At least 30,000 GOP voters have left the party since the Capitol breach

The sudden change in party affiliations, however, does not necessarily translate to more Democratic-leaning voters

Published February 4, 2021 4:00AM (EST)

This article originally appeared on Truthout.

Since the attack on the United States Capitol building by a mob of loyalists to former President Donald Trump three weeks ago, tens of thousands of voters who were previously registered as members of the Republican Party have changed their affiliation away from the GOP.

The Hill reported on Wednesday that the departure of voters from the Republican Party is a "virtually unprecedented exodus" as party affiliations don't typically change by that large a number unless there is a primary election for a different party that voters want to take part in.

Around 30,000 voters have changed their allegiance away from the party, the publication reported. That's likely just a fraction of the true total, however, as the number represents just a few states that have reported on registration data since the events of January 6.

The change in party affiliation does not necessarily benefit the other major political party in the U.S. Voters in Pennsylvania, for example, who opted to remove themselves from being registered Republicans, were two times more likely to join a third party or become unaffiliated with any party at all than they were to register as Democrats.

Although thousands are leaving the GOP, those who are sticking with the party appear to have a "forgive and forget" attitude with regards to the attacks on the Capitol, particularly when it comes to their views on Trump. 

In surveys taken after the Capitol breach occurred, it had appeared that support for Trump within the party had waned, with only 42 percent of Republican respondents in a Politico/Morning Consult poll saying they wanted to see him run for president again in 2024. That number represented a decrease of 12 points compared to a poll that asked the same question in November, shortly after the presidential election.

But polling this week from Morning Consult indicates that Trump is on a rebound with Republican voters. In a new poll released this week, 50 percent of Republican respondents say that Trump should play a major role in the GOP. A similar poll conducted by the organization on January 6-7 showed only 41 percent of respondents saying Trump should play a major role in the party.

The Capitol breach is still on the minds of lawmakers in Congress, as the Senate is set to begin an impeachment trial against Trump for his role in instigating the attacks, while members of the House are involved in hearings over the slow response from Capitol police and other agencies on the day that it happened. Acting chief of the Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman, speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday about the Capitol breach, said that while the department was aware of a "strong potential for violence," it had failed to take action to prepare for the possibility of an attack on Congress.

Discussing those closed-door hearings with CNN, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) said that House members were "shaking their heads in disbelief" after hearing of how poorly agencies had planned for the attack.

"It was only by pure … luck that elected officials, staffers and more Capitol policemen were not killed," Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pennsylvania) also told the network.

The consequences from the violence of that day are still being felt, as a second Capitol police officer has now died by suicide. According to CBS Congressional reporter Zak Hudak, the officer in question was Jeffrey Smith, a 12-year member of the force. 

Yesterday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) called for extending mental health services to Capitol support workers. 

"It wasn't just members of Congress who were subjected to violence on January 6," Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet. "Everyone at the Capitol that day experienced first-hand one of the most traumatic events in our nation's history. Support staff must have the same counseling & other resources as Congressional staff."

Copyright © Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

By Chris Walker

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