Nancy LeTourneau asks the eternal question: is there any amount of fuckuppery that will cause Donald Trump’s supporters to abandon him?
There will always be the hardcore support for Trump—that can be expected in a country as large and diverse as the United States. But the fact that Trump’s approval rating continues to hover in the 40 percent range is appalling. Is there anything that could chip away at that? I see both good news and bad news on that front.
When it comes to good news, the one frame of reference for me is that my father, a staunch conservative Republican, continued his support for Richard Nixon through all of the revelations about his lies, corruption and obstruction of justice. In the end, dad finally abandoned him when the Oval Office tapes were published in book form because he couldn’t abide the frequency with which the president swore.
Holy hell. This is the good news? That even historically insane levels of corruption and abuse of power aren’t likely to move the Republican base?
Of course, this isn’t much of a surprise, especially these days. As LeTourneau points out (this is the bad news), conservative media mostly shields Trump’s base from even knowing about this stuff in the first place. But I’m not sure that’s really crucial anyway, since it affects only the hardcore Republican base, and that isn’t enough to keep Trump in office. The question is why Trump retains substantial support even from centrist conservatives.
For now, I think the answer is this: nothing much has gone wrong. What I mean by this is that despite the endless wailing of liberals like me, your average Republican voter hasn’t really seen anything falling apart. They still have jobs. Their 401(k) accounts are doing fine. North Korea is coming to the negotiating table. The Middle East is the same as always. Global warming continues to seem like no big deal. We’re sticking it to China. On TV Trump seemed pretty reasonable about both guns and immigration, so it’s not his fault that nothing is happening on those fronts.
And look: for people who are right of center and don’t eat and breathe politics, this is a perfectly sensible worldview. Sure, maybe these folks would prefer that Trump tone down the rhetoric and lay off the tweets, but at least his heart is in the right place. Why not give his policies a chance?
Modern American politics is played at the margins. It takes a lot to move voters by as much as 5-10 percent, especially when the economy is doing well. Right now, it looks like there’s a good chance of a huge blue wave in the November midterms even though the economy is growing and unemployment is low, and that says a lot. Trump’s support is more fragile than it seems at first glance.