Today’s big question

How popular is Donald Trump?

The Capitol riot hearings have damaged Trump’s popularity and cost him a major media ally

Donald Trump won a standing ovation after repeating his 2020 election rigging claims at a rally of young conservatives in Florida over the weekend. 

The rapturous response at the Student Action Summit in Tampa was “a departure from the lacklustre reception” to his claims about the 2020 presidential race at other recent campaign rallies, said the Daily Mail.

Recent polls suggest that Trump’s popularity has been dented by the hearings of the congressional inquiry exploring the 6 January riot at the US Capitol. The former president was booed at a rally in Arizona on Friday – and has also lost the support of a key media ally.

‘Drip-drip’ damage

Latest opinion polls indicate that the “relentless drip-drip of damaging details” at the hearings has “certainly had some impact” on Republican views of Trump, said The New Yorker’s John Cassidy.

A Reuters/Ipsos survey showed that 40% of self-identified Republicans now believe Trump was at least partly to blame for the Capitol Hill violence, “up from 33% before the hearings began”, wrote Cassidy. And the proportion of Republicans who said they thought Trump shouldn’t run again has also risen, from a quarter to a third.

The poll results show that Republican views on Trump have “darkened somewhat over six weeks of televised congressional hearings”, said Reuters.

New York Times/Siena College poll earlier this month also made for depressing reading for Trump. Nearly half of the Republicans quizzed said they would vote for someone other than him in a primary. Among respondents under 35, the proportion rose to nearly two-thirds.

However, the RealClearPolitics poll average, which combines the results of individual studies, found that Trump’s overall favourability rating has only dropped by about two percentage points since the televised hearings began.

 A “supermajority of Republicans believe Trump’s lie” that the 2020 election was stolen, wrote New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait. “And if you believe it, you are perfectly rational to select a candidate who will acknowledge the crime and do everything to prevent it from reoccurring.”

Republican anxiety

As the hearings pause for a summer break, a growing number of Republicans are being encouraged to join the race to become the next presidential candidate. Some in the party are “increasingly anxious” about the idea of Trump being their nominee again, said CNN.

Dan Crenshaw, a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told the news channel that there were a “lot of good options” and that he hoped “they all jump in”. The Republican whip in the Senate, John Thune, agreed that there were “other attractive” candidates for 2024 besides Trump.

One has already leapt to the front of the pack: Ron DeSantis, Trump’s strongest potential rival, is “effectively tied” with the former president in recent polls of New Hampshire and Michigan, and “leading him easily” in Florida, The New York Times’ Ross Douthat reported.

Excoriating indictment

Trump also seems to have lost the support of a significant media backer. US media circles were “rocked” over weekend after a US tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch issued an “excoriating editorial indictment” of Trump’s failure to stop the 6 January attack on the US Capitol, said The Guardian.

The New York Post editorial said that “as a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again”.

And Murdoch’s US broadsheet The Wall Street Journal said that the evidence before the investigation was a reminder that “Trump betrayed his supporters”.

The media mogul’s about-turn came days after Liz Cheney, the Republican vice-chair of the Capitol inquiry, described Trump’s actions on the day as “indefensible”. He “made a purposeful choice to violate his oath of office” and “threaten our constitutional order”, Cheney said.

Her words were a “clear signal to US voters that Trump’s actions during the siege should disqualify him from running for president again in 2024”, said the Financial Times.

You like me, right?

While Trump was cheered by young supporters in Florida on Saturday, he met with a more mixed reception the day before in Arizona.

Cheers turned to boos when the former US leader told a rally in Prescott Valley that he was endorsing Eli Crane, who is running in the Republican congressional primaries. Crane has been accused of being a “carpetbagger” who has never lived in the district that he seeks to represent.

Trump “looked somewhat taken aback by the reaction and awkwardly smiled”, The Independent reported. “But you like me, right?” he asked the crowd.

The answer to that question could determine whether he gets the chance to reprise his role as president.

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