Win, lose or Trump: The Republican rift over the rise of Donald

Where will the party faithful fit after November 8th?

Win, lose or Trump: The Republican rift over the rise of Donald

File photo

America's 'Grand Old Party' faces an uncertain future, even if Donald Trump wins the presidential election.

Republicans are wrestling with what Mr Trump's campaign means for the 160-year-old institution they like to call 'the party of Lincoln'.

In an extraordinary election year, senior Republicans have openly refused to back their party's nominee. Mr Trump has been scathing in his criticism of the party establishment.

If Mr Trump wins, where will those establishment figures fit after November 8th? If he loses, where does the party start to rebuild?

"A lot of us are in agony because of the man who hijacked the Republican Party, Donald Trump, and trying to figure out what it means for the future of the party," said Phil Boas, editorial director of the Arizona Republic.

The newspaper, originally called the Arizona Republican, broke with 126 years of tradition in endorsing a Democrat for president this year.

The city of Mesa in Arizona was named the most conservative in the country. Republican voters there are aghast at what's going on.

Peter Budd says Mr Trump thrived because of the disconnect between politicians and people.

He said: "I don't blame Donald Trump, the Republican Party has shot itself in the foot. They need to get in touch with the base so we believe they care about us again."

Today's Republican movement could not be further from the optimistic place occupied by the president they still revere.

Donald Trump seen during an apology for making lewd comments about women

Thirty-six years after Ronald Reagan's win, they are still searching for someone who can sell conservative ideals to a broad swathe of the American people.

"Reagan didn't speak to Republicans, he spoke to Americans," said radio talk show host Mike Broomhead. "Americans felt like he stood up for them."

It is that sort of leadership that many Republicans say is lacking today.

The latest chapter of the search encompasses John McCain's loss in 2008, the rise of the Tea Party in 2010 and defeat of Mitt Romney in 2012. After that loss, the party agreed it needed to be more open and inclusive.

Not surprisingly, the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party sees the positives.

Robert Graham said: "It is one of our greatest values - sometimes it creates contention - that we don't want people just to line up. We want people to actually engage in debate."

At the moment Republicans risk losing power in Congress as well as remaining out of the White House. It makes this a critical time.

Republican strategist Shane Wickfors said: "I'm hoping that the Republicans can forgive one another and come back together and be unified and move forward with a better future.

"Somebody as a leader has to come out and inspire them to re-engage."

Party supporters remain hopeful that's what will emerge.

Mr Boas said: "The wheels fell off the party but the wheels will be put back on because a conservative party is essential to this nation."