Trump's populist makeover of the GOP could blow up in his face in 2020
Donald Trump trying to kiss girl at his rally (Screenshot)

President Donald Trump has undeniably left his impact on the Republican Party. Yes, it had mostly the same platform, demographics, and racial grievances before him as after, but the party has taken a sharp swing towards populist posturing, emphasizing its more nationalist elements over traditional conservative values.

This transformation has been remarkably successful for Trump. But as Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief David Lauter warned on Thursday, a new poll from USC Dornsife/LA Times suggests it has not built a winning coalition for the GOP in 2020.

The poll finds that a plurality if Republicans — 4 in 10 — approve of the populist, anti-immigrant direction of the party. But it also finds that 54 percent of Americans, and 12 percent of Republicans, would be unhappy with Trump being re-elected, with twice as many people saying they would be "completely unhappy" as "completely happy".

Moreover, people who are only leaning GOP, rather than base voters, reported they are less happy with the populist direction of the party and would prefer religious leaders to have more influence than Trump.

This suggests that there will be some degree of defections. And given Trump's narrow path — he won with 80,000 votes in three states and is unlikely to pick up states he didn't win before — he cannot afford too many.

The bottom line, said Democratic pollster and strategist Bob Shrum, is that "these are daunting numbers" for the president.