Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster who helped elect President Trump in 2016 by targeting the Democrats’ “blue wall” for weaknesses, attempted to humble the White House’s critics today with a very early 2020 primary poll.
It didn’t necessarily work as planned.
In a tweet, Fabrizio shared answers from a new national survey of Republican voters, one of them asking whether they would support the president for renomination. “So much for the ‘buyer’s remorse’ that DC insiders are convinced the GOP has,” Fabrizio wrote.
But the poll itself found the president in a surprisingly weak position, with just 50 percent of all Republican voters — 54 percent of those certain to vote in a primary — supporting another Trump nomination. Twenty-four percent backed either Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), the last rivals standing in the 2016 Republicans primaries. Two percent backed either Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) or Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one a Trump critic, one a rising star; 24 percent were wholly undecided.
— Tony Fabrizio (@TonyFabrizioGOP) August 23, 2017
Trump’s louder critics, however, focused on the high number of Republicans open to a Trump alternative. There’s little precedent for that much resistance to an incumbent president just eight months into his term. A November 2010 poll, taken after Democrats had lost President Barack Obama’s first midterm by a landslide, found 64 percent of Democrats ready to renominate the president, 16 percent favoring 2008 rival Hillary Clinton and 14 percent undecided.
There was not then, as there is now, a punchy group of partisans talking about ousting the incumbent from inside his party. The first Twitter responses to Fabrizio came from #NeverTrump conservatives feeling good about the trendline.
That Trump's pollsters chose to do this primary poll & release it triumphally when it has the incumbent at a mere 50%, shows near-panic. https://t.co/4N7XQdgY8i
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) August 23, 2017
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) August 23, 2017
But further down in the survey, Fabrizio revealed that even Republicans on the fence about 2020 were putting blame for inaction in Washington on the rest of the party.