Republicans Really, Really Hate It When a Democrat Is in the White House

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A few weeks ago I theorized that Republican views of various things change dramatically depending on whether a Republican is in the White House. Their view of the economy brightens almost instantly. They approve of bombing campaigns. They suddenly decide the income tax they pay is pretty fair after all.

Democrats do the same thing, but Republicans do it more. Via Twitter, Evan Horowitz points me to another bit of evidence from Pew Research in favor of this theory:

Democrats are basically in the range of 20-40 percent regardless of who’s in the White House. Republicans range from 10-60 percent. Their trust in government plummeted nearly 50 points when Clinton and Obama won. Democrats stayed pretty stable when Reagan won and dropped only about 20 points when Bush won.

However, I have a couple of caveats. First, Republican loss of faith seems to begin in the last couple of years of a Republican presidency, either because they start to feel betrayed or because they sense doom around the corner. I’ve used a rolling average in my chart to smooth things out a bit, but the timeline looks the same if you don’t.

Second, nobody is bringing counter-examples to my attention. That might be because they don’t exist, or it might be because my readers aren’t looking for evidence of this sort.

Still, the evidence does seem to be surprisingly consistent: Republican voters are far angrier about a Democrat in the White House than Democrats are about a Republican in the White House. This probably explains a few things, but I’m not quite sure what yet.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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