Florida Insider Poll: ‘We’ve gone from being the party of Jeb, winning everywhere, to the party of Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel’

The Florida Insiders weigh in on Donald Trump's influence on the Florida GOP
Published July 24, 2018|Updated July 24, 2018

Among the questions in this month's Florida Insider Poll, we asked how President Trump has influenced the Republican Party in Florida. Here's what people said (we allow anonymous comments in this case to encourage frank answers from people closely involved in the political process):
Democrat: He has made it all about Trump and absolute loyalty to Trump.

Democrat: Trump has definitely hurt the brand among persuadable voters. That said, his base loves what he's doing and Democrats have done a terrible job of organizing opposition to even his worst policies

Democrat: Done very serious damage.

Democrat: He has fractured the Party. But I think he's so outrageous and incompetent that he has tainted everyone who is a Republican. He has demoralized the GOP. The Republicans are so damaged by Trump all are labeled racist, or sycophants to the idiot president and his followers.I never thought I'd feel sorry for my Republican friends but I do.

Democrat: The changes are reflected in the Hillsborough GOP's social media posts. That's where the Republican Party is today.

Democrat: He's helped the party further engage folks who aren't that policy minded while turning off a lot of the old guard who are more so. I think many of them are just waiting for the storm to blow over. Despite a lot of the negative media he's received and his inability to move congress on some key campaign promises, he has given the party a lot of wins to talk about when engaging voters – tax cuts, judicial nominations, and a myriad of regulatory roll backs to name a few.;

Democrat: Hard as it is to accomplish but it has become even more intolerant.

Democrat: He's move the Republican party so far to the right they're about to fall off the ledge.

Democrat: All of the Florida Republicans are solidly behind Trump. What a disgrace.; Democrat: He has made Florida Republicans run farther and farther to the right, to a point past no return, in a state that continues to be centrist, and revolts back in the opposite direction when one party is in control too long.; Democrat: Driven it to the right.; Democrat: He has incited/added to a lack of cohesion and prevented any thoughtful direction.

Democrat: He has influenced it and made things far worse.

Democrat: Made it more conservative.;

Democrat: Provided loyal lemmings.

Democrat: Influence doesn't come close to describing the state of the GOP. It's incredible how one man, in such a short period of time has done such an incredible job obfuscating the lines of truth. When the house of cards he's built starts to fall, the GOP will be left in ashes.

Democrat: He has pushed the party to the far right and damaged the Party's reputation by his bizarre behavior.

Democrat: Trump has divided the republican party similar to what Bernie Sanders did in the 2016 elections-except Bernie lost the election for Democrats, not sure that Dirty Donald supporters are willing to sit it out and jeopardize the majority. They have all bought into fake news and are ok with Russians influencing our elections.

Democrat: Yes. He has co-opted that party,;

Democrat: Ron Disantis would be polling at less than 10% right now, if it weren't for the President.

Democrat: He has turned the Republican Party on it's head…upside down in fact!;

Democrat: After looking at what the Trump involvement has meant to the Desantis vs. Putnam race, coupled with the role of PAC's in recent years… the State party has little influence anymore and is itself held hostage by the strongman ( in Donald Trump) as candidates (a) are willing to askew some of its party's core values to appease the Trump voters out of fear, (b)candidates have little reason to rely on the Party for money or infrastructure much anymore, and (c) some have learned that following the Trump playbook or simply out Trumping their opponent, has garnered campaign cash. So, a Tweet from Donald Trump has far more influence on matters of how the GOP engages than does the party infrastructure. *All of this is destroying a principled and patriotic political party btw; Democrat: It's his party. He is seriously threatening his party's hold on the Governor's Mansion.

Democrat: He has coarsened the debate.

Democrat: Trump is splitting the party further. The Tea Party, Evangelicals, Social Conservative already caused a division from traditional Republicans—those economicly conservative and Socially moderate. Trump plays into people's fears; which potentially wears someone down and has them supporting a person that's out of character.!

Democrat: With the ability to 'pay his own way', Trump has no need to pander to GOP elites in Florida. Through his endorsements of Florida candidates who are not necessarily GOP favorites he continues to bleed influence from the GOP. There is no Florida GOP. Just Trump's team

Democrat: Very little.

Democrat: There is very little functioning Republican party left whenever Trump chooses to pick a side. It's all about the Donald.

