Former President Donald Trump remains the most influential figure in the Republican Party. But a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that over the last four months, Trump’s iron grip on the GOP base appears to have slipped.
The survey of 1,573 U.S. adults, conducted from May 19 to 22, found that just half of self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (50%) now say that Trump’s endorsement is the “most important” one to them “in deciding how to vote in upcoming elections.” The other half put more stock in “other Republican leaders” (28%) or say they’re not sure (22%).
That represents a modest but significant shift from January, when 56% of Republicans and Republican leaners said Trump’s endorsement was most important to them and 23% cited other GOP leaders.
The new Yahoo News/YouGov poll jibes with the results of Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary in Georgia, where the incumbent, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp — who certified President Biden’s victory in the state, much to Trump’s chagrin — routed former Sen. David Perdue, Trump’s handpicked challenger.
Perdue, who received $2.5 million in campaign cash from the ex-president, is now the third Trump candidate to lose a gubernatorial primary this year; other Trump endorsees suffered similar defeats in Nebraska and Idaho.
The poll hints at one reason why. When Republicans and those who lean Republican were asked in January to select which of nine issues they wanted “candidates to focus on the most” in 2022, a nearly identical share said “bringing down inflation” (19%) and “stopping Democrats from rigging and stealing elections” (17%). Only “securing the border” (23%) ranked higher.
Since then, however, inflation (now at 33%) has shot to the top of the list — and “stolen election” fears have slid to a distant third (12%).
Likewise, Trump voters now say they are far more worried about “the condition of our economy” (55%) than “the condition of our democracy” (41%). In January, they were more worried about democracy (47%) than the economy (46%).
“I have told [Trump] that, ‘Look, you made your point, [but] there are a whole host of other issues that need to be talked about, and … I think you should be talking about them,” Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s former pollster, recently explained on David Axelrod’s CNN podcast. But “[Trump] believes that the election issue is still a viable issue to help move the ball down the field for him. That’s one of those times where he just doesn’t listen and does what he wants.”
To be sure, the vast majority of Republicans and those who lean Republican (63%) still believe — incorrectly — that “the election was rigged and stolen from Trump.” But even that number has fallen slightly: It was 67% in January.
Meanwhile, the number of Republicans who said they would “vote for a candidate who says Joe Biden won fair and square” has risen 6 points, to 23%.
At this point, Trump’s obsession with election issues may be doing more to energize Democrats than Republicans. A wide majority of Democrats, for instance, say they’re more worried about the condition of our democracy (57%) than our economy (34%). And when Democrats and those who lean Democratic are asked to select which of nine issues they want candidates to focus on the most, a larger share of them say “stopping Republicans from subverting democracy” (29%) than anything else.
The next highest Democratic priorities — including bringing down inflation (12%), “providing health insurance to more Americans” (10%) and “combating climate change” (9%) — aren’t close. Notably, "preserving abortion rights nationwide” (7%) ranks even lower.
As the midterms approach, Republicans from Trump on down would probably be wise to focus on inflation. When asked to pick “the most important issue to you when thinking about this year’s election,” 31% of Americans — including 34% of independents and 46% of Republicans — chose inflation. That’s roughly three times more than any other issue.
To top it off, inflation was also the only issue polled that a sizable number of Americans say Republicans (39%) would do “a better job handling” than Democrats (29%).
For now, Democrats (42%) continue to hold a small advantage over Republicans (38%) on the so-called generic ballot question, which asks registered voters, “If an election for U.S. Congress were being held today, who would you vote for in the district where you live?”
That margin has remained essentially unchanged over the past six Yahoo News/YouGov surveys. The same goes for Biden’s job-approval rating (which currently stands at 42% approve to 53% disapprove) and for his head-to-head support (42%) against Trump (39%) in a hypothetical 2024 rematch.
Most Americans, however, say that neither Biden (57%) nor Trump (52%) should run for president again.
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,573 U.S. adults interviewed online from May 19 to 22, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or nonvote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.8%.