President Donald Trump's poll numbers are bad and getting worse, and Republicans are bracing for a possibly devastating loss in November's election.
The coronavirus pandemic has proven to be an anchor on the president's political fortunes, and his failures may drag down Mitch McConnell's Senate majority and increase the Democrats' House majority, according to political scientist Daniel Drezner's new column for the Washington Post.
"Let’s assume this outcome for a second — what does it mean for the GOP?" wrote Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. "Politics is a coldblooded game, and even before Trump has been declared a political dead man walking, speculation is beginning about what comes after."
Some Republicans have already jumped ship and become #NeverTrumpers, but Drezner is doubtful that the GOP will engage in deep self-reflection about the conditions that led to that downfall.
"Even if Trump crashes and burns, his cult of personality will command significant loyalty from his #MAGA base," Drezner wrote. "That alone is enough to influence party primaries that in turn influence the party’s future leaders."
Right-wing conspiracy theorist and anti-immigrant bigot Allen West was elected this week to lead the Texas GOP, and Drezner sees that as a sign that a post-Trump Republican Party could move even further to the fringes.
"The scary thing about a post-Trump GOP is the prospect that it learns nothing," Drezner wrote. "After getting pasted in 2006 and 2008, the GOP adopted an obstructionist posture during the Obama years. The more disaffected voters were during the Great Recession, the better this strategy worked. It is all too conceivable that the post-Trump GOP changes itself not at all. It can count on the vagaries of partisan politics in the United States to eventually inherit political power once again."