Democrat: Trump's outrageous behavior has taken the Republican party to a place where – but for a slice of their base – they have lost Independents, some moderate Republicans, millenials, women across the board all while firing up the Democratic base as never before.

Democrat: Confused it;

Democrat: Schizophrenia has become the norm;

Democrat: Has he?

Democrat: He is doing to the Florida Republican Party what Governor Pete Wilson and Proposition 187 did to the California Republican Party, but even worse. When Republican candidates are done following him off the cliff, they will have lost a 20 year stranglehold in Tallahassee and alienated large segments of the electorate for decades to come.

Democrat: The Republican Party of Florida shaped Trump more than he shaped the party. His candidacy was born in Sarasota in 2012. Then, when it all became real, the state party's leaders lacked the leadership to denounce him, even after he insulted their wives and children. You break it, you buy it.

Democrat: Negatively. He has given the party much more than they bargained for and taken them in a direction in which the establishment does not want to go.

Democrat: Hurt

Democrat: For the worst. He has made a litmus test for state level Republicans to defend at the risk of infuriating their base and becoming the target of their online harassment for the next news cycle. It's an impossible standard to meet especially with two year election cycles and flip districts. It's all or nothing in their adherence and apologetics to his daily bullshit.;

Democrat: Energized the whack-a-doodles; push moderates to NPA; Democrat: It no longer is the Republican party because of Donald Trump. It is a cult -ike organization based on blindly following the rantings of one megalomaniac.

Democrat: Trump has driven the Republicans nationally and in Florida into a more openly racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and hateful party – driven not by policy or a governing philosophy but rather by reactionary anger and personal loyalty to him.

Democrat: There is no Republican Party – it's the Trump Party now. Their base loves Trump, but there's so far no indication Trump can enthuse a broad swath of the Florida electorate — and Trump doesn't care about growing or funding his party. The RPOF is even less relevant today than the FDP. When Republicans lose the governorship in November, this will be a big factor.

Democrat: He has helped lift up the idea of challenging the status quo/political establishment on the right. DeSantias and his policies as a example

Democrat: He has made it smaller

Democrat: Not yet, but if DeSantis wins the nomination the answer is yes.

Democrat: The fact that the GOP refuses to call him out on his blatant lies, and some FL members of Congress and the legislature still actively defend him has got to hurt their campaigns in some way with moderates and independent voters.; Democrat: Trump has changed the GOP by allowing the conversations to go to the extreme. We're seeing the moderate, conservative approach go out the window and the outlandish to come into play.

Democrat: His popularity with the base and his accidental win in 2016 have forced nearly all other high-profile Republicans to accommodate themselves to his xenophobic, plutocratic, anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, racist world view.

Democrat: Does Donald Trump even know there's a state Republican Party?

Democrat: he now owns the voting political base in Florida and while most of the establishment GOP quietly are embarrassed by his tweets etc. they know his policy is strong and they better keep in step.; Democrat: Trump has weakened their ability to appeal to independents and moderate republicans. The extent of the impact will be determined in November. Then we will know.

Democrat: Pushed them more to the right;

Democrat: He has cause more republicans to come out.

Democrat: Depleted any modicum of civility or respect for democracy;

Democrat: As he has across the country, he has forced a choice between traditional conservatism and his brand of politics.

Democrat: He has made fringe ideas and fringe candidates more acceptable, which has moved the right-wing Florida GOP even further to the right.

Democrat: Moved it to the right

Democrat: Has shown that loyalty to Party is more important than adherence to Republican principles.

Democrat: It's created cowards of all of them.

Democrat: He has derailed it; Democrat: He has transformed it from the party that respects the Constitution and the Rule of Law to one that is openly contemptuous of both

Democrat: Trump is the GOP. Without Trumpism, Putnam is the Gov nominee, and Moody the AG. But his brand of crazy & racial division has infiltrated the primary electorate. It's still hard for me to believe what has happened to the party of Jeb Bush.

Democrat: He has cowed every major Republican of note to get in line and not challenge even the most outrageous things he does, even Republicans who are embarrassed by him. He's also given voice and power to the lowest common denominator in the party.; Democrat: President Trump has damaged and continues to damage the Republican Party in the country and Florida.; Democrat: Took Further to the right

Democrat: Changed hopefully temporary.

Democrat: Absolutely!

