, and virtually silenced by social media … despite it all, Donald Trump keeps a solid foothold in the Republican Party,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy highlighted.
The Quinnipiac University poll questioned 1,056 adults, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The former president was acquitted of one count of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists and other Trump supporters aiming to disrupt congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Seven GOP senators joined all 50 Democrats in the Senate in voting to convict Trump on Saturday. While there was bipartisan support to convict the former president, the tally was 10 votes shy of the 67 needed to convict Trump.
A Politico/Morning Consult survey conducted on Sunday, the day after the trial, indicated that six out of 10 Republicans said they want Trump to play a major role in the GOP going forward, with eight out of 10 Republicans said they hold a favorable opinion of the former president.
The release of the polls come as the former president vows to remain dominant figure in the GOP and pledges to support primary challengers against Republicans who have crossed him who are up for reelection in 2022. And it comes as he’s also flirting with a presidential run in 2024 to try to return to the White House. The Politico/Morning Consult survey indicated that right now, Trump remains far ahead of the rest of the field of potential 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls.
After his acquittal in his impeachment trial on Saturday, Trump touted in a statement that “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.”
The former president teased that “we have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future.”
But there are some leaders in the GOP who seek a different future for the party.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the nation’s capital, on Monday once again took aim at Trump.
McConnell, who eviscerated the former president in a speech on the Senate floor on Saturday after voting to acquit Trump, did it again on Monday.
“There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone. His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended,” McConnell wrote in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
In the piece, headlined “Acquittal Vindicated the Constitution, Not Trump,” McConnell stressed that “the nation needs real constitutional champions, not fair-weather institutionalists.”
And McConnell, for a second straight interview, teased that he may cross paths with Trump when it comes to GOP Senate primaries in next year’s midterm elections, when the Republicans aim to win back the majorities in both houses of Congress.
“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” McConnell told Politico on Saturday. “Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.”
On Monday, the longtime GOP senator from Kentucky told the Wall Street Journal that the key to victory in 2022 is “getting candidates who can actually win in November. …That may or may not involve trying to affect the outcome of the primaries.”
The comments from McConnell fuel speculation that Senate primary showdowns over the next year and a half could turn into a power struggle between the Trump and anti-Trump factions of the GOP.
The former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., emphasized on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Monday that his father “is going to keep pushing that America First agenda, fighting for the American worker. … He’s going to be pushing for candidates who will do that, not the random establishment guys.”
Hours earlier, top Trump aide Dan Scavino tweeted a video of a large gathering of supporters of the former president cheering Trump on as he passed by in limousine as he returned to his residence in Mar-a-Lago in South Florida after a golf outing.
But some top conservative analysts seek a different future for the GOP.
“I think most Republican politicians, at least many of them, have concluded that they cannot win a national election with Trump,” Hume argued. “He lost the last one and then he damaged his reputation terribly with his conduct after the election. So he’s damaged but he retains a significant following within the party. What they’re trying to do, I think, is try to hang on to his voters without hanging on to him. That isn’t easy to do.”
And longtime conservative commentator George Will penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “Now begins McConnell’s project to shrink Trump’s GOP influence.”