Republican voters are feeling a tad deflated about the state of their party, according to new polling out from the AP-NORC.
The survey showed that less than half of Republicans said they were optimistic about the state of the GOP—just 41%, with only 13% saying they’re “very” optimistic. One-third came right out and said they were pessimistic.
The problem for the party really seems to come down to one person: Donald Trump. While he continues to be popular with most GOP voters, he also has a depressive effect on the party more broadly. According to the survey, 76% of Republicans still view him favorably. But when it comes to his level of involvement in the party, Republicans are torn: 47% want Trump to have “a lot” of influence over the direction the party, 34% say a little, and 18% say they don’t want Trump to have any influence at all.
That 18% sliver of GOP voters who’d like to rid the entire party of Trump has remained notably consistent since the beginning of the year. In February, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found what while 59% of Republicans wanted Trump to play a “major role” in the party, 17% said they “no longer” wanted to him play any role.
Interviews conducted for the AP survey suggest Trump’s divisiveness and baseless election lies could depress GOP voting on both ends of the Trump spectrum—among his most devout followers and never-Trumpers alike.
Nicholas Blethrow, a 28-year old Republican who lives in Orange County, California, called the party “pretty much a disaster” and said its continuing efforts to overturn the 2020 election were “ridiculous.”
“Clearly there’s a lot of people that enjoy him. But I don’t think it’s good,” Blethrow said.
Reedsville, Wisconsin, native Dennis Herzog, 36, identified as a staunch Republican but also said he has found the constant tension between the parties exhausting and is dismayed by “the whole system in general.”
“It’s nonstop,” Herzog said. “I don’t care who is in office. Just do what’s right for the people and stop picking certain sides.”
The repeated takeaway from polling about Trump is the fact that while he remains a powerful figure in the Republican Party, his dominant presence also poses real challenges for the GOP. While Washington Republicans keep trying to will Trump into talking about the future, his constant harping on the 2020 election continues to sow doubt in the electoral system among his followers. At the same time, some noteworthy sliver of GOP voters wishes he would just dry up and go away, even as their party goes all in on his antics.
Ideally, at this point, GOP voters would be galvanizing against President Joe Biden, but Trump is still hogging the spotlight—and that could prove detrimental to GOP hopes heading into 2022.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.