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CPAC, Like The GOP, Is Now A Trump Show

We plan to cover this year's CPAC, to be gaveled in on Thursday in Dallas. With so many conservative leaders sitting out the event, the question is where the conservative movement is headed.

For nearly 50 years, the Conservative Political Action Conference has held an annual political event attended by conservative activists and elected officials from the United States and other countries.

The CPAC straw poll has accurately predicted GOP presidential winners -  Reagan in 1980; Dole in 1996; George W. Bush in 2000; Mitt Romney in 2012. The organization has tended to favor solidly conservative outliers over establishment types [Pat Buchanan in 1992 over George Bush, although Bush was running for reelection; Romney over John McCain in 2008; and Ted Cruz over former President Donald Trump in 2016].

We intend to cover this year's CPAC, to be gaveled in on Thursday in Dallas, and ending with the event's highlight, a speech by Trump, on Saturday evening. The speaker roster is impressive, not just for whom it includes but for those it leaves out. Numerous supporters of the 45th president from the media, his administration, Congress, state houses, governor's mansions, and even social media organizations are included.

Sean Hannity of Fox News and Glenn Beck are expected to headline the conservative media list. Devin Nunes, who resigned from Congress to head up Truth Social; George Parmer, the CEO of Parler; and other popular Twitter personalities, like Jack Posobiec, are speaking.

Among the missing is Rush Limbaugh, who passed away last year. Had he been around, he could have been a huge draw. Also missing is Tucker Carlson, the most prominent conservative figure on TV today. Radio personality Mark Levin is not on the list. A strong Trump supporter after Trump was sworn in, Levin has been a staunch Obama-Biden opponent. Larry Kudlow, who served as one of Trump's closest advisers and now has his own Fox Business show, where he champions free-market economic thought and explains economic principles succinctly and clearly, will also be absent.

From Trump's administration, Ben Carson, Steve Bannon, and Ronny Jackson, his White House doctor who later won a Texas congressional seat, are all speaking. Kimberly Guilfoyle, more a family member as Don Trump Jr's fiancée than Trump's advisor from the campaign, is on. Again, notable absentees are the Trump children and Jared Kushner. Estranged members of his cabinet, including VP Mike Pence, Bill Barr, a strong supporter of Trump's until the election, and Mike Pompeo, Trump's secretary of state, are all missing.

Pence and Pompeo may be launching their own bids for the White House, so their absence is particularly noteworthy. The second-most popular Republican today, according to our June 2022 TIPP Poll of potential Republican primary contenders, Florida governor Ron Desantis, is not listed as a speaker. Also missing are Nikki Haley, former Ambassador to the United Nations; Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida; Josh Hawley, Senator from Missouri; Tim Scott, Senator from South Carolina; Chris Christie, former Governor of New Jersey; Elise Stefanik, a representative from New York; Tom Cotton, Senator from Arkansas; and Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota.

Ted Cruz, the junior Senator from Texas and once Trump's bete noire who refused to accept Trump as the nominee in 2016, will speak. As will Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, and Rick Scott, Senator from Florida.

That the GOP has already become Trump's party has been known since CPAC 2017. Anyone who raised their voices against Trump - the Bushes, former Arizona senator Jeff Flake, Illinois congressman Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Wyoming congresswoman Liz. Cheney - has already been sidelined into the heap of political history. Liz Cheney is facing a tough primary challenge in Wyoming that will unfold in two weeks and is fighting for her political life. She may well challenge Trump in the 2024 primary. We did not feature her in our June poll but will add her to the list to test if she still has grassroots support.

But for CPAC to be a shadow Trump organization should concern some conservatives. With many prominent voices not even participating in a conference of like-minded activists, we wonder where the conservative movement is headed next.

The Democrats have problems with their octogenarian leadership brass, runaway inflation, an extremely unpopular president and vice president, a war, and an oncoming recession. But the Democrats are likely to smile in glee that their Republican opposition, if the attendance at CPAC is an indication, is divided.

The Democrats have brilliantly staged the J6 proceedings to beat Trump down incessantly. Denying his side a voice during committee hearings is inherently unAmerican and will likely feature prominently during CPAC proceedings this week. Most conservatives agree that massive election irregularities occurred, many of them carefully planned by the Democrats.

But J6 has also sowed doubts even among some conservatives that perhaps the 2020 election was not stolen from them. Regardless, as we said in an editorial recently, many believe that remedial action has been taken at the state level. It is time to move beyond the Big Steal narrative to which Trump continues to stick. Considerations of realpolitik here are paramount. Conservatives sense lopsided victories in the 2022 midterms and, if they don't muck it up, are confident of returning to the White House in 2024.

No conservative wants a repeat of the last 18 months of the Biden administration. The Bidens, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer will unify this week's CPAC. Every political conference needs its Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter characters.

But, there's a golden rule in politics. Voters also need a positive reason to vote for the GOP. CPAC's challenge this week is to turn their conference into positive energy, a task rendered harder when so many conservative leaders are sitting out the event.


Meet us at the CPAC Conference!

The TIPP Poll team will be exhibiting at the CPAC conference in Dallas from August 4 to 7. We invite you to stop by our stand to discuss your research needs and how the TIPP Poll can help you achieve them. You can schedule appointments by emailing asweet@technometrica.com. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

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