(CNN)Poll of the week: A new Gallup poll finds that 87% of self-identified Republican voters approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance.
An average of live interview polls that meet CNN standards taken since the election pegs Trump’s approval rating among Republicans at 89%. What’s the point: Trump’s 2020 loss should in theory lead to a power vacuum in the Republican ranks. The last person to win a major party nomination after losing a presidential election was Richard Nixon in 1968. The last president to do it was Grover Cleveland in 1892. A look at the data reveals, however, that Trump is in a uniquely strong position to maintain his control over the party. Until proven otherwise, Trump should be considered the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. This past election, Trump won the largest share of self-identified Republican voters in the exit poll era (94%). Read MoreThe polling since the election shows little to no abatement of that strength among Republicans. Among his own party, Trump’s average 89% approval rating in live interview polls and 87 and 90% in Gallup’s two post-election polls are the strongest for any president who has lost a bid for a second term in the polling era. Gerald Ford came in with a 80% approval rating among Republicans in December 1976 Gallup polling. Jimmy Carter was at a mere 50% among Democrats in November and December 1980 Gallup numbers. George H.W. Bush averaged an 84% approval rating among Republicans in an average of November 1992 through January 1993 Gallup polls. In other words, no losing president in the polling era left the White House with more goodwill from his party’s potential primary electorate than Trump will. Additionally, the little 2024 primary polling that has been published since the election shows Trump as the frontrunner. He’s averaging about half the primary vote with no else cracking 20%. To be sure, that may not deter other candidates from going for the nomination. It in no way guarantees he’ll be the 2024 Republican nominee for president. We are still in 2020, for goodness sake. Still, no other candidate who eventually ran and was polling as well as Trump at this point has lost his or her party’s primary. In fact, the other two candidates to be polling at the levels Trump is polling and took the plunge were Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Both Gore and Clinton’s numbers were so strong that they scared off most candidates from running in the primary. The other presidents who lost (Ford, Carter and Bush) didn’t come close to matching Trump’s early numbers. Ford was at 20% and trailing Ronald Reagan in 1977 Gallup polling. Carter was at 13% and behind both Ted Kennedy and Walter Mondale in early 1982 Gallup polling. Bush was such an afterthought for the 1996 Republican nomination that no early poll seems to have listed him as a potential nominee. An open-ended question (one in which respondents volunteer a response) from a 1993 CBS News/New York Times survey found just 4% of Republicans said he was their choice in 1996. That ranked fourth behind Bob Dole (who won the nomination), Jack Kemp and Ross Perot. Indeed, losing a campaign usually does damage to a president’s future prospects. Most Republicans, though, say that President-elect Joe Biden only won because of voter fraud. In other words, the allure of Trump as a winner still holds true to them.And until another Republican is able to puncture that mystique or Trump announces he’s not running, it will be tough to beat him. Before we bid adieu: The theme song of the week is Step By Step.