Politico and Morning Consult have a new poll in which they ask Republican voters who their party should nominate next time around if Donald Trump loses to Hillary Clinton this year.
Now, it’s largely ridiculous to poll the 2020 race this early, and the results are accordingly being greeted mainly by eye rolls from commentators on Twitter. Furthermore, the strong showing for Mike Pence that Politico hypes up — he’s leading the field, with 22 percent — are almost surely driven by the fact that he just happens to be in the news a lot this week getting good reviews for his debate performance.
But in my view, the poll does actually have one very interesting and telling finding — only 13 percent of Republicans said they’d want to nominate Donald Trump again if he lost this year.
That’s significant because there’s been much discussion about whether Trump and his influence have forever changed the Republican Party, or whether more traditional GOP politicians could reassert control relatively easily after a Trump defeat.
This poll is evidence for the latter hypothesis. It suggests that even at a time when Trump is quite popular among Republican voters — as they’re falling behind him as their party’s standard-bearer — the prospect of even his hypothetical loss to Clinton makes all but a mere 13 percent of the GOP electorate want to try someone new next time around.
Now, we don’t know whether Trump would even want to run again if he ends up losing this year (or whether he could afford it), but that’s not really the point here.
The point is that the vast majority of Republican voters are saying they wouldn’t even want to stick with him. For those who think Trump is a uniquely dangerous figure, this should be an encouraging sign that our politics may be headed back to its relatively normal dysfunctional state should he lose, rather than moving further in the direction of Trumpism.