The real story here is that the President, by force of his office and audacity, was able to inject into the national conversation a preposterous claim which the country has spent two weeks debating. True, most people may not believe it. But virtually everyone has gone through the motions of probing the question as though they might be true....But as we know, and as a new CBS/YouGov poll makes clear, it isn't merely that Trump is the president and most Americans assume the president of the United States wouldn't lie that brazenly -- it's that this president is regarded as a particularly reliable source of information, at least by his admirers -- and not just by his most fervent admirers.
I would say that this ability - both the President's pathological lying and our institutions' inability to grapple with it - is the big, big story. The particulars of the accusation basically pale in comparison....
While most have dismissed the President's claims, it is still the case that he has been allowed to drive public debate for two weeks over an obvious lie. Members of his party will not denounce it as a lie or even obviously false. That's a big problem. Without being overly dramatic, this is a warning case of people in power deciding what's true and false which is a harbinger of free government dying.
The poll divides respondents into four categories:
In this study we’ve been defining the strongest backers (the “believers,” for their strong belief in what he will do); those who support him but with the condition that he deliver on his promises (the “conditionals”); and those watching for a reason to support him but do not now (the “curious”); and those who oppose him, period, the “resisters.”That's 43% total -- pretty much in line with Gallup's daily tracking poll, in which Trump opponents regularly outnumber his supporters by a considerable amount, but in which Trump's support seems to have a floor somewhere around 40%.
... the number of staunchest supporters (the believers) [is] at 21 percent and conditional supporters at another 22 percent....
In the CBS/YouGov poll, the "curious" are 21% and the "resisters" are 36%.
So how do the supporters feel about Trump as an information source?
The president’s strongest backers say they rely on President Trump and Vice-President Pence (nine in ten do) even more than any other sources we asked about, including right-leaning websites and broadcasts, to give them accurate information about what’s going on. His more conditional supporters also turn to him for accurate information, just to a slightly lesser degree, and all his supporters say the mainstream media is inaccurate. About nine in ten of the strongest supporters also reject information coming from Democrats in Congress, left-leaning news sources, and the mainstream media as inaccurate.If you go to the numerical breakdown, you see that 93% of the "believers" think Trump is an accurate source of information, as do 67% of "conditionals." Only 9% of the "believers" think the mainstream media is reliable, and only 19% of the "conditionals."
Remember, it's the "conditionals" we on the left are hoping to flip in 2018 and beyond. But they're nearly as likely to think Trump is a truth-teller as the superfans.
No surprise, really. Heartland white Americans have been told for years that everything the liberal media says is a lie. This message has been hammered home by talk radio and, of course, Fox News. Heartland voters are now conditioned to believe that whoever hates the MSM the most, and whoever tells us things that deviate the most from what the MSM is telling us, must be the greatest truth-teller.
And that's Trump. That's why the wiretapping allegations will never be fully discredited. That's why supporters will still continue to believe that Trump will give everyone better health insurance at a lower cost, even as he's failing to do that right now. Here's an anecdote from a New York Times story about how the health care fight is playing out in Ohio:
Pegge Sines, 62, of rural Edgerton, Ohio, did not vote for president, but her husband, a longtime factory worker who died of lung cancer in December, was an ardent Trump supporter. They had subsidized private insurance through the health care law that covered virtually all his treatment, she said.They're benefiting from Obamacare. They absolutely won't benefit from Trump/Ryancare. But Pegge Sines just doesn't believe that's possible. Trump said he'd protect her, she believes it, and that settles it.
Ms. Sines now pays $222 a month for her insurance from the Affordable Care Act marketplace, with a tax credit of $712 covering the rest. That $8,544 annual subsidy is more than twice the $4,000 annual tax credit she would get under the Republican plan.
An aim of Republican legislation is to reduce private premiums, but Ms. Sines’s son, who along with her other two grown children signed up for Medicaid under the expansion, has been warning that their coverage could be “in trouble,” she said. She cannot believe Mr. Trump would allow that to happen.
“I can’t imagine them not keeping it like it is now,” said Ms. Sines, who runs a group home for the elderly.