Months of headlines suggested that a sizable portion of Republican donors, lawmakers, and activists were hungry to leave de facto GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump in the rearview mirror.
In February, for instance, Politico Magazine reported on a supposed "plot" to stop Trump that largely amounted to a lot of wishful thinking.
Axios highlighted a 'big-money effort' mounted by Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth to bury Trump.
Some basic level of delusion is also circulating among top Republicans with a more old-guard establishment bent. In the past week, former House Speaker Paul Ryan and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, for instance, have told various outlets that Trump won't win the primary.
That's just not going to happen," Sununu said two weeks ago on NBC's Meet The Press.
The polls right now tell a different story: The GOP nomination is still Trump's to lose. In fact, either the wheels are coming off the nascent presidential campaign of many Republicans' favorite Trump-lite alternative, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, or he's suffered a tire blowout.
DeSantis has lost steam in roughly a dozen polls over the past several months, including a double-digit turnaround since mid-December in Civiqs tracking.
But that's not even the biggest hit to Republican fantasies of cutting Trump loose. GOP leaders, lawmakers, and officials themselves have dealt the real deathblow to the Trump-overboard effort by immediately rushing to his side over a looming indictment.
In fact, they were like lemmings walking into Trump's trap after he posted an all-caps Truth Social missive claiming that he would be arrested on Tuesday.
Republican talking points zipped around the party about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg being a "Soros-backed" prosecutor (i.e. a product of left-wing Jewish activism) who's been soft on crime in New York. It's as anti-liberal as it is antisemitic, and everyone from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis got in on the action.
McCarthy quickly tweeted, "Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump."
DeSantis punched the name "Soros" repeatedly, at one point declaring, "These Soros district attorneys are a menace to society."
Even former Vice President Mike Pence, who was supposedly sobering up about Trump after an eight-year Kool-Aid high, told ABC's This Week he was "taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States at a—at a time when there's a crime wave in New York City."
So what happens, as many legal scholars expect, if Trump is indicted by Fulton County, Georgia, D.A. Fani Willis for trying to defraud voters, or maybe by special prosecutor Jack Smith for willfully mishandling highly sensitive documents?
Some legal observers consider those two investigations to be more substantial and serious criminal violations. Of course, only Trump could have analysts weighing which of several criminal indictments against a former president are more solid and substantive. But the point is, does it even matter from a Republican standpoint?
No. The die is cast. Nearly all Republican lawmakers and leaders will cast Willis and/or Smith as liberal prosecutors executing a politically motivated witch hunt. But most importantly, they will, en masse, be coming to the defense of Trump—the guy many are supposedly dying to move beyond.
As anti-Trumper Sarah Longwell told the Associated Press, “This is another moment — not just this indictment, but the others likely to follow — where Republicans have the opportunity to break with Trump. If they fail to do so, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves when Trump is the nominee again.”
Longwell is both publisher of The Bulwark and founder of the Republican Accountability Project.
Her point is well-taken. Few Republican officeholders outside of former Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming have ever publicly advocated for holding Trump to account for his actions. Cheney was also driven out of her leadership role in the House GOP caucus and ultimately her congressional seat for refusing to tiptoe around Trump's traitorous transgressions.
Perhaps some of the only people who didn't exactly jump to Trump's defense on being indicted were McConnell-aligned Senate Republicans.
While Trump bestie Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted an indictment would "blow up our country," Senate Republicans’ No. 2, John Thune of South Dakota, seemed less enthusiastic about escalating death and destruction of the republic in support of Trump.
Buttonholed by CNN reporter Manu Raju at the Capitol, Thune offered, "A lot of our members are asking questions about whether or not prioritizing an old case in light of everything that's going on in Manhattan is the right response, right way to go."
Thune also left House Republicans twisting in the wind on their demand that Manhattan DA Bragg testify before Congress and turn over all indictment-related documents. (Bragg declined.)
"I'm not gonna get into what the House is doing there," Thune said, seemingly stopping just short of adding "idiots."
Senate Republicans, eyeing a super-friendly takeover map next year, can't get far enough away from McCarthy and his House maniacs.
Still, even Thune stuck with the basic GOP talking points, despite the fact that he didn't exactly deliver them with gusto.
If Republican leaders and lawmakers are really talking about ditching Trump, they sure have a funny way of showing it. But then again, these are the same people who let Trump off the hook for inciting a homegrown terrorist attack on the U.S. seat of government.
Today, Kerry is joined by Drew Linzer, the director and co-founder of the well-regarded polling company, CIVIQs. Drew and Kerry talk about a recent CIVIQs poll that asked Americans from all walks of life about trans issues, among other things. Drew talks about the methodology and how the results show that conservatives tend to have more liberal views when questions are framed in terms of fundamental rights.