Democratic and progressive groups may have found the silver bullet that will penetrate Donald Trump's phony populism.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that while conducting focus groups for the Public Citizen watchdog group, veteran progressive pollster Stan Greenberg found "almost immediately" two weak points in Trump's base.
"Greenberg found that working-class white voters who switched from Barack Obama to Trump are deeply angry about soaring prescription drug prices," Plum Line writer Greg Sargent noted. "As a result, they vehemently oppose a key provision benefiting Big Pharma at the core of Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA — which he touts as proof that he’s delivering for his working-class white base."
Trump is likely to build his reelection campaign on two major issues, Sargent wrote: "prescription drugs and trade." Both got air time during his State of the Union address earlier in the week.
But the linkage of the two for white, working-class Obama-turned-Trump voters is "game-changing," Greenberg wrote in a blog provided to the Post.
"Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA does accomplish some things progressives and Democrats support, such as mandates for higher wages on auto workers and an end to a dispute resolution mechanism favoring capital," the report noted. "But the rewrite also expands patent protections for some pharmaceutical drugs to 10 years, shielding them from generic competition."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and some other Democrats have vowed not to pass the new NAFTA without major changes because, as the Massachusetts progressive noted last year, it is "stuffed with handouts that will let big drug companies lock in the high prices they charge for many drugs,” thus raising prices “seniors and anyone else who needs access to life-saving medicine."
In his focus groups, Greenberg found that the white working-class voters he polled "hate" pharmaceutical companies and believe Big Pharma is the cause of prescription price-gouging.
"They are buying their laws, basically," one man told Greenberg.
These findings open up a new avenue of argument in the multitude to be made against Trump, Sargent pointed out: that his platform built on complaining about how powerful people "rigged" the system was hypocritical and that he's done more rigging on their behalf.