Ever since President Trump prevailed in the Republican presidential primaries last summer, and especially in the months following his election last November, hardly a day has gone by without new analysis of what can be called the “Trump Effect”, attempting to explain the ways in which he has fundamentally changed the conservative movement and/or the Republican Party. Whether long-form or short, data-driven or opinion, there is certainly no shortage of takes on the matter. Just this morning, with a few minutes poking around different political newsletters, I found this piece from Reason via The Transom and this Thomas Edsall piece via the New York Times Upshot newsletter. Pair those with this from Stephen Moore at National Review. And this from Politico. And this from Politico. Oh, and this from Politico. Veer into the more the liberal edge of the media spectrum and you’ll discover even more of a rabbit hole (I do not recommend this).
It seems to be a topic of endless fascination, and the fascination is not without merit. Clearly, if one of our two major political parties really has undergone such a fundamental transformation, then that is a story worth telling. Still, one has to wonder how deep the transformation really goes, because when the focus is on how the Republican establishment in Washington is proving malleable during the Trump administration, or on the small part of the conservative movement that attends CPAC, that’s really only telling one part of the story. And here at Magellan, we’d argue it is not the most important part. Instead, we want to know how Republican primary voters view President Trump. If he is going to completely transform the party, the transformation is going to start with voters electing more politicians like him, both locally and federally. And the only way that’s going to happen is if those politicians emerge from Republican primaries. So that’s the big question we need to answer: What do Republican primary voters think of President Trump?
In order to get an answer, last week we conducted a survey of likely Republican primary voters in Colorado. Before we dig into the results, let’s take a look at a comparable datapoint from last June: We have evidence from last year’s cycle showing that they preferred him over Ted Cruz in a head-to-head ballot test (48% to 42% with 10% undecided). This despite the fact that Cruz had won all 34 delegates awarded at the state convention. So at that point, then candidate Trump did not even have majority support in a head-to-head contest with Ted Cruz. That would seem to suggest some hesitation on their part, or at least that there exists a sizable minority who would prefer a more conventional Republican candidate, which is what Cruz represented at that point in the race. Still, needless to say a lot has changed since June 2016. Now that Donald Trump is president, does he have the support of Colorado’s Republican primary voters? The answer is a resounding yes.
Among Republican Primary voters, President Trump has a very high favorability rating across all major demographic groups:
Even among self-identified moderate Republican Primary voters, 61% have a favorable opinion of the president. And across all regions of the state, identified by the seven congressional districts, his favorability ranges from 77% (CD 7) to 91% (CD 4). When looking at the slightly different measurement of the President’s job approval, the findings are very similar:
Clearly, Republican Primary voters not only view President Trump favorably, they are also in favor of his priorities and the policies he has enacted in the first 50 days of his administration. Still, we wanted to dig a bit deeper. There is at least a possibility that, after eight years of President Obama, these voters would support any Republican president, no matter how much they may disagree with him philosophically. Not to mention our June 2016 survey that showed Senator Cruz with 42% support in a head-to-head matchup against Trump. Is that 42% still out there? To find out, we asked the following two questions:
When thinking about who to vote for in the upcoming Republican primary, are you more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports President Trump and his policies?
Thinking now about Republican candidates in the future, which of the following would you prefer: a more traditional Republican candidate, or someone similar to President Trump?
The results, below, show that these voters have significantly less interest in conventional Republican politicians than they did last summer, and they reveal the extent to which President Trump will be a significant figure in future Republican primary elections:
These numbers are important because they show that, yes, President Trump does appear to be transforming the Republican Party in a fundamental way. They provide insight, albeit at an early stage, on the atmosphere for next year’s Republican primaries, from the state legislative level on up to the governor’s race. They show that Colorado’s Republican primary voters appear to be, at this point, completely comfortable with President Trump as their standard bearer. And so it stands to reason that candidates in Republican primaries will be held to the litmus test of whether they support the President and his policies. Still, if Republican primary contests emerge where none of the candidates are positioning themselves as, for lack of a better term, the “Trump” candidate, then this dynamic may not matter. But if a Republican primary features at least one candidate who can realistically make a claim to being the one “Trump” candidate, you can bet that that person will be a force to be reckoned with. The numbers speak for themselves – Republican primary voters support the President, and they want more candidates like him.
The survey results are weighted to reflect the age, gender and regional turnout demographics of past Republican Primary elections in Colorado.
The survey sample was randomly drawn from a Colorado voter file among households containing at least one registered Republican voter. Any questions regarding this survey or our methodology should be directed to David Flaherty. He can be reached at 303-861-8585 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Survey Commissioned By
This survey was not commissioned or paid for by any issue committee, campaign, individual, or independent expenditure group.
About Magellan Strategies
Magellan Strategies offers a wide array of services to candidate campaigns, ballot issue campaigns, government relations firms, trade associations and local and county governments. Our services include polling, survey research, focus groups, voter data mining, voter data analysis and campaign consulting and management. Our offices are located in Louisville, Colorado. To learn more about our company please visit http://www.MagellanStrategies.com or call 303-861-8585.