Democrat: Donald has made people choose what type of conservative they are going to be. Either you are with him and turn your back to dog whistle politics. Or you are against him and your focus is on bashing him instead of fighting liberals.

Democrat: From the Republicans I speak with who put America and its citizens above all else…destroyed it beyond repair.

Democrat: Wirth the nomination of Kavanaugh puts him in Reagan territory for his base.

Democrat: More fractured, where disruption is more important than policy helpful to Floridians; Democrat: Trump has forced every Republican to hold their nose and fall in line.

Democrat: Trump has taken away any semblance of morals and decency from Florida's Republican Party, and made them puppets on his strings.

Democrat: Not enough room or time

NPA/Other: The GOP in Florida is no longer a party where the Florida Chamber of Commerce set the agenda, the terms of engagement, and every issue was seen through a jobs frame. It's become a party the cigar-chomping corporate elites sit back and let the conservatism of macho no-compromise populist radio talk show activists control the narrative and win the elections. The sad part is that the rich corporations will continue to feast in Tallahassee while the working-class Republican voters truly want a new attitude continue to get crumbs.

NPA/Other: He has converted it from a party founded on the conservative principles of smaller government and self responsibility and made it into the Cult of Trump that is based on blind allegiance to a charlatan who traffics in larger budget deficits, environmental destruction, the capitulation of global leadership, and thinly disguised racism.

NPA/Other: He's entertaining.;

NPA/Other: Has usurped the influence of those previously loyal to Jeb Bush & Marco Rubio.

NPA/Other: He has limited Sen. Rubio's clout and intra-party strength in Florida.; NPA/Other: negatively

NPA/Other: He has further divided it, made it more angry and tribal and caused moderates to leave; NPA/Other: Yes. He owns it.

NPA/Other: It is a more populist party and a whiter party. Neither of these two trends bode well for future Republican power in the state over time.

NPA/Other: Well, it no longer has core values and is in a fierce race to the bottom of civility and dignity. But otherwise…;

NPA/Other: Donald Trump has polarized the Republican party.

NPA/Other: He has propped up some embarrassing followers like DeSantis and Gaetz;

NPA/Other: scared away the women

NPA/Other: Yes, he has helped to destroy the party along with his Florida buddy Rick Scott. The Republican Party used to be a major force in Florida politics, now it is merely a vehicle for candidates to use when running for office.

NPA/Other: The question is how has the Republican Party's silence on Donald Trump changed the party? Absolutely for the worse, unless you are his 30% base

NPA/Other: He's upended it and destroyed it. Moderate, sane republicans are running scared and hiding, in fear of being targeted by him or his supporters.

NPA/Other: For the short term, Pres. Trump showed that the GOP can win by stronger appeal to white voters. But consider longer term: recall that President Reagan's reelection in 1984 captured 56 percent of the white vote; however, President Trump actually lost the popular vote with 63 percent of those same voters.

Republican: He has polarized us and made it more difficult for republicans to win in general elections.

Republican: Continued the challenge to the self-appointed and self-proclaimed elites and party pooh-bahs that Rick Scott started. The disruption to the status quo has been good for, if not growth, then avoiding the stagnation that has plagued the loyal opposition for going on 2 decades.

Republican: He united Florida's Republican conservative base around him. His endorsement of Ron DeSantis changed the election. Putnam may be the better candidate by far but President Trump will most likely carry DeSantis to victory on August 28.

Republican: He has propped up Ron DeSantis who is a trump one hit wonder

Republican: Very split

Republican: It's made some of the northeast US Republican establishment more embolden.

Republican: At the top, not much. Rick Scott might be generally supportive of Trump but he remains his own political brand and has run his campaign largely independent of whatever is happening in the White House. In the gov primary, where the candidates' brands are weaker, it's apparent that each candidate, but DeSantis in particular, are trying to co-opt the Trump coalition to carry themselves into the general.

Republican: Too early to say. Let's see how November plays out.

Republican: He has pushed the party right and into the position of nominating candidates who appear to be unelectable in the General Elections

Republican: Energized the base…. alienated the moderates.

Republican: If Ron DeSantis wins, his influence will have been significant. If Putnam wins, Trump will not have had too much of an impact other than creating awkward conversations for Republicans.; Republican: Made the GOP less about traditional conservative principles and more about the Trump persona. However, other than on trade, Trump's policies and appointments have been solidly conservative.

