Who would you say (as specific as possible) consists of the GOP establishment.

And more importantly, as of now (post-election), where do they stand on Trump?

edit: Changed elite to establishment, used wrong terminology

  • I think the term “GOPe”, which was commonly used last year, refers to GOP establishment, not elite. Are you sure you mean to refer to the GOP elite?
    – Golden Cuy
    Nov 30, 2017 at 8:23
  • I guess I should have said establishment* then.
    – kenco
    Nov 30, 2017 at 8:25

1 Answer 1


This is a complex question, because there are no official membership cards for "the GOP establishment". It's a collection of individuals with their own beliefs and opinions, which they do not necessarily reveal to the public.

Who is the GOP Establishment (GOPE)?

In general terms, we can define members of the GOPE as having seniority: They hold, or have held, positions of importance for a considerable length of time. Important sub-groups include:

  • Long-serving members of the Senate or House: Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan.

  • Former presidents or presidential nominees: Bush 41, Bush 43, Mitt Romney, John McCain.

  • Former high-ranking administration officials: Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, James Baker, Henry Kissinger.

  • Experienced current or former state governors: John Kasich, Jeb Bush.

As such, the Establishment is (small-c) conservative in its beliefs. It excludes more radical sub-groups, including the Tea Party faction in the House of Representatives, Senators such as Ted Cruz, and Trump himself.

What is their attitude towards Trump?

Many individuals in the above list have expressed significant hostility to Trump, for reasons of:

  • Style: Trump is a brash and vulgar individual. Many Trump supporters see this as a virtue; but it conflicts with GOPE ideas of dignity and decorum.

  • Policy: Trump's policies might be described as populist-nationalist; his support of such ideas as a Muslim travel ban, border wall, massive spending on infrastructure, and limited engagement with other countries, is in conflict with traditional GOPE priorities.

  • Principle: Trump's breaks with established moral norms are too numerous to list here, but include attacks on the principles of a free press and independent judiciary. In addition, Trump is under investigation by a special prosecutor for some very serious issues.

However, Trump is now POTUS whether the GOPE likes it or not.

Among current office holders, there are two major types of reaction:

  1. Working with Trump, in an attempt to find areas of common ground and/or advance their own agendas.

    • Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have attempted to cooperate with Trump on Obamacare repeal and changes to the tax system.
    • Individuals such as Jeff Sessions have accepted jobs in the Trump administration.
    • Individuals such as Lindsey Graham have expressed strong opposition to Trump on some issues, but are willing to cooperate with him on others.
  2. Open opposition to Trump: Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, John McCain, John Kasich

  • I would add a third type of reaction: Neutral Diplomatic Engagement. Current Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has not publicly condemned Trump but has vocally not supported him. Hogan famously voted for his own father as a write in candidate in the general election and has made little comment on Trump's policies beyond that (This isn't new. Hogan has always limited his public discourse to Maryland issues and ran on a strictly fiscal policy issue, and not making any moves against social policies that were enacted by the previous administration).
    – hszmv
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:51
  • 2
    It is important to remember that Trump is neither a conservative nor a life long republican. His governing style is more populous. This is definite at odds with traditional politicians who are part of the establishment. Nov 30, 2017 at 16:59
  • TL;DR: for part #1, it's the same set of people who, in DNC, would have been the convention superdelegates.
    – user4012
    Nov 30, 2017 at 18:21
  • @user4012: There's some overlap. But superdelegates include obscure party officials, and exclude prominent individuals like state governors, so it's not exact. Nov 30, 2017 at 22:16
  • @RoyalCanadianBandit - I'm not certain that party officials don't also count as " Establishment" in GOP, to be honest. Debatable but arguably so
    – user4012
    Dec 1, 2017 at 0:34

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