The Current

'Trump not a Republican': Can a divided GOP still stand?

The unprecedented disdain among Republican voters for their own candidate Donald Trump could potentially cleave the party. Can a divided Republican party still stand? And did last night's final U.S. presidential debate hurt or help the Republican party?

'I'll keep you in suspense,' Trump says

7 years ago
Duration 0:42
Clinton says Trump can't stop claiming systems are rigged against him

Read story transcript

To say the 2016 election has been divisive would be an understatement.

With rhetoric reaching new lows and both Republicans and Democrats seeing divisions within their own party — the GOP seems to be cleaving in ways never seen before.   

"In 42 years of doing this, I've never seen this type of an election,"  Republican pollster and strategist Ed Goeas tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"Normally what you have is about 25 per cent that like both the candidates and that's where the swing vote is."

But Goeas says that polls show only two per cent of Americans like both U.S. presidential candidates while 20 per cent dislike both Trump and Clinton.

"This is more of a race to the bottom for both candidates and a problem for both parties," says Goeas. 
Republican pollster Ed Goeas says the last U.S. presidential debate did mot hurt the GOP. (The Associated Press)

But after Wednesday's final debate, the release of a video where Trump is heard discussing sexually assaulting women and other degrading comments by the former reality-star – fissures within the Republican Party are deeper and possibly much more destructive. 

"The presidential candidate gives an image to the party. It defines the party — and that is the danger of Donald Trump because he is not a Republican."

Goeas says that over the years, there have been two problems for the Republican party: Tea Party leadership and the conservative media that uses Republican leaders as "red meat."

"So we have basically, as Republicans, been fighting with one arm tied behind our back for the last six years…. Trump has taken that and made it worse."

Trump calls Clinton a 'nasty woman'

7 years ago
Duration 0:34
Trump says 'what a nasty woman' in response to Clinton's barb

While many describe this election as unprecedented, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner says Trump and what he represents is not necessary new; noting former US President Richard Nixon's Southern strategy appealing to white Southerners.

"I don't think we can just say Trump is an outlier, a bizarre aberration. He gives voice in his own bizarre, and you know, ego-maniacal way -- to tendencies that have been there in the Republican Party for a long time," Foner tells Tremonti.

​"The fact is that the polls show the very large majority of Republican voters are going to vote for Trump. They recognized something in Trump that appeals to them."

Foner tells Tremonti the GOP has to take a look at itself, not just at Trump, to figure out how they got into the mess they're in."

But he says the Republican party is not dead.

"We can't really write the obituary of the Republican party quite yet but what the party will look like going forward is still very much an open question."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Willow Smith and Ines Colabrese.