In the wake of the release of the 2005 video of Donald Trump casually talking about how he sexually assaults women, responses from other members of his party came quickly. Many Republicans condemned the content of Trump's comments in stark terms without actually weighing in on his candidacy. (This was the most common response from members of the party's congressional leadership.) Others, who had not been public about whether they backed Trump, came out formally in opposition. Some who had backed Trump rescinded those endorsements.
We've been collecting some of those responses, many of which have been made over social media. Daniel Nichanian (whom you may remember from his excellent work tracking delegates during the primaries) has been diving deep into the subject. By his estimates, 39 percent of Republican women serving in the House, in the Senate and as governors have said they don't back Trump. In the Senate?
The latest: 30% of the GOP Senate caucus is not supporting Trump (16 of 54); that includes 19% of men and 83% of women.
— Taniel (@Taniel) October 9, 2016
The sole Republican female senator who hasn't said she won't vote for Trump is Joni Ernst of Iowa. But that's of a fairly small number of Republican women serving in that body.
In the House, we can get a more nuanced picture of who has reacted to the Trump tape, how and why. We took Nichanian's list and matched it to Cook Political Report's most recent Partisan Voting Index, a measure of the partisanship of each of the House's 435 seats. Most Republican seats lean Republican, unsurprisingly. Here's how the responses are clustered.
Responses have mostly come from those near the dividing line between Democratic- and Republican-leaning districts — which is to say, from swing districts. As you move further down the chart, into more solidly Republican territory, there are fewer red dots. (Darker gray dots indicate a larger number of Republicans from districts that have the same PVI.)
Most Republicans in districts that lean Democratic have spoken out, though not all. Rep. Rob Blum is in Iowa, like Ernst, where Trump is relatively popular. Contrast that with Utah, where three of the state's four House members have declared that they won't vote for Trump (along with one of the state's senators, its governor and its former governor). Joining Utah's Jason Chaffetz as one of the members from a strongly Republican district to speak out against Trump is Louisiana's Steve Scalise — who is a member of the party's leadership.
Tremendous support (except for some Republican "leadership"). Thank you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2016
What this chart suggests is that outrage about Trump's comments hasn't yet permeated to the extent that even Republicans in deep-red districts feel compelled to rush to condemn him. Utah has long been a bastion of anti-Trump sentiment for a variety of reasons, but, for the most part, strongly conservative Republicans aren't yet bailing. That helps explain Speaker Paul Ryan's position: He's in something of a swing district, but his job includes keeping more conservative Republicans on board with the party's policy efforts. So he hasn't walked away from Trump entirely.
That solidity from the far right may also help explain Trump's strategy: Leverage the solidity of his base of support and bring the fight to Hillary Clinton. On Saturday, we articulated the extent to which Trump's support is driven by opposition to Clinton. If he can keep enough Republicans thinking that, no matter how bad he is, Clinton is worse, he can hold on to that base.
The challenge, of course, is that his base isn't enough to win the election.