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US election: Donald Trump splits the Republican Party
Published on 12-10-2016 - at 03:20' by Al Jazeera

Regardless of the outcome of November’s presidential election, Trump’s impact on the party will be felt for years to come.

The abject state of the Republican Party in the United States has been exposed with the latest poll in the Presidential contest.

Hillary Clinton is eight points clear of Donald Trump.

Stop for a second and think about that.

The woman who is the second most disliked candidate ever to run for the White House is on course to win the election in a landslide.

With such a gap, it is highly possible that the Democrats will take control of the Senate and there is a chance they could win the House of Representatives too.

It’s what they call a wave election. And it’s something that appeared improbable if not impossible just six months ago.

And there’s little sign that the Republicans can do anything about it.

The party is split, divided like no other modern political operation in the weeks before a vote both sides have tagged the most important in a generation.

Most disliked candidate

Trump is at the centre of the infighting; the man who beats Clinton to be the most disliked candidate ever to run for president.

On one side, the Republicans disgusted and angered by his comments caught on tape and released last week which show him talking about women in a graphic and obscene way.

For those who haven’t heard it, he discussed how he could sexually assault women and get away with it because he was a "star".

Many have called on him to step aside in the race and make his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence the top of the ticket. That simply isn’t going to happen.

Trump isn’t minded to walk away.

There are Republicans who believe Trump should be defended at all costs, and the party has acted disgracefully by not offering him their full support.

And there are those who have not withdrawn their endorsement, but have decided they will no longer defend Trump or campaign on his behalf. The most significant of those is the most senior elected Republican in the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.

Attacks to continue

The famously thin-skinned Republican candidate has attacked those who have all but deserted him. In a Twitter storm on Monday afternoon, he called Ryan a "weak and ineffectual leader" and that he would throw off the "shackles" of the Republican Party in the final month of his campaign.

It is a startling attack. Essentially the Republican candidate has declared open warfare on the party that put him in place to challenge for the leadership. Or to look at another way, he is locked in a battle with the people who would help him to govern if he were to win.

It is a risky strategy for Trump. Many of his supporters will delight in his attacks and share his view of Paul Ryan. They have a low view of elected politicians anyway. But Trump is running a bare bones campaign. His get-out-the-vote operation is essentially the Republican get-out-the-vote campaign. If they cut money and support, he is doomed.

Trump will now continue his attacks on those he sees as disloyal. He believes that will fire up his base, enthuse them and drive them to the polls. And he will continue to go after Hillary Clinton, highlighting what he sees as her duplicity, her "criminal behaviour" and her failed record over 30 years in public life, believing he can peel off disgruntled Democrats.

The thinking is that even if they never vote for him, if they stay away, it suppresses the vote and gives him a better chance of winning.

But here’s another problem for the Republican Party. Trump has warned that he will never forget those who spoke out against him; abandoned him and walked away from his campaign. And so will many grassroots Republicans. The party could find itself caught up with people settling scores for years to come.

Win or lose, Donald Trump’s impact will be felt for years to come.

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VA Trump supporter holds up a sign at a campaign rally in Florida

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