It’s still more than three years before the Republican party determines its next presidential nominee, but that doesn’t stop the folks at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, from polling their attendees about their preferences for the right person to compete in the next contest.
Given that most of the attendees seem to believe that Donald Trump actually won the most recent election, one could immediately discount the predictive abilities of such an unscientific sampling of the electorate as less than informative.
Nonetheless, it isn’t surprising to find out that Trump handily won the straw poll with 55% of the votes that were presumably handled by something other than a ballot machine running Dominion voting software.
It was a contradictory result given that so many of the CPAC attendees believe, like Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue, that Trump is currently still the legitimate president which if it were actually true would disqualify him from running for a third term, but no one ever accused the people who come to CPAC of being paragons of consistency (other than being consistently wrong).
Still, given that 95% of the people at CPAC said they wanted the party to continue his policies and that 70% said that they wanted to see him run again, the fact that only 55% said that they would vote for him in 2024 seems like the “former guy’s” support is actually not as strong as it may have otherwise seemed.
The mediocre showing by Trump has led to observers making some diametrically opposed conclusions about the meaning of the results.
Trump wins CPAC straw poll with 55% of the vote.
The GOP is the party of Trump
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) February 28, 2021
Straw poll results at @CPAC today were telling. Only 55% of the GOP’s most loyal activists said they’d vote for him in the primaries given other choices, and only 68% want him to run at all. It’s still “his party,” but there’s a growing number ready for something new.
— Evan McMullin 🇺🇸 (@EvanMcMullin) February 28, 2021
Still, a look at the runners-up in the CPAC straw poll indicates that any version of “something new” that they may be interested in is practically identical to the man who has dominated the Republican Party for the past four years.
#CPAC2021 poll w/o Trump
Ron DeSantis: 43%
Kristi Noem: 11%
Don Jr: 8%
Mike Pompeo: 7%
Ted Cruz: 7%
Tucker Carlson: 3%
Josh Hawley: 3%
Nikki Haley: 3%
Rand Paul: 2%
… and Mike Pence: 1%
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) February 28, 2021
With deplorable Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis as the top pick for the nomination besides Trump himself among CPAC attendees and South Dakota’s ultra-right-wing Governor Kristi Noem in a distant third place, it seems that former Vice President Mike Pence really screwed the pooch with this set of voters by deciding that it was the wrong move to defy the Consitution and to try to throw the electoral vote count to the man who accumulated fewer votes than the actual winner, given his earning of a measly 1% of the balloting.
Pence’s dismal reception to the idea of Mike Pence representing the GOP in the next presidential election — an even poorer showing than political neophyte Ivanka Trump, Fox News mouthpiece Tucker Carlson, and a panoply of seditious Republican politicians — shows just how much Pence’s one-time display of integrity has cost him among the right-wing extremists who were once his natural constituency.
Still, three and a half years is a long time from now and the political scene can change dramatically during that time.
If Donald Trump is finally held accountable for his multiple crimes by state and federal prosecutors, he may find it difficult to mount a presidential bid from a prison cell, opening the field to any number of GOP presidential hopefuls.
Whether Mike Pence could then revive his standing among those MAGA supporters who now consider him a traitor to their cause remains to be seen, but unless the Republicans manage to nominate someone who can exceed Trump’s tenure-long sub-50% approval rating, we can expect another election plagued by phony accusations of voter fraud in 2024 as well.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.