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Republican Officials Are Stampeding Away From Trump

Most Republican politicians stood by him long after his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States, his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants, his remarks against Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel and other controversies. But the revelation of a video tape in which Donald Trump brags about groping women has left Republican officials scrambling to reassess their relationship with their party’s presidential nominee.

As of early June, only 60 of the 331 GOP governors, U.S. senators and U.S. representatives were holding out on supporting Trump. That number dwindled further throughout the summer as skeptical Republicans such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin rallied to his side. As of earlier this week, all but 45 of those GOP officials were committed to voting for Trump.

But in the hours since The Washington Post published the recording of Trump’s 2005 comments, condemnation quickly poured in from Republican officials. And as FiveThirtyEight contributor Julia Azari wrote, whether GOP politicians condemn Trump’s comments but stick by him or withdraw their support altogether may help determine how harmful the revelations are to Trump’s prospects.

As of 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, 17 Trump-supporting GOP officials had rescinded their support; and 19 called on him to quit the race altogether, according to our count.

The number of GOP officials who are holding out from voting for Trump has increased from 45 to 62. The number of GOP officials who have plainly stated that they will not vote for him — as opposed to staying uncommitted on the matter — has jumped from 17 to 41.

Strikingly, 84 percent of male governors, senators and representatives are supporting Trump, versus only 55 percent of women. And 32 percent of women officials have stated that they are not supporting Trump (as opposed to just voicing ambivalence), versus just 10 percent of men.

But let’s take a closer look at who has shifted their position (so far).

Of the 17 Republicans who have withdrawn their support for Trump, three are from Utah: Gov. Gary Herbert, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Chris Stewart. (Stewart once compared Trump to Benito Mussolini before announcing he would vote him anyway.)

Six U.S. senators have rescinded their support:1 Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mike Crapo of Idaho, John Thune of South Dakota and Dan Sullivan of Alaska. So have Alabama Reps. Martha Roby and Bradley Byrne, Nevada Reps. Joe Heck and Cresent Hardy, as well as Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois and Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rep. Mia Love of Utah, who had remained uncommitted until now, also announced that they would not vote Trump. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard also called on Trump to leave the race.

Ayotte and Heck are running in highly competitive Senate elections this November. In fact, Ayotte was embroiled in controversy earlier this week when she agreed that Trump would be a good role model for children; Democrats were already running a television ad attacking her over this.

But the most common strategy among Trump-supporting Republicans, at least so far, was to denounce Trump’s comments without rescinding support. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John McCain of Arizona, David Perdue of Georgia, Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, are in this category, as is the House leadership team of Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington. All remain committed to voting for Trump at this point.

Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, who were already against Trump, used this as an opportunity to reiterate their position against him.

Some took it further and called on Trump to step aside altogether, a dramatic move as it is too late to replace him on the ballot. They are Murkowski, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan. Coffman and Comstock are running tough re-election races this fall in suburban districts in which Trump is expected to perform poorly.

And some Republicans who supported Trump before the tape — Byrne, Crapo, Fischer, Roby, Stewart and Wagner — skipped the withdrawing support stage and went all the way to calling for his withdrawal.

And the trend is accelerating.


  1. We’re counting John Thune, Deb Fischer, Shelley Moore Capito and Scott Garrett in this category, who called on Trump to quit the race but did not say specifically whether they would still vote for him if he stays in.

Daniel Nichanian is a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in political science at the University of Chicago