Republican county chairmen across the country were just asked by Politico about their presidential preferences. One question was a bit of a curveball: name somebody they “definitely did not want” as nominee. First place, in a runaway, was Chris Christie, who pulled 55 percent. You’d think no one could come close, but you forgot the existence of Donald Trump Jr. He’s in the mix and he scored 51 percent for second place. After that a drop-off, then Mike Pence at 43 percent, and Donald Trump Sr., 39 percent. All this is based on the chairmen who responded to Politico’s survey, meaning 187 people out of almost 3000 contacted. “It’s fewer than I would have liked, but it’s certainly enough to conduct a statistically useful analysis,” says Seth Masket, writer of the article and the man behind the survey.
If Masket’s right, Trump finds himself in one hell of a place. Two years and two months ago he was the Republicans’ man in the White House. Now two-fifths of the party’s county chairmen rule him out as nominee. If they were just looking for someone else, that would be bad enough. Instead they’re saying never again, and saying it about their ex-leader, his vice president, and his son. Whereas Ron DeSantis does well with the chairmen. Just nine percent rule him out, a showing that puts him at the bottom of the no-consider list and double digits below such Trump alternatives as Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley. For what’s it worth, only 19 percent said DeSantis was actually their pick, as opposed to someone they’d consider, and 17 percent of the chairmen chose Trump instead. “Just about half reported that they are currently uncommitted to a candidate,” Masket writes.
But one thing they know: they don’t want Chris Christie. He thinks he’s got a shot. Again per Politico, donors in Austin heard Christie lay into Trump (“losing and losing and losing and losing”) while taking sideswipes at DeSantis (down there in Tallahassee and the guy wants to talk foreign affairs). Christie had them shouting at the donor fest, one reads. Meanwhile, the people at the top of the grassroots, the leaders of local opinion, are saying no. Or about 103 of them are saying it. Possibly at some point Christie had business with each of the 103 on the phone.
To even approach Christie’s score, Trump had to extort Ukraine, bungle Covid, provoke the January 6 riot, and boot a string of Senate races, including three in a single state. Christie outperformed him with the simple resources of the New Jersey governor’s office and one man’s personality. The Republicans can boast a rich legacy of awfulness in Trump and the Trump family. But take that family away and there are reserves of awfulness beyond, and it’s enough to stagger insiders.
Flashback. The straw-haired speaker reminisces about a big strong man, you wouldn’t believe it, business leader, if he told you the guy’s name, strong, this man said to him President—they’re friends, he used to call him Donald, now he says President—he says President, how do you get up every day, how do you get up in the morning knowing what they’re going to do, the liars in the press, what they’re going to direct at you, how do you do that, I don’t know how you do that, how do you.