The Atlantic

Trump’s Parting Gift to Joe Biden

Tension within the Republican coalition over the Capitol riot could push GOP-leaning voters into the new president’s camp.
Source: Jonathan Ernst / Pool / Getty

Donald Trump’s chaotic final days in the White House could present President Joe Biden with a historic opportunity to broaden his base of public support and splinter Republican opposition to his agenda.

Recent polls have repeatedly found that about three-fourths or more of GOP voters accept Trump’s disproven charges that Biden stole the 2020 election, a number that has understandably alarmed domestic-terrorism experts. But in the same surveys, between one-fifth and one-fourth of Republican partisans have rejected that perspective. Instead, they’ve expressed unease about their party’s efforts to overturn the results—a campaign that culminated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump’s supporters.

Those anxieties about the GOP’s actions, and about Trump’s future role in the party, may create an opening for Biden to dislodge even more Republican-leaning voters, many of whom have drifted away from the party since Trump’s emergence as its leader. If Biden could lastingly attract even a significant fraction of the Republican voters dismayed over the riot, it would constitute a seismic change in the political balance of power.

“There is a universe of Republicans looking to divorce Trump,” John Anzalone, Biden’s chief pollster during the campaign, told me. “They don’t necessarily know how to do it … [but] January

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