(Headline USA) While President Donald Trump holds a tight grasp on much of the GOP base, there is a notable minority of Republican voters who do not consider themselves MAGA members.
Most of them, as faithful Republicans, backed GOP candidates in the 2022 election, AP VoteCast shows.
Only a sliver of them showed their opposition to Trump for a second time, backing Democrat Joe Biden for president in 2020 and Democratic House candidates in 2022.
Democrat Adam Frisch, a challenger to Republican Lauren Boebert, said he thought there was a “fairly unique” opening for a more conservative Democrat to connect with Colorado voters who did not like Boebert’s aggressive political style in 2022.
“I spent most of my time trying to convince people I was a safe enough choice, not just to leave the ballot blank … but actually vote for a non-Republican for the first time ever or in a really long time,” he said.
Frisch’s attempt to win Boebert’s conservative district failed in 2022.
The findings suggest Democrats may need to be wary of the messaging against “MAGA Republicans,” whom Biden hammered repeatedly before the November elections and is poised to do again in a 2024 campaign. Most of those who don’t identify with the movement don’t seem to find that compelling. Voters who do may be eager to revert to a Republican candidate who represents their traditional conservative values.
Republican strategist Alex Conant suggested GOP candidates can fuse the pro-Trump and anti-Trump Republican voters into a single voting bloc.
“There’s no reason that the Republican nominee in 2024 can’t put together a coalition that includes Trump’s base and moderate Republicans and independents,” he said.
Conant and others pointed to examples of Republican governors — Ron DeSantis in Florida, Mike DeWine in Ohio and Brian Kemp in Georgia — who were able to do that in 2022.
According to VoteCast, only 10% of Republican voters who don’t identify as “MAGA Republicans” voted for Democratic House candidates nationwide, compared with 2% of those who embrace that label.
Overall, only 4% of Republicans backed Democratic candidates.
VoteCast shows most Republicans voted for Republicans, even if they did so with reservations.
Republicans who don’t identify with the MAGA movement and decided to back Republican candidates mostly say they didn’t consider Trump, good or bad, when they voted. Only about half are positive in ratings of Trump himself, but most are favorable toward the party and say the GOP tends to try to do what’s right. About two-thirds of them say they voted to show opposition to Biden.
“They’re where I am … what choice do we have?” said GOP strategist Rick Tyler. “There are many in the Republican Party who would love to not vote Republican, but they can’t vote Democrat because they don’t believe in where Democrats want to take the country.”
That may have helped some Republican candidates in Republican-leaning districts oust Democrats who were elected in the Trump era.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press