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Many Republicans worried about the future of the party

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WASHINGTON (AP) Most Republicans want former President Donald Trump to at least have some influence over their party leadership, although many who side with the GOP say they are worried about his future.

A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research captures widespread unease among Republicans about everything from the country’s leadership to the state of America’s democracy and, in particular, President Joe Biden. Only 15% approve of Biden’s way of handling his job, and 66% continue to say the Democrat was illegally elected, a lie perpetuated by Trump that underscores his continued grip on GOP voters.

Republicans are also very concerned about their own party. Less than half of Republicans, 41%, say they are optimistic about the future of the GOP. Only 13% say they are very optimistic. And a third, 33%, say they are pessimistic.

Only a few seats away from majorities in the House and Senate, Republican leaders hope to be within striking distance of regaining control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. But the findings on lukewarm party optimism could be a harbinger of lagging enthusiasm among Republican voters, especially without Trump on the ballot after helping lift Congressional candidates in 2020.

This is despite the fact that history has shown that the president’s party almost always loses seats in the midterm elections and despite the general enthusiasm for the long list of potential candidates for 2024.

Some Republicans in particularly competitive states have said they are increasingly disappointed with the political process.

It’s frustrating, said Dennis Herzog, 36, an entrepreneur who lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin, of the constant feuds between the parties. While he describes himself as a staunch Republican, he says he’s disappointed with the whole system in general.

It’s nonstop, he said. I don’t care who’s in power. Just do what’s right for people and stop picking certain sides.

Republican leaders have spent much of this year trying to piss off voters, highlighting concerns about inflation and stoking culture wars over issues such as immigration, electoral conspiracy theories and critical theory of race, an academic framework that examines history through the prism of racism.

It does little to appeal to people like Nicholas Blethrow, 28, a Republican who lives in Orange County, Calif., And has described the state of his party as a disaster.

Blethrow, who did not vote for Trump in 2016 or 2020, said he was frustrated by his party’s continued efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, which he called ridiculous, as well as the opposition from some of its members to COVID-19 vaccinations and continued embrace of the former president.

Clearly, there are a lot of people who appreciate it. But I don’t think it’s good, he said.

Other Republicans disagree. The poll shows that Trump remains a dominant figure in the party. While most former presidents tend to take the limelight after leaving office, Trump has continued to assert his power, organizing rallies, making endorsements and teasing a comeback in 2024.

While 60% of the general public has an unfavorable opinion of Trump, 76% of Republicans view him favorably. And most would like to see him retain at least some degree of influence over the GOP in the future.

Nearly half of Republicans, 47%, say Trump should have a big influence on the future of the party, and 34% say he should have some influence. Only 18% say Trump shouldn’t have any at all.

I think it did a lot of good for the party, said George Hunter, 61, who lives in Washington state outside of Seattle and operates an online store. Hunter was among the minority of Republicans who said he feels optimistic about the party’s future given what he sees as Democrats’ failures on crime, foreign policy and economics and its waiting for the Republicans to sweep the contests next November.

After the next election, I think things will get better. I think the Democrats will lose their majority. That way, Biden will do less than he wants, he said.

For Herzog, who describes the current political situation as a mess, the pessimism is driven, in part, by concerns about the economy, especially inflation, and the rising cost of its supplies. He said he knew of companies that were considering shutting down because they couldn’t find workers and he didn’t understand why the government kept sending additional relief payments.

But he would also like to see his party move in a new direction.

I think there has to be a change within the Republican Party, he said. There must be a happy medium between the old students, he said, and a new generation. We have to find a happy medium.

Regarding the 2020 election, the poll shows 62% of Republicans say it is extremely or very important that election investigations continue, even though no substantiated evidence has emerged to support the fraud allegations. Trump’s massive election campaign, which was rejected by many judges. , including some he appointed, state election officials and his own attorney general.

Only 38%, by contrast, say it is extremely or very important to continue investigating the events of January 6, when a group of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol building, trying to stop it. the transition of power.

Like Democrats, few Republicans, just 10%, say democracy works extremely or very well in the country today. But Republicans are more negative than Democrats; 63% of Republicans say democracy doesn’t work well.

Only 17% say they think the nation is headed in the right direction.

As for other Republican leaders, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces mixed reviews from his party, viewed favorably by only about 4 in 10 Republicans; about as many dislike it. Minority parliamentary leader Kevin McCarthy is more popular with Republicans than not, though about half say they don’t know him well enough to form an opinion.

Representative Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Who voted for Trump’s second impeachment and has since become one of his top Republican critics, has the ill-suited distinction of being viewed favorably by more Democrats than Republicans, 47% against 21%.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Who made headlines with her inflammatory comments and conspiracy trafficking, remains largely an unknown even within her own party. While 29% of Republicans have a favorable opinion, 48% say they don’t know enough about her to say so.

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AP Director of Public Opinion Research Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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The AP-NORC survey of 1,308 adults was conducted July 15-19 using a sample drawn from NORC’s AmeriSpeak probability-based panel, which is designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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