Change from ideology…..
Ass kissing Trump….
At first, Trump seemed like an unlikely candidate to redefine conservative politics. In 2016, he was pilloried as insufficiently conservative by some quarters of the GOP after supporting tax hikes on the wealthy and pledging to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Voters didn’t think of Trump as that conservative. Senators who were widely regarded as conservatives, like Sens. Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake, said they wouldn’t vote for him.
Ultimately, Trump’s nomination and subsequent election set up a fight within the Republican Party over what the party stood for — a fight the former president seems to have won. In fact, we found in our research both in 2016 and 2021 that Trump’s influence on the party has started to redefine what it means to be “conservative.”….
A few key findings immediately stand out. First, in looking just at our 2021 survey data, a politician’s support for Trump has come to define who party activists think of as conservative. Romney, Toomey and Sasse were all rated as fairly liberal Republicans despite their conservative voting records in Congress, according to DW-Nominate, which quantifies the ideology of every member of Congress based on roll call votes cast in a legislative session. Staunchly pro-Trump politicians (or Trump-adjacent politicians), like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sens. Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Lindsey Graham, and Trump were all clustered together on the more conservative end of the spectrum, even though there is quite a bit of difference, ideologically speaking, between these men. Pence, for instance, stands out for having established a very conservative track record pre-Trump whereas Cotton, Graham, Hawley and DeSantis’s claims to being so conservative are more closely linked to their connection to Trump. What seems to matter more is not so much one’s voting record in the pre-Trump era as one’s relationship to Trump….
The hard part of this for Republicans is how does the party appeal to those who do NOT LIKE Trump outside of Red States?