The Blurred Political Line Between Donald Trump and the Republican Party

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

I noticed something earlier today while watching some of the videos coming out of the Bronx rally for Donald Trump. I didn't get the sense that I was watching scenes from a Republican rally. 

Earlier on Friday, I wrote an article detailing just how embarrassing things are getting for Democrats with the Bronx rally at the center of it. I couldn't help but see it as something of a microcosm of American politics right now, but one that struck me was the amount of people who were at that rally who said "I'm a Democrat." 

(READ: Woe Is Joe: This Is Just Getting Embarrassing for Democrats)

What they didn't say in these videos was "I'm now a Republican." They identified confidently as Democrats. If they said they planned on undergoing a party swap, it wasn't covered on camera. The important thing is that they never said "I was." The phrase they used was "I am."

Interestingly, polling says that when it comes to party affiliation, Democrats and Republicans are still neck and neck with Democrats having a one-point advantage. According to Pew Research, 49% of registered voters identify as Democrats or lean towards the Democratic Party, while 48% identify as Republicans or lean towards the Republican Party. 

Yet, we know a shift of Democrats leaning toward Trump is happening. 

For instance, black voters are still predominantly Democrat by 80 percent, but Trump's support among the black community is now at 22 percent, up from a meager 8 percent in 2020. 

Around 80 percent of the voters in the Bronx are Democrats, yet Trump had somewhere around 10,000 people at his Bronx rally, with some saying it would have been far more if they could have gotten into the rally space. 

Trump seems to be benefiting from a blurred line in terms of party affiliation. When people look at him, they don't see a Republican candidate...they just see Trump. I noticed that I had that same feeling myself on various occasions when talking or writing about Trump. There's some sort of mental divorce that takes place. 

Perhaps it's because the Republican Party has, on occasion, done its best to fight Trump despite him being of their own party. Perhaps Trump's populism differentiates him from the Republican's typical feeling of being disjointed and segmented. Where Republicans were always prim and proper, Trump is just...not. He's unfiltered whereas politicians typically enslave themselves to careful messaging. 

In the minds of voters, he may be running for office but he's not a politician. He's not one of them. 

He didn't even do too much to get that status. The Democrats and the media did that for him with all their attacks. 

Of course, it likely helps that Trump is running against a man that America sees as largely at fault for their economic woes. No matter your race, religion, or class, a bad economy affects everyone. That's the real common language in politics by a mile. 

Trump might have watched as his economy dipped during the pandemic, but many people remember the time before that when he had it roaring, especially the black community and non-college-educated Americans, apparently. 

Does this mean that Republicans are going to see a boost in 2024, or even maintain that boost going forward? 

My prediction is that in 2024, you will see Republicans succeed but by virtue of the fact that Democrats have severely fouled up everything from education to the economy. But over the long term, I'm not so sure. 

Trump and the Republican Party are on the same team but they're not the same entity. If Trump wins in 2024, Republicans will be hard-pressed to keep many of the voters he won unless they're able to adopt the same attitude and strategies he did. They'd have to somehow convince voters that the Republican Party has changed into something more akin to a Trump-esque Party.

I don't see that happening given how split the Republican Party is about Trump overall. 

But who knows how Trump will affect the Party over the next four years if he does win. It would behoove the Republicans to at least pick up some of his tricks if they want to continue to attract non-Republicans into the big tent. 

But as it stands, the Republican Party seems to be riding in the back seat of Trump's car. 


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