In the wake of Donald Trump’s departure from office, ex-federal official Richard Haass — who worked in the presidential administrations of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, Georgw H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush — announced on Wednesday that he left the GOP after over 40 years with the party. According to a statement that he posted on Twitter, he changed his voter registration to reflect no party affiliation, becoming an independent voter. At present, Haass is an author and the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, which is an independent and well-connected think tank.
On Twitter, Haass commented as follows:
‘I changed my registration to “no party affiliation” after 40 years. I worked for Reagan & Bush 41 & 43. But today’s Rep Party no longer embraces the policies & principles that led me to join it. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Party left me.’
I changed my registration to "no party affiliation" after 40 years. I worked for Reagan & Bush 41 & 43. But today’s Rep Party no longer embraces the policies & principles that led me to join it. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Party left me.
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) February 10, 2021
Apparently, Haass isn’t the only registered Republican who’s left the GOP in recent weeks. As summarized in a new report from The New York Times, almost 140,000 registered Republicans across 25 states left the party in January, and most of January, of course, came after the Trump-incited rioting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Although the nearly 140,000 GOP’ers who apparently left the GOP in January might be small compared to the number of Republicans across the country as a whole, recent presidential elections have proven that comparatively small margins can decide presidential elections in individual states, and these individual states can be critical for an electoral college victory.
In January, over 12,000 registered Republicans abandoned the party in Pennsylvania, and more than 10,000 Republicans made the same move in Arizona. In the 2020 presidential election, Biden won Arizona by 0.3 percent after Trump won the state in 2016 by 3.5 percent, so any exodus of registered Republicans from the party could entail even more electoral trouble for the GOP. Margins in other states were also small — in Wisconsin, Biden won by roughly 0.6 percent, while in Georgia, he won by about 0.2 percent. Neither Arizona nor Georgia had gone to a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton was on the ballot in the 1990s.
Soon, a comparatively small but highly visible contingent of Republican Senators could launch a stand against Trump. This week, six Republican Senators voted in favor of moving forward with the ongoing impeachment trial proceedings against Trump, suggesting that they are seriously open to the arguments being presented.