GOP is 'never going back' from Trump and party's future 'isn’t likely to be pretty': pollster
Donald Trump at MAGA rally in support of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in 2018. (mark reinstein /

Pollster Sarah Longwell has a dire message for Republicans who insist the party is ready to "move on" from former President Donald Trump.

Writing in The Bulwark, the anti-Trump strategist says that conversations she's had with GOP base voters have shown no appetite for going back to the way the party was before Trump's 2016 election campaign, and she noted that even Trump imitators such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are having trouble convincing the GOP base of their bonafides.

In fact, Longwell says that recent focus groups with GOP voters have shown them souring on DeSantis in the wake of Trump's attacks.

"Voters I talked to recently say they’re 'a little concerned' about DeSantis 'because he’s still establishment,' and that 'he seems like more of an open-borders, Paul Ryan kind of guy,'" she writes. "Others called him 'more of a politician than Trump is' and said 'he is very much one of those political, swampy guys.' Words that stood out when we asked voters to describe DeSantis: 'wishy-washy' 'a little shady,' and 'not trustworthy.'"

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Although many Republicans are in denial about Trump's iron grip on their party, one clear-eyed GOP strategist acknowledged to Longwell the party is "never going back" from him.

Longwell predicts that this reality will finally sink in for Republicans as Trump systematically stomps out more mainstream favorites throughout the 2024 primary.

"The question, then, will be what... Republican politics evolves into once everyone in the Republican party understands that [Trump] is the future," she concludes. "The answer isn’t likely to be pretty."