Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.
Cheney and Greene each carried the day among the House Republicans, but the Georgia freshman actually garnered more of their backing. Cheney’s upward arc is done, while Greene is free to embark on an endless fundraising binge and tweet to her heart’s content. Freedom can be another word for nothing left to lose.
Indeed, on the state level, religious-like devotion to Trump is the operative creed of the realm. Those who refuse to kiss the ring are the new heretics.
Arizona Republicans censured Cindy McCain, the late senator’s wife, for backing Joe Biden. They also blasted Doug Ducey, the state’s Republican governor, for refusing to steal the election.
In Wyoming, 10 Republican county organizations have censured Cheney for supporting Trump’s impeachment, and more are expected in the coming weeks. Already, Cheney faces a primary challenge.
Meanwhile, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse confronts possible censure in his home state. He earned their wrath for condemning Trump’s efforts to subvert democracy. Once upon a time, Sasse wrote a book subtitled Why We Hate Each Other.
Take a look at a Quinnipiac University poll out this week. It tested the ratings of different leaders.
McConnell came in with just a 21% approval to 67% disapproval rating among Americans at-large. He sported the lowest approval and highest disapproval rating of any of the party leaders in Congress.
Even among Republicans, he came in with just a 31% approval rating compared to a 51% unfavorable rating. (CNN/SSRS showed his favorable rating among Republicans somewhat higher in January, though still under his unfavorable rating.) McConnell ended his time as Senate majority leader with the worst intraparty ratings for a Senate majority leader since 1985.
Now compare where McConnell is to Trump. In the same CNN poll, Trump came in with a 34% approval rating and a 62% disapproval rating. With Republicans, he was at 80% approval to 17% disapproval. This comports with Trump remaining in a strong position for the 2024 nomination.
Clearly, Republican prefer Trump to McConnell.
You won't find another party leader in Congress who sports a net negative approval rating among their own party, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has worked to navigate between the different wings of the party. He voted to sustain the objections to the electoral votes from Pennsylvania, for example.
Many have critiqued McCarthy, though his efforts have resulted in him being far better liked among Republicans. In the Quinnipiac poll, for example, his approval rating among Republicans stood at 47% to a 25% disapproval rating.
Following Biden's victory, Republican leaders encouraged Trump's strongman posture by facilitating his lies that the election had been stolen. With the electorate drifting against them, they now seek to make it harder to vote.
Republican militancy creates ferocious headwinds against any Biden attempt at bipartisan compromise. "He has to deal with an increasing number who operate outside any traditional definition of conservatism," says Phil Schiliro, who served as Obama's liaison to Congress. "That's an enormous challenge."
Ten of 50 Republican senators made Biden an initial Covid-relief offer nowhere near the new President's proposal. More, heeding the demands of their inflamed rank and file, have offered instant hostility; Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio accused Biden of having "governed from the radical left" less than 48 hours into his term.