The hashtag #ILefttheGOP was trending on Monday as self-described former Republicans shared what made them exit party ranks – whether to join the Democrats, or to vote independently. It was created by former Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus, who left the party after a disastrous encounter with the president’s 2016 campaign and has been a strident “never-Trumper” ever since.
Perhaps predictably, many cited US President Donald Trump as their reason for leaving the party.
Brandon Straka, former Democrat and creator of the #WalkAway movement, cried foul, accusing “the left” of “trying to copy #WalkAway” and implying Jacobus was running a fake campaign.
Others agreed the hashtag looked fishy,
or tried to reason with its proponents by pointing out ways in which the Democratic Party was worse.
While a few ex-GOPers seemed to have wasted no time jumping from the frying pan of one party into the fire of another, adding a cringeworthy “vote blue no matter who!” to their tweeted testimonials, not everyone who has left the clutches of the Republicans has rushed headlong into the tentacles of the Democrats.
Both parties are experiencing near-record levels of unpopularity. A Gallup poll from earlier this month showed just 27 percent of Americans identify as Republican and just 27 percent as Democrats. Some 45 percent identify as Independents – approaching the highest-ever percentage of 47 percent, most recently recorded in late 2014. Asked whether they leaned more toward the Democratic or Republican parties, independents were almost evenly split, with 46 percent leaning Democratic to the 45 that leaned Republican.
The existence of an increasingly vocal independent segment of the American voting populace doesn’t mean that an anti-Trump group wouldn’t have good reason to launch a divide-and-conquer campaign against the GOP at this time. Jacobus is a political strategist, after all. With the vote on whether or not to remove Trump from office looming large in a Republican-dominated Senate, the anti-Trump contingent needs to convince at least 20 Republican senators to break rank with the party if it actually wants to remove the president from office – more, if any Democrat votes not to remove him. Their job becomes much easier if they can convince Republicans that the president is damaging their party by driving voters away.
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