With talk of voter fraud and a massive media conspiracy, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be bracing his supporters for defeat on November 8th. Now, a new poll shows that a majority of those backing the New York businessman will not stand by his side if Hillary Clinton becomes president.
In a Bloomberg Politics poll released on Thursday, just 38 percent of Trump supporters said that they would remain loyal to him if he does not become president. And when asked who should be the leader of the Republican party in a scenario where Hillary Clinton wins the election, a plurality of voters said it should be Mike Pence.
For comparison, on the other side of the aisle, a plurality of Democrats said that if Donald Trump wins, Hillary Clinton should be the leader of the Democratic party.
This may come as good news to anti-Trump Republicans worried about how the party will repair itself after a potential Trump loss. Data like this suggests that voters may be quick to brush Trump aside rather than looking to him as the party’s permanent leader going forward. Much of Donald Trump’s appeal has been that he’s a winner who gets things done, and so a decisive loss to Hillary Clinton could irreparably damage his brand. He has also continued to tell supporters in his rallies that losing to Clinton would be extremely embarrassing, and he has left himself very little room to spin a defeat as anything other than a soul-crushing failure.
“Can you imagine how badly I’ll feel if I spend all of that money…all of this energy…all of this time, and lost?” Trump said at a rally in August. “I will never ever forgive the people of Connecticut. I will never forgive the people of Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio…but I love them anyway.”
With all of this in mind, it makes more sense that Trump in recent days has been repeatedly alleging that if he loses, it will likely be due to voter fraud, even though there is no evidence of voter fraud taking place on any sort of widespread level that would come close to affecting a presidential election. Trump also now refuses to say that he’ll accept the election’s result as legitimate, giving himself an out where he can convince supporters that he didn’t really lose to Hillary Clinton and the election was actually stolen from him.
Many Republicans had felt that Paul Ryan would emerge as the clear leader of the Republican party if Trump does not win the election, but this same Bloomberg Politics poll suggests that those on the right are growing sour on the House speaker. Just 15 percent of Republicans polled said that Ryan should lead the party under a Clinton presidency; for comparison, 24 percent said Trump should lead, and 19 percent said Ted Cruz should lead. Plus, 50 percent of Republicans said they have a favorable view of Ryan, which is down 11 points since Ryan began to distance himself from the Trump campaign.
Similar polls have been showing the same basic result. According to MSNBC, in a recent YouGov/Economist poll, just 28 percent of Trump voters said they have a favorable view of Paul Ryan. Believe it or not, Hillary Clinton backers had a more positive opinion of Paul Ryan in this poll than Donald Trump backers.