Republican: For the absolute worst. As a Republican, I can say we used to be a Party of true principles. Lower taxes, less government, more personal responsibility. It was a unifying and motivating force. Trump has, nationally and sadly increasingly on the state level, made the GOP a cult of personality. There is no guiding philosophy beyond are you for or against Trump, and that is overwhelmingly sad and disgusting.

Republican: People don't care about facts anymore;

Republican: No longer a RPOF, which is unfortunate and disappointing. It's now The Republican Party of Trump.

Republican: He has created a mindless mass of lemmings who are willing to support anyone he deems worthy of leading the cult.

Republican: It's a Trump party. His endorsement is the only one that matters.

Republican: It's the party of trump;

Republican: Yes;

Republican: Donald Trump did not change anything; he is a reflection of a shift that naturally occurred as those in leadership posts failed to deliver on election promises.

Republican: Changes are limited;

Republican: Of course, just like all President's change the party.

Republican: Influenced greatly. Divided it greatly too.;

Republican: not much;

Republican: It's moved the party further right which is unsustainable;

Republican: Positive: proving hope for future with Supremes appointments policy changes. Negative: Republicans further splintering off into different factions like- Never Trumpers, MAGA folks, American Constititional, Liberty Caucus etc.;

Republican: He's pulled out a new batch of voters;

Republican: It hasn't;

Republican: Made us think of what the Party stands for- doesn't allow PC to intimidate him – says what many feelTrump;

Republican: Unlike elected republican officials, voters have become more emboldened, because most agree with his policies not necessarily his delivery, although many won't publicly admit it. There are more closet Trump supporters than people think. And they will surface at the ballot box.;

Republican: Negatively;

Republican: He dominates every race on both sides. Those with connections are set and those who crossed him and toast;

Republican: Its his party now…you can cry if you want to.; Republican: significantly….to the detriment of Florida; Republican: The fascination and allure of Trump is nothing particularly mysterious or profound — be it in Florida or any other state. He keenly identified and found a home among those who feel like the GOP had forgotten both them, and their plight. At the same time, social media have given him the unique ability to communicate unfiltered, all while the traditional media continue their march to the left.;

Republican: Energized; Republican: He's made Ron DeSantis Governor;

Republican: Total domination/he moves the needle like no other in modern history..;

Republican: Pushed mainstream establishment republicans into secondary roles and elevated populist republicans and independents into leadership roles;

Republican: The Trump Kool-Aid is losing its flavor, and this recent trip hasn't endeared himself to any of his GOP stalwarts. Will it stick to Scott and DeSantis? Might still be too early to tell — but if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.;

Republican: By removing the desire of normal business-oriented Republicans of the Reagan-41-43 eras to ever attend and participate in traditional Republican functions.;

Republican: The Republican Party is now a populist, protectionist party more motivated by emotionalism, anger and fake news than logic, reason and common sense.;

Republican: More cohesive;

Republican: I would say he is causing the party to have less flexibility from what he determines are his priorities.

Republican: Trump had unified and energized the GOP base and that will help the Republican GOTV effort in November.;

Republican: It has split the party;

Republican: Brought a new type of republican to the party.;

Republican: In a broad sense, not much, other than emboldening some of them to be more outspoken in their beliefs.;

Republican: The President has brought some fantastic changes – Economy, military strength, deregulation, tax reform, immigration. Conversely he has been an embarrassment to everyone outside his Core. I think NO IMPACT to RPOF.;

Republican: The party grew a pair;

Republican: He is forcing it to change or become obsolete;

Republican: He will have great sway in the primaries but it is too early to tell if that can matriculate to wins in the general elections.;

Republican: Donald Trump has inspired people who are typically apolitical. They are paying attention. President Trump is speaking their language on the issues, particularly on respect for the rule of law, illegal immigration, upholding the Constitution, reducing taxes, honoring veterrans, making great appointments to U.S. Courts with originalists and preserving American exceptionalism. These issues are transpartisan and helped Trump win in 2016 nation wide and Florida.; Republican: the only glue keeping it together , Very weak leadership;

Republican: He has ruined it.;

Republican: We will see if it is permanent, but temporarily loosens the grip of the Jeb Bush team's control of the Party.;

Republican: Out with right of center policies and in with nationalists.;

Republican: The party has multiple identities. The state face with Rick Scott and then being supportive of the policies that President Trump has passed (tax reform, etc) while having to play defense on some of the President's stances thru social media;

