weather icon Clear

Dennis Myers: GOP leaders are unlikely to act against Trump

In 1982, Nevada Republicans had an incumbent governor, Robert List, who was deeply unpopular, his competence and character widely doubted. No other major Republican challenged List in his re-election primary. If Democrats fielded any serious candidate, they would win. And they had a very good candidate.

In 2010, Nevada Republicans had an incumbent governor, Jim Gibbons, who was deeply unpopular as re-election loomed, his competence and character widely doubted. And the Democrats had a very good candidate.

But this time, prominent lobbyists and political consultants intervened to prevent the election of a Democrat by luring Republican Brian Sandoval out of a federal judgeship to run against Gibbons in the primary. Gibbons lost, Sandoval won, and the Republicans hung onto the governorship.

At the end of Donald Trump’s first six months in office, the Gallup survey reported that no president since presidential approval polling began had been less popular at that point in his tenure.

At the end of his first year in office, Gallup said Trump was the least popular president on record.

At the end of his second year, Gallup reported that Trump was still the least popular president ever, and it was not even a close competition. He has never broken 51 percent approval, a first for U.S. presidents, which means the GOP likely must gamble on his winning another appointment instead of an election.

In November his party lost one house of Congress and stands in danger of losing the other house and the presidency next year. Trump’s unpopularity even helped rehabilitate the images of presidents like George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, who had been the previous standards for unpopularity.

All this is very bad news for local Republican parties in states like Nevada that are unlikely to vote for Trump.

I often hear people saying things like, “Democrats need to get their act together and choose an electable candidate” or “Republicans seem to have a death wish.”

Such comments suggest there is a unified leadership that determines the direction of the major parties. But they don’t work that way anymore. GOP leaders trying to save the party from a 2020 fiasco MIGHT be able to engineer dumping Trump in favor of an electable candidate, but the rise of public opinion polls in the 20th century turned leaders into followers. Few Republican leaders in or out of elected office have the nerve to alienate the Trump base.

In the case of Richard Nixon, party leaders decided the Nixon base had to be ignored. On the day he resigned, 24 percent of citizens still supported him, according to one survey. But Republican leaders decided they had to defy that base. There are few leaders in either party today with that kind of courage.

Dennis Myers is an award-winning journalist who has reported on Nevada’s capital, government and politics for several decades. He has also served as Nevada’s chief deputy secretary of state.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Thomas Knapp on universal basic income: a totalitarian state’s dream scheme

Andrew Yang’s small but solid polling in the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination race shows that “Universal Basic Income” has gone from a fringe idea to an idea with a foothold in the popular consciousness.

Thomas Knapp: ‘Nuance’ in politics, public policy?

In 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry called his ever-shifting position on the war in Iraq “nuanced” as a way of explaining why he was for it before he was against it and why his prescriptions for its future kept changing.

Tim Burke: Census stakes high when it comes to communities, politics

This past weekend marked the Labor Day holiday and the traditional end to summer. It also means that we are inching forward on bringing 2019 to a close and the beginning of 2020. 2020 is a census year and that will have far-reaching effects on communities and in politics.

Thomas Knapp: Cybersecurity, decentralization, diversity and strength

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the New York Times reports, fears “ransomware” attacks against America’s voter registration systems in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Ray Hagar: Congressman Amodei talks Trump, Nevada and more

Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, is a Republican who says he tries to represent all of the people in his district, not just the ones in his political party.