The Corner

Politics & Policy

What Republican Candidates Are Saying about Trump

In a report for the Brookings Institution’s Primary Project, Elaine Kamarck and Alexander Podkul make two interesting findings.

First: “In spite of all the negative comments about the establishment, establishment candidates are doing better in both parties.” Among non-incumbent candidates for Congress, Republicans whom the analysts classify as “business/establishment” oriented are winning primaries at roughly twice the rate as candidates they classify as “conservatives.”

Second: The Republican candidates’ websites are less likely to tie them to Trump than you might expect. Again, the project is looking at non-incumbents, and it finds that 55 percent of the Republican candidates’ sites don’t mention the president at all. The candidates whose sites don’t mention Trump are winning their primaries at significantly higher rates than those whose sites mention him positively, but for various reasons I wouldn’t read too much into that.

I’ve taken a boringly middle-of-the-road view of Trump’s influence on the Republican party: He has a lot of it, but the common portrayal of Republicans as cult-like followers of the president is a gross exaggeration. The Kamarck/Podkul findings support that view.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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