Why the G.O.P. Can’t Quit Trump

Why the G.O.P. Can’t Quit Trump

The violence at the Capitol, Mr. Trump’s continued devotion to an untruthful narrative, and the flood of anti-voting legislation being passed by Republican-led state governments in response to his failed 2020 campaign have all fed outrage among many high-dollar donors and corporations with long histories of supporting Republicans.

Robert Cahaly, a Republican pollster and strategist, said that this trend was only the latest example of how Mr. Trump has shifted the power in Republican politics away from major corporations and establishment figures, and toward the grass roots — a demographic he firmly controls.

“In a world where the traditional Republican corporate donors are drying up, there are millions of people who will donate $5, $10, $20 and easily make up that difference,” Mr. Cahaly said. “If you’re going to move toward a crowd-funded party, you can’t alienate the people who make up the crowd.”

As his speech on Saturday made clear, Mr. Trump remains devoted to one cause above all else: himself. And for now, so do Republican voters.

Even as two-thirds of Americans said in a CNN poll last month that they disapproved of how Mr. Trump had responded to the Jan. 6 attack, 63 percent of Republicans said he had responded to it well. And 71 percent of Republicans said Mr. Trump had had a positive effect on the G.O.P., not a negative one.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump didn’t give his speech at the Palm Beach Four Seasons, where the weekend’s official gathering of Republican National Committee donors took place. In a characteristic act of symbolic big-footing, he delivered his address at nearby Mar-a-Lago, his private club, forcing donors to caravan over to hear him.

Mr. Trump went entirely off script, but he was totally on brand. He dished out falsehoods about the election in November, and bashed some Republicans who had denounced the Jan. 6 riot — including Mr. McConnell and former Vice President Mike Pence — while heaping praise on his closest allies.

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