Watching clips from recent rallies in red states, it is obvious that President Donald Trump continues to be wildly popular among his hardcore far-right base. But that base is by no means representative of the United States on the whole. And journalist David A. Graham, in a report for The Atlantic, explains that not only is Trump failing to expand his base — he is, more and more, out of touch with public opinion.
“Recent polling shows that Donald Trump has managed to reshape American attitudes to a remarkable extent on a trio of his key issues: race, immigration and trade,” Graham observes. “There’s just one catch: the public is turning against Trump’s views.”
Graham, in his article, goes on to prove his point. For example, Graham notes, Trump has “long sought to use racial tension to gain political leverage,” but a Reuters poll found that Americans “were more likely to empathize with African-Americans” — including “whites without a college degree,” who played an important role in Trump’s victory over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Graham goes on to report that according to Reuters, the number of whites who believe that “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage” has decreased by 9% since August 2018.
Citing data from Duke University political scientist Ashley Jardina, Graham adds that the “number of Americans who espouse white identity politics” has decreased by 10% since Trump took office in January 2017.
At the same time, according to Graham, the Trump era has “radicalized Democrats” — especially white Democrats, who Graham describes as being “actually more liberal on race” than non-white Democrats.
Immigration has been one of Trump’s main issues, and Graham notes that “white Americans are 19% more supportive of a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants than they were four years ago, and slightly less supportive of increased deportations” (according to Reuters). Moreover, Graham observes, 75% of Americans — which he describes as a “record high” — said, in 2018, that they believed immigration is good for the U.S.
“One big problem for Trump is that voters have now gotten a chance to see him implement ideas that seemed novel or at least worth a shot during the campaign, and they don’t like what they’re seeing in practice,” Graham asserts. A trade war with China, Graham explains, “might have seemed worthwhile” in 2016, but a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found released on August 18 found that 64% of Americans now view free trade as a positive thing — compared to 57% in 2017 or 55% in 2016.
Graham concludes his piece by stressing that if public opinion continues to move away from Trumpism, the president’s rally-the-base strategy could prove problematic for him in 2020.
“With his focus on increasing racial divisions, stoking immigration fears and fighting a trade war, President Trump is poised to stake his reelection on turning out the same base that he did in 2016 — and hoping that those voters who elected Barack Obama but stayed home rather than cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton will take a pass once again,” Graham stresses. “But Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 was razor-thin, because he lost the popular vote and won key midwestern states by only a few tens of thousands of votes. If anti-racist voters remain more enthused than prejudiced ones, it’s difficult to see how he would repeat that feat.”