Former President Donald Trump lost his reelection bid for the White House, and Democrats now control the majority in both chambers in Congress. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is seemingly split between Trump’s ideology and GOP orthodoxy.
A large number of people in Southwest Florida hold firm in their belief the former president is the leader of the Republican Party.
“To be the leader of a party, you don’t have to be in office,” said Doris Cortese, the vice chair of the Lee County Republican Party. “Trump still is very, very strong as far as leadership of the party.”
According to a non-scientific Survey Monkey poll by WINK News, nearly 50% of participants believe Trump leads the GOP. We asked the same question in a Facebook poll and 60% of participants agreed.
Behind Trump, “none of the above,” was the second choice compared to the remain choices, which were Republican senators Mitch McConnel and Marco Rubio.
“It makes me feel sad to see the Republican Party in such disarray,” said Nancy Razvoza, the former vice president of the Charlotte County Democratic Party. “It’s pretty hard from a democratic point of view to even understand what’s going on in the Republican Party today.”
Nationwide, people believe there is a growing divide among Republicans.
The latest CBS poll shows 70% of people would join or consider joining a separate Trump party.
Respondents point to Republicans who did not support Trump until the very end now being challenged or disowned.
“Because I don’t think that that’s a true loyalty to our president and to our party,” Cortese said.
GOP leaders in Southwest Florida don’t see a divide. They believe the party has many leaders, including Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida U.S. Congressman Byron Donalds.
“We had tremendous respect for Donald Trump, and he did amazing things for our country,” said Jonathan Martin, the chairman of the Lee County Republican party. “We should absolutely recognize that, but our party is bigger than an individual person.”
“I haven’t met any never-Trumper or a Trump person who said I won’t work in  to keep the state red,” Cortese said. “It is united.”