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The biggest question I've had about Trump's presidency is why so many members of the GOP are so loyal to him when the alternative is Pence (i.e. if Trump was removed from office).

Pence is arguably more conservative, more religious, more (re)-electable in 2020, more intelligent, less scandalous, less impulsive, more eloquent, and more respectful - all things that I assume the majority GOP members of congress would prefer. Furthermore, I have to believe that (at least secretly) a good number of them are just viscerally disgusted by Trump in much the same way that liberals are, and they would have no issue with Pence from a personality perspective.

In short - what do Republicans have to lose by removing Trump from office? Wouldn't Pence be preferable (to them) in nearly every way?

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    Which Republicans are you talking about- elected officials or voters? – ThisIsNoZaku Jan 18 at 18:19
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    What makes you think Pence is more re-electable? Trump beat all the other candidates (similar to Pence) in the primaries. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jan 18 at 18:46
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    @JJJ Two main reasons: #1 - Trump beat all the other candidates precisely because there were so many other candidates. For example (I'm completely making up the numbers) Trump won the delegates for state where he got ~20% of the vote, Rubio got ~15%, Cruz got ~12%, Kasich got ~9%, etc. If it were just Trump vs. one of the others (say Rubio), Rubio would have won. Presumably Pence would be the republican 2020 nominee without much opposition. #2 - Based on polls I would say Trump's popularity has dropped, at least enough that if the 2016 election was today, he would lose. – Jer Jan 18 at 19:54
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    @Jer that's mostly speculation. After each republican candidate dropped out enough supporters went to Trump for him to maintain the lead. If someone else could have beat Trump they sure would have tried. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jan 18 at 19:56
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    @JJJ I don't remember exactly - didn't Trump have too large of a delegate lead once the other candidates had dropped out? – Jer Jan 18 at 20:05
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Because republicans voted for Trump, not Pence or any other candidate. He is the one who won the primary. To win the general election they decided to rally behind Trump because if they didn't they would destroy their own voter base.

You need to remember that elected officials are supposed to act on behalf on their voters. This means supporting whoever won the primary, even if they themselves don't. If Republicans remove Trump from office they will certainly lose the next election, since it is clear that the voters voice is ignored.

So the answer to your question is everything.

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There are many reasons, but one reason is that Trump base likes Trump precisely because he successfully and unabashedly attacks the left. Pence may be a conservative with lots of credentials, but that base had a 20+ year history of various shades of conservatives with various positive sides you listed all of whom basically folded and allowed the progressives to win.

Name one major and enduring right wing preference/initiative that resulted from Bush (GWB) winning and holding the office for 8 years? Off the top of my head, I cannot. Not to mention McCain and Romney who couldn't even manage to win the office.

So, the perception - fair or not, accurate or not - in a lot of the Republican base - is that nobody else, Pence included, is worth having at the head of the ticket, as they would continue the 20 year old streak of sounding off nice conservative principles while scoring no enduring wins and letting the progressives win the discourse.

At the Congressional level it's a combination of many factors; some may agree with the above, some worry about being primaried and losing said primary due to base agreeing with the above, and some, because generally fracturing the party isn't in anyone's best interest until Trump becomes a worse ballast than he is - in their calculation - now.

  • Regarding you last paragraph, does that mean 'classic' Republicans are willing to sacrifice what they believe in just to (have a shot at) win(ning) the election? – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jan 19 at 23:06
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    @JJJ - At the risk of Godwinning this comment thread from the get-go, "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons." - Winston Churchill about USSR. – user4012 Jan 20 at 1:49
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    Can you elaborate in plain language? I don't really see how your quote fits to the current situation. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jan 20 at 2:24
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    A problem here is that Republican base is not the same thing as Trump base. And even parts of the Trump base - for instance, midwestern farmers - tend to erode when Trump policies hit their pocketbook. – jamesqf Jan 20 at 18:46
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    "Name one major and enduring right wing preference/initiative that resulted from Bush (GWB)" Just off the top of my head: Tax breaks for the wealthy, more aggressive foreign policy (Iraq war), restrictions on abortions. – Acccumulation Jan 20 at 19:09
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Pence fits them ideologically, but isn't all that exciting. Trump is entertaining, which is why people turn out to vote for him. Basically, Pence as a president would be like Mitt Romney, and Romney never really stirred up the faithful like Trump can.

  • This is a comment rather than an answer. – Alexei Oct 24 at 15:01
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    I think this an important point (that a politician needs to inspire their supporters) but it needs to be expanded more to be a good answer. As it is, it reads like a comment. If you build on this point and state it more clearly (ideally with some sources to support it) – divibisan Oct 24 at 15:42

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