Nearly a third of Republicans in the United States Senate have said they will not support Republican nominee Donald Trump for president.
Despite months of Trump campaigning on a polemic and often offensive political campaign — calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers,” proposing a ban on Muslim immigrants, and childishly feuding with reporters, Clinton supporters, and his rival Republican candidates during the primaries — active establishment Republican elites have finally responded to a recently released 10-year-old hot mic recording of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women with moral outrage.
To date, 16 of the Senate’s 54 Republicans — or roughly 30 percent — have un-endorsed their party’s nominee. All but two of the six Republican women in the Senate have pulled support from Trump. Before Friday’s tape release, only five Republican senators had refused to endorse Trump.
“Donald Trump's behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy," Sen. John McCain released in a statement Saturday, among a slew of un-endorsements from high-profile Republicans. Vox has tracked more than 150 well-known Republicans who have said they will not support their nominee.
But some areas of the country — particularly pockets of the Deep South and Midwest— remain loyal to Trump. According to the Tulsa World, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe met with Trump after the leaked tapes and decided to continue supporting him.
“I’m not going to get into the personal shortcomings of the candidates that are being elevated in this election,” Inhofe said. “Trump has had the best policy proposals for our nation, and that was reinforced this morning when I met with him and saw him engaging and listening to experts in defense policy and is why I support him.”
While it’s less surprising that Republican senators from states with one Democratic and one Republican senator — like Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio — have come out against Trump, senators from solid red states have also started break ranks with the GOP nominee.
“This is not a decision that I have reached lightly, but his pattern of behavior has left me no choice,” Sen. Mike Crapo, of Idaho, released in a statement Saturday. “Make no mistake, we need a conservative in the White House. I urge Donald Trump to step aside and allow the Republican Party to put forward a conservative candidate like Mike Pence who can defeat Hillary Clinton.”
And until now, the line dividing Republicans willing to speak out against Trump and those who have supported him was drawn between Republicans without a political future and active politicians.
For active Republican politicians, to go against Trump means they must either defy their voter base or criticize aspects of the GOP ideology. For a long time, neither was politically feasible.
Sen. Ted Cruz attempted it at the Republican convention, patently avoiding a Trump endorsement while trying to speak to the future of the Republican Party. Afterward, Cruz’s approval favorability rating plummeted. (On September 23, Cruz caved and finally endorsed Trump: "After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump," Cruz wrote on his Facebook page.)
"It’s a little bit of every person for themselves," University of Wisconsin Madison political science professor Barry Burden told me during the Republican convention. "A lot of people are there to think about their future in the party. Skipping [the convention was] not a viable option, but they don't want to be attached to a sinking ship."
But with every scandal, any speculation that Trump would "change" for the general election has proved improbable — Trump is saying things so morally obtrusive that even active Republicans feel they have no choice but to speak out.
Below is an interactive table of major Republican politicians that have said they don’t endorse Trump. The 16 senators that have refused to support Trump are listed first.