Trump dominant in telling new poll
Donald Trump is still a dominant force in the Republican Party and would win its 2024 presidential nomination in a landslide if the voters were choosing today, according to a telling new poll.
On Saturday, seven members of the former president's own party voted to convict him in his impeachment trial. Conviction would almost certainly have resulted in him being barred from running for office again.
It didn't happen - the 57-43 margin in the Senate fell well short of the 67 guilty votes needed - which means Mr Trump's future, should he decide to run again, is up to the voters.
The fresh poll today from Politico/Morning Consult shows those Republican voters would overwhelmingly pick him again.
Respondents were asked to name their favoured candidate for the 2024 nomination. Obviously, we're years away from the Republican primaries at this point, so these numbers could change. But as things stand, Mr Trump is the runaway favourite with 53 per cent.
Mr Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, is in second place with 12 per cent. He's followed by Donald Trump Jr (6 per cent); former UN ambassador Nikki Haley (6); Senators Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz (4); Senator Marco Rubio (2); former secretary of state Mike Pompeo (2); and a cluster of people on 1 per cent, including Senators Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton, and state Governors Kristi Noem and Larry Hogan.
Fifty-nine per cent of Republicans say Mr Trump should continue to play a "major role" in the party, compared to just 17 per cent who say he should have no role whatsoever. That's up form 41 per cent who said the same in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot.
Speaking of which, only 27 per cent of Republicans believe Mr Trump was "at least somewhat" responsible for the riot. Meanwhile, 46 per cent say President Joe Biden, whose election victory the rioters were trying to stop, bears responsibility for the violence.
The poll did survey voters more broadly, among whom Mr Trump's standing is awful. His overall approval rating registered at 34 per cent. But among the Republicans who will decide who leads their party into 2024, his approval was a much healthier 81 per cent.
Of the other potential presidential candidates mentioned, Ms Haley, Mr Romney and Mr Hogan are the only ones who have expressed a desire for the party to move away from Mr Trump's influence.
Ms Haley, a former governor of South Carolina who served as Mr Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, publicly broke from him in a recent interview with Politico.
"We need to acknowledge he let us down," Ms Haley said.
"He went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him, and we shouldn't have listened to him. And we can't let that ever happen again."
Ms Haley is already widely expected to run for president in 2024. She said she did not believe Mr Trump would be a candidate.
"He's not going to run for federal office again," she said.
"I don't think he can. He's fallen so far."
Mr Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee, was one of the seven Republican senators to vote guilty in Mr Trump's impeachment trial. A longtime critic of Mr Trump, Mr Romney was also the only Republican to vote guilty in his first trial a year ago.
"President Trump incited the insurrection against Congress by using the power of his office to summon his supporters to Washington on January 6th and urging them to march on the Capitol during the counting of electoral votes," Mr Romney said in a statement explaining his vote to convict.
"He did this despite the obvious and well known threats of violence that day.
"President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the vice president, and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction."
Speaking to NBC after the trial, Mr Hogan said he believed there would be a "real battle for the soul of the Republican Party" in the coming months.
"We're going to figure out whether we're going to be a party that can win elections or not," said Mr Hogan, who is Governor of Democratic-leaning Maryland.
Host Chuck Todd asked whether the party could find success "without distancing itself" from the former president.
"I don't think they can," he replied.
"I think the party has a winning message. We just had a bad messenger, and I think we've got to move on from the cult of Donald Trump and return to the basic principles the party has always stood for."
He made similar remarks to CNN.
"We're going to have a real battle for the soul of the Republican Party."— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 14, 2021
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tells CNN's @JakeTapper he thinks the final chapter of Donald Trump and where the Republican Party goes hasn't been written yet. #CNNSOTU https://t.co/mVKIu6W8KO pic.twitter.com/ibceHLwhaT
Every other name on the list of potential candidates is a supporter of Mr Trump.
Mr Pence was a loyal vice president for four years, though his relationship with Mr Trump soured at the end, as Mr Pence refused to unilaterally (and illegally) overturn the election result during the joint session of Congress on January 6.
The pair did not speak for days after the riot, during which some of Mr Trump's supporters chanted about hanging Mr Pence as a "traitor".
Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton all voted to acquit Mr Trump during the impeachment trial. Mr Cruz went so far as to give advice to the former president's defence team throughout proceedings.
Mike Pompeo was Mr Trump's second secretary of state, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was one of his most vociferous defenders in the media throughout last year's election campaign.
Donald Jr, of course, is Mr Trump's eldest son. His immediate reaction to the acquittal on Saturday was to lash out at the Republicans who voted guilty.
"You obviously had the typical, the loser Republicans that couldn't get elected dog catcher today," he said.
"The ones that are so weak, like the Mitt Romneys of the world. With Republicans like Mitt Romney, who needs Democrats. Those clowns."
Originally published as Trump dominant in telling new poll