Kristen Soltis Anderson is losing faith in her party. And that should trigger alarms for Republican leaders concerned about the GOP’s long-term health.
Anderson is a smart and telegenic young Republican pollster. She has specialized in studying how the party can improve its anemic performance among the Millennial generation, which will pass the right-leaning baby boomers to become the largest generation of eligible voters in 2018.
Now she is wondering whether Donald Trump’s GOP has a place for people like her, who want a party that marries support for less government and robust national defense with a commitment to racial and social inclusion.
“There are still enough good people inside … that I agree with that I am still staying,” Anderson told me recently. “But I am significantly less convinced that I am going to succeed in this effort. [That’s] because at the same moment somebody like me is becoming very disheartened, there are voters who are thinking, ‘This is the Republican Party I have been waiting for.’ If I pack up my toys and go home, there are people in red MAGA hats who would be saying, ‘Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.’”
Anderson’s fear is that in a rapidly diversifying America, Trump is stamping the GOP as a party of white racial backlash—and that too much of the party’s base is comfortable with that. Trump’s morally stunted response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month unsettled her. But she was even more unnerved by polls showing that most Republican voters defended his remarks.