February 5, 2023

It has not worked out that way. The announcement was dampened by the party’s weak performance in the election, triggered in part by candidates whom Trump had loudly promoted. The launch event itself earned mostly shrugs, and Trump’s ongoing legal issues continue to trigger some Republican skepticism.

In recent days, polls have shown that Trump’s position with his party is as low as it has been at any point since he won the 2016 election. Against a theoretical field of opponents, he holds a lead, but in one-on-one contests, he often trails.

So the question is, in part, how many opponents Trump will face and how much more his ratings with his party might fall. And to inform our understanding of those — unanswerable! — questions, it’s useful to consider the path Trump has taken to this point, both with Republicans and overall.

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