Monday, September 03, 2018


At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake tries to determine the number of true Trump diehards:
Matthew Miller's reaction to the new Washington Post-ABC News poll Friday caught my eye. The poll showed just 18 percent of Americans believed President Trump should pardon Paul Manafort.

"This is the 'shoot someone on 5th Avenue' caucus, and it's much lower than Trump would have you believe," the former Obama-era Justice Department official tweeted....

Which got me thinking: How big is the "shoot someone on Fifth Avenue" caucus in America?

The answer I arrived at as anywhere from 1 in 8 to 1 in 5 Americans -- between 12 and 20 percent, around where Miller pegged it.
Blake reaches this conclusion after looking at responses to poll questions such as "12 percent say it's not a 'big deal' if Russia interferes to help Republicans (Yahoo-SurveyMonkey) and "15 percent say there is almost nothing Trump could do to lose their support (Public Religion Research Institute). Blake notes that last year Public Policy Polling directly asked respondents whether they would approve if Trump shot someone on Fifth Avenue (22% