Despite being the Republican presidential nominee for months, Donald Trump has yet to receive the backing of many prominent Republican Party leaders. Senator Susan Collins of Maine is the latest Republican senator to defy the party and publicly declare her opposition to Trump.
Our data shows that the GOP senators that oppose Trump fall into two distinct ideological camps - they are either moderate or very conservative. The image below shows where the eight #NeverTrump GOP Senators land on the ideological spectrum, based on their Crowdpac scores. Senators Collins, Kirk, Graham, Sasse, and Heller all have a score of 5.0C or lower, while Senators Flake, Lee, and Cruz all have a score of 9.1C or higher.
Donald Trump's failure to win the support of moderate and far-right senators portends trouble for his campaign in the general election. He has successfully consolidated support with average conservative Republicans (those with scores between 5C and 9C, such as Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Jeff Sessions, and Tom Cotton), but has demonstrated an inability to unify the moderate and far-right wings of the party.
The concentration of support in the 'Trump zone' illustrates what has been the overarching narrative of the GOP nominee's campaign thus far: the racially-charged rhetoric that has allowed him to clinch the nomination against all odds is one that inevitably ostracizes segments that are absolutely critical in the general elections. Moderate GOP Senators who joined #NeverTrump are further proof of Trump's inability to bridge that gap and portray himself as a palatable alternative to moderate conservative voters, who are now more likely than ever to flock to third party alternative Gary Johnson, sit out the election altogether, or do the unthinkable and back Hillary Clinton.
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