OK, the election is over and Donald Trump won.
No, not the Election Day election that determines who sits in the White House. The one before that, for “Mr. Republican,” the titular leader of the party, its primary face to the rank-and-file and the nation at large.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was Mr. Trump’s opponent. (That’s why we’re using “Mr.,” and not” Mr. or Ms.” It was an all-male final.) Remember, Representative Ryan declined to endorse Trump earlier this month, saying he wanted to make sure the GOP had “a standard-bearer that bears our standards.”
But ordinary Republicans aren’t waiting for Ryan to pass judgment. They’re already coalescing around Trump. The latest poll to show that is a newly released New York Times/CBS News survey in which 80 percent of GOP voters say their leaders should support Trump, even if they have significant differences on issues.
Eighty percent! That’s a blow to Ryan’s view of what Republicans should stand for. After all, if any Republican leader has significant differences with Trump on issues, it’s Mitt Romney’s former running mate.
Ryan is in favor of trimming and restructuring Social Security; Trump says it shouldn’t be touched. Ryan’s a free trader; Trump says other countries are “ripping us off.”
Trump wants to temporarily ban non-citizen Muslims from entering the US. Ryan has said that proposal is “not what this party stands for and not what this country stands for.”
On this last point, many GOP voters side with Trump. Exit polls showed that 69 percent of Republicans who voted in the Pennsylvania primary supported the Muslim ban. The corresponding figure for New York was 68 percent; and in Florida, 64 percent.
What’s all this mean? We’d guess that in the end it indicates Ryan will find a way to endorse Trump without Trump actually changing any of his own policies. Their meeting last week in Washington seemed to indicate things were already trending in that direction. The House speaker will remain co-chair of the Republican National Convention. He won’t stalk off the podium in a huff.
And more broadly it means the party will probably follow its voters’ wishes and unite behind Trump, #NeverTrump notwithstanding. The party is the voters, after all.