Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Republicans Are Worried That Without Trump on the Ballot, Turnout Would Nosedive

Republican strategists are scared that if Donald Trump isn't on the ballot next year, either voluntarily or involuntarily, turnout of his base could collapse, endangering Republicans up and down the ballot. Trump could drop off the ballot voluntarily as part of a plea deal or because he simply prioritizes focusing on avoiding conviction anywhere. He could be pushed off if he is convicted in the spring, loses all the appeals quickly, and Ronna Romney McDaniel changes the RNC's rules to allow all bound delegates to become free agents and they pick someone else because they think Trump can't win.

GOP strategists think that something like 25-35% of Republican voters would react very strongly to Trump not being on the ballot. They could take their balls and go home. If that genuinely happened, no Republican could be elected dogcatcher or anything higher in most places. Democrats could egg this on by running ads showing one stalwart Republican telling his friend that he is not going to vote, just to punish the deep state for forcing Trump off the ballot. Take that, deep state!

This will put McDaniel in a terrible bind if Trump is convicted in the spring or early summer. If she doesn't change the rules and allows a convicted Trump to stay on the ballot, he will lose the general election, but if he is replaced, Republicans may also lose the House, Senate, and statewide offices. She might decide that sacrificing the presidency is the best option for trying to hang onto the House.

Republican strategist Brian Darling said: "If somehow he's not the nominee, it will hurt turnout. He's got a unique coalition. He brings a lot of nontraditional voters to the Republican Party, and it will be difficult to win a state like Ohio and other Midwestern states if you lose all those Trump voters or make them disaffected voters, and they don't show up." Another Republican strategist, Bob Clegg, said: "I would say there's two scenarios, either Trump's the nominee and we just go with it and whatever, or Trump's not the nominee and then we have a nominee that Trump's going to be trashing." That is something McDaniel will have to consider. If she frees the delegates and they pick Ron DeSantis or someone else, Trump is going to dump all over her and the nominee. She'll get a lot of blowback if she frees them. Of course, Lincoln got a lot of blowback in some quarters for freeing the slaves, but he did it anyway.

David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University poll, noted: "The Trump voters, even from our polling, have pretty much said 'It's Trump or bust.' There's a percentage of voters who won't even vote Republican if he doesn't get the nomination." Paleologos put the percentage at 40%. A Siena College poll put the number of only-Trump Republicans at 52%. Of course, talk is cheap and when push comes to shove, even dyed-in-the-wool Trumpists will have to decide if they will really stay home and watch Joe Biden be reelected on Nov. 5, 2024.

Another factor that comes in is abortion. Democrats are going to play that for all it is worth. That will run up turnout for Democrats in suburban areas. Republicans need to counter that with increased turnout in rural areas. Not having Trump on the ballot will make that much harder, probably impossible. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates