Trump’s Exhausted Party: GOP Focus Group Report

Democracy Corps just completed our first focus groups of the 2020 election with Republicans and Republican defectors, and this year’s referendum on President Trump threatens to reach even deeper into the Republican Party than the 2018 blue wave. These focus groups provide our first window into the factions pulling off Donald Trump and why.But Trump will not be comfortable with the cracks in the GOP that can translate into more voters pulling off Trump and more supporting Joe Biden than supported Clinton four years ago.

The GOP Catholic women were a surprise, as Trump had consolidated them in our research. The shedding of moderates may be accelerating. Our polls already showed the moderates had fallen to 15 percent of Republicans, but the campaign relaunch in Topeka where he doubled down on division and coronavirus and science denial, they moved even further. The groups showed real slippage with McCain conservatives and more willingness to vote for Biden than Clinton, though only our full national survey will tell the level of defection.

Why are the fractures in the GOP growing and more voters willing to vote for Joe Biden?

First, Republicans themselves feel “worried and “frustrated” and sound as exhausted as the rest of the country by the unfinished crises, the uncertainty and inability to believe anything, and the deep divisions and polarization. They long for leaders who will rise above the infighting and show us how he or she will unite the country.

Second, many Republicans believe Trump is failing as a leader, even if they are still determined to vote for him. They want America to be better than this.

Third, more and more Republican voters watch President Trump make politics “all about himself,” rather than leading on urgent issues or working for the whole country.

Fourth, Biden has emerged as a comfortable figure during deeply uncertain times. He is well known, tested, and represents experience and stability to many people in these groups, including the majority who are not supporting him. He looks plausible for many disaffected Republicans who are so exhausted with the divisiveness and chaos of Trump’s presidency.

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