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The 7 Levels Of Trump Support In Congress

The Republican National Convention is shaping up to be a full-throated endorsement of nominee Donald Trump and his brand of Republicanism. Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border was welcomed into the GOP’s platform; the structure of the convention itself is based on a set of permutations to Trump’s campaign slogan; and the Dump Trump movement, between losing key votes on the Rules Committee last week and failing to force a state-by-state approval of convention rules on Monday, is basically dead.

So Trump is the official standard-bearer of the Republican Party. How do Republicans in Congress feel about that?

That’s actually a somewhat complicated question. But our friends at Cook Political Report, including FiveThirtyEight contributor David Wasserman, have analyzed public statements (or noted the lack thereof) from all 301 Republicans in the House and Senate and classified each congressperson’s degree of support for Trump into one of seven categories, from “True Believer” to “Trump Snubber.” Here’s the breakdown:

True Believers

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The True Believers endorsed Trump before the Indiana primary on May 3 (after which, a Trump nomination was all but inevitable). One of the earliest congressmen to jump on the Trump bandwagon was Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was reportedly on Trump’s VP shortlist and spoke at the convention on Monday.

Eager Unifiers

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The Eager Unifiers have endorsed Trump wholeheartedly, but they didn’t do so until after Indiana. Orrin Hatch, a senator from Utah, is a prime example. In a statement in mid-May, he wrote: “Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, I will do what I can to help him run a successful campaign.”

Reluctant Endorsers

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A Reluctant Endorser has expressed support for Donald Trump by name — with reservations. A popular quip among Reluctant Endorsers: “I’m not sure I can trust Donald Trump to always do the right thing. I am certain I can trust Mrs. Clinton to do the wrong thing.”1

Non-Namers

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Non-namers have stated support for “the Republican nominee” but balk when asked if that means they support Donald Trump. A lot of Republican senators fall into this category.

Quiet Observers

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Quiet Observers haven’t made a public statement one way or another.

Hesitant Holdouts

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Hesitant Holdouts are publicly undecided on whether to support Trump. Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, who ran against Trump in the Republican primary declared on May 10, “I think we need to watch and see what the candidates say and do.” We’ll see if Cruz joins with the Eager Unifiers, or maybe the Non-Namers, when he speaks at the Republicans’ convention Wednesday night.

Trump Snubbers

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As the name suggests, Trump Snubbers have publicly said they will not be voting for Trump. The most high-profile snubber in Congress is Sen. Lindsey Graham, another of Trump’s primary opponents. “It’s not just about the 2016 race, it’s about the future of the party and I would like to support our nominee. I just can’t,” Graham said on June 7.

The breakdown gets a little more interesting when you compare the two chambers of Congress. Republican senators are much more likely to have endorsed their party’s nominee without mentioning him by name than their more tea-partyish colleagues in the House.

HOUSE
247 REPUBLICANS
SENATE
54 REPUBLICANS
True Believers 4.5%
3.7%
Eager Unifiers 27.9
16.7
Reluctant Endorsers 27.5
24.1
Non-Namers 18.6
38.9
Quiet Observers 8.5
0.0
Hesitant Holdouts 8.1
11.1
Trump Snubbers 4.9
5.6
Positions on Trump differ in the House and Senate
Congressional Republicans’ public stances on their party’s nominee

BASED ON DATA FROM COOK POLITICAL REPORT

Another way of slicing this data is along party lines. If you look at the Cook partisan voting index, there’s a pretty clear difference between politicians who represent areas that lean Republican and those who lean Democratic.

MORE REPUBLICAN DISTRICTS*
243 REPUBLICANS
LESS REPUBLICAN DISTRICTS
58 REPUBLICANS
True Believers 4.9%
1.7%
Eager Unifiers 29.2
12.1
Reluctant Endorsers 29.6
15.5
Non-Namers 20.2
31.0
Quiet Observers 7.8
3.4
Hesitant Holdouts 5.8
20.7
Trump Snubbers 2.5
15.5
Positions on Trump vary by district Partisan Voting Index
Congressional Republicans’ public stances on their party’s nominee

*”More Republican” districts have a Partisan Voting Index of R+4 or more Republican. “Less Republican” districts have a PVI of R+3 or less Republican. A senator’s district is his or her entire state.

BASED ON DATA FROM COOK POLITICAL REPORT

See where your representative or senator stands in the table below:



CORRECTION (July 20, 5:35 p.m.): An earlier version of the charts and tables in this article placed Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan in the wrong category of Trump support. At the convention on Monday night, he endorsed Trump, so he is now a Reluctant Endorser, not a Trump Snubber. The charts and tables have been adjusted accordingly.

CORRECTION (July 20, 8:15 p.m.): An earlier version of the charts and tables in this article placed Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada in the wrong category of Trump support. He endorsed Trump by name last month, so he is now a Reluctant Endorser, not a Non-namer. The charts and tables have been adjusted accordingly.

The Cook Political Report’s Ally Flinn, David Wasserman, Mac Andrews, Jack Maestri, David Cohn and Emily Kaye contributed research.

Footnotes

  1. Steve Russell (Oklahoma’s 5th district), Tom McClintock (California’s 4th district) and Trent Franks (Arizona’s 8th district) have all made similar statements.

Ritchie King is senior editor for data visualization at FiveThirtyEight.

Kshitij Aranke is a former visual journalism intern at FiveThirtyEight.

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