Republican: Decimated its traditional leadership. Jeb Bush is MIA and Marco Rubio is a chihuahua- not because he's Hispanic but because he jumps and barks a lot but has no stature. Every primary in Florida, for dog catcher on up to governor or US Senator, it's all about embracing Trump or confronting Trump.;

Republican: Nothing Good;

Republican: Opened the door for new ways (twitter/Fox News) to communicate with his base, despite a non-functioning RPOF.;

Republican: It is unrecognizable from the GOP of 4 years ago. There is a coarseness and meanness that has taken over with the grassroots/base. There is a willingness to disregard policy, truth, science, experience, and nuance when it comes to policy. Current "leaders" act anything but preferring to embrace the form of a spineless coward. The current party is driving away young voters at a record pace and long term it is on a unsustainable path. BUT we always have the Democrats propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. (However, relying on the other side to screw up is poor strategy); Republican: There is no doubt all of us are seeing major changes in the way we conduct campaigns in the age of Trump. His influence changes from primary to general from Republican to Independent to Democrat and candidates have to be nimble and double down on grassroots in order to survive any situation. Just take the Putnam-DeSantis race. Adam is up, insert Trump, Adam is down.;

Republican: For the worse. Much more crass and angry. Only concern is staying in power.;

Republican: He has made the party openly xenophobic and way out of the national mainstream.;

Republican: Getting people to speak out and making them feel they can change government;

Republican: Created a schism with extreme defenders and detractors;

Republican: Made it less controlled, less relevant, but since each elected official has their own slush fund now, aka PaC, the party doesn't matter anymore anyway.;

Republican: He has helped them.;

Republican: It is his party now.;

Republican: It's his party;

Republican: How much time you got? Made everyone at least a little more paranoid and agitated, for starters.;

Republican: He is making them more and more insignificant;

Republican: Still in the process of changing.;

Republican: Yes;

Republican: It is not just in Florida, it is nationwide of course. His reign of terror over the GOP will be short lived hopefully as a one term President, if it is longer, the GOP as a party may never recover. Never has our party and nation been in more desperate need of bold leaders who stand for the good of the people, right now we have the opposite of that in Trump, a truly sad chapter in the history of our country.;

Republican: Yes, but only in the short run. Elasticity remains a strong suit for political class Republicans in the face of altering political winds.;

Republican: He's made it more difficult on all the leaches that have never been accountable to the public that elected them and their so-called lobbying clients they sign up after their terms in office. Results matter more than ever now.;

Republican: Made it more populist. Fiscal conservatism is dead.;

Republican: Most decidedly. Republicans are divided against each other. For Trump vs Not for Trump.;

Republican: Pluses & Minuses: GOP is more likely to be combative against leftwing bullies. We seem less concerned/more forgiving about personal issues and language, and more concerned with policy results. We're no longer concerned about gay marriage and a little less concerned about abortion, but much more concerned about fair trade and American workers. The America First agenda means a revival for the forgotten man, the small towns and small businesses (v Big Business) and a Reagan-esque sense of American pride. The outrageous accusations & the unfair treatment of Trump & his supporters by the Media and the DC establishment (openly labeling anyone a Red MAGA Cap a Klansman or a NAZI) – while it has taken its toll on Trump's favorability – has also served to embolden Trump supporters and Trump skeptics alike against the AntiFa terrorists, Beltway Insiders and the agenda of the suicidal, OPen-Borders, Global Socialist cabal.; Republican: Made it more in his image; slightly more libertarian;

Republican: Completely disrupted the central identity/ideology of the party.;

Republican: We've gone from being the party of Jeb Bush Republicans who can win everywhere and over perform in Democratic areas to the party of red hat Cletus the Slack-jawed Yokel and QAnon. Who thinks this is going to end well?;

Republican: I believe he's given a temporary boost to the fringe/anti-establishment wing. They are still energized and emboldened. This is enough to swing GOP primaries to candidates that are harder to elect in the general election. This, along with an energized Democratic Party, may result in a very disappointing November for Republicans.;

Republican: Energize the base;

Republican: He has become THE Republican Party in Florida. Many of those who maintain power within Tallahassee, such as elected officials and longtime consultants, may think it's their party, but the grassroots belong to Donald J. Trump. The purge started with Jeb & Marco, and has continued race by race in every corner of the state.;

Republican: It has been divisional within the Republican party and to society as a whole.