A GOLDEN IDOL of former President Donald Trump is on display this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the premier annual conference for Republican and conservative lawmakers, activists and media talking heads. Mr Trump is expected to give a keynote speech on February 28th in which he will deride President Joe Biden’s immigration policy and, perhaps, announce his candidacy for the 2024 Republican nomination. There can be no doubt Republican voters will welcome their leader back to public life with open arms, given the stranglehold that loyalty to Mr Trump has over the party.
A survey conducted by YouGov for The Economist found that 30% of adults who identified themselves as Republicans, or Independents who leaned more toward the Republicans than the Democrats, said they would “definitely” vote for a candidate for Congress or governor who had been endorsed by Mr Trump (see chart). An additional 29% said that they would be more likely to vote for someone endorsed by the former president than one who had not been. Only 5% of Republicans said that they would be less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Mr Trump.
The Republicans polled by YouGov also expressed a deep reluctance to vote for candidates who had criticised Mr Trump (the survey question did not specify in what way). Only 23% of GOP voters expressed a willingness to elect a critic; 45% said they would not. Expressed as a proportion of all respondents who took a position—a full 31% said they “weren’t sure”—roughly two-thirds of Republicans say they would not vote for Mr Trump’s detractors.
Given that Republican voters are so warm to the former president and so hostile to anyone who disapproves of him, it is not surprising that so few of the party’s leaders voted to convict Mr Trump in his second impeachment trial, held earlier this month. Mr Trump may have led his party into the wilderness, but they seem to like it there.