This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was chock full of excitement about the upcoming midterm elections. If one were to measure the event’s overall pulse, they would find a Republican base that is ready to wrench at least a modicum of power away from the Democrats. The fact that the GOP stands a more than favorable chance of retaking the House and possibly even the Senate only added to the feelings of optimism among attendees.
Trump On The Warpath
When former President Donald Trump addressed the crowd on Saturday, he did not mince words, warning those in attendance about the machinations of the hard left. He cautioned that the nation’s “most dangerous people are people from within” and that “these are people that must hate our country because they make us weak.”
Trump also argued that the left is seeking to “indoctrinate your children to hate their parents while calling you a hateful racist” and highlighted their attempts to “use big tech” to censor those who express conservative viewpoints online. He continued:
“They use the deep state to spy on you. They use the intelligence agencies to frame you. They use the media to slander you. They use the legal system to persecute you. It is a persecution. They use rigged elections to disenfranchise you and destroy you and ruin your lives.”
Trump appeared to be tapping into the overall feeling of those at the event. The American Conservative Union, the organization that holds CPAC every year, took a straw poll to ascertain the key priorities for the upcoming election, and the results were telling.
Perhaps the biggest news for Trump himself was that according to another straw poll, the former president beats all comers in hypothetical match-ups. Of 2,500 respondents, 59% backed Trump for a 2024 shot at the White House, an increase over last year’s poll which had him on 55%. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came in second with just 28% support. No other candidate broke into double digits.
Topping the list was election integrity. Of those who participated in the survey, 49.1% believe this is the most pressing issue today. This particular result is no surprise, given that many are still upset over the results of the 2020 presidential election. A poll conducted last year revealed 66% of Republicans believe Democrats stole the election from Trump.
Second in line is immigration, with 47.6% indicating this is an important issue for CPAC attendees. As President Joe Biden’s migrant crisis continues to be an ongoing problem, it was anticipated that those who cheered when President Trump promised to build a “big, beautiful wall” would give this topic a high ranking. Indeed, with the current president’s quest to undo the progress his predecessor made in the effort to curb illegal immigration, those GOP candidates who are elected will likely feel the pressure to take action on the matter.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown orders, mask and vaccine mandates, and other onerous measures imposed by mostly left-leaning politicians, concerns about constitutional rights would be expected. This was the third-most important issue for CPAC attendees. About 42.7% of respondents cited this area as a top priority.
Right-leaning participants also seemed to have Democratic strategist James Carville (who coined the phrase “it’s the economy, stupid”) on their minds when answering the survey. More than 26% said inflation or cost of living was of particular concern. It turns out empty shelves aren’t a winning issue for the Democrats.
Seizing the Issues
Lastly, foreign policy was also rated as a top priority. With the Ukraine/Russia conflict casting a shadow over the proceedings, 22.1% of participants were concerned that the current president’s apparent inability to handle foreign affairs would have negative consequences on the United States. The White House’s botched military withdrawal from Afghanistan and Biden’s failure to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from staging an invasion of Ukraine seem to have caused Republicans to long for the days of mean tweets and low-level feuds.
These results could provide a snapshot into the issues that will energize the base going into the 2022 and possibly even 2024 elections. GOP candidates seeking to receive nominations during primary season will likely seize on these topics to earn the favor of the base, many of whom will be looking to send “America First” leaders to Washington next year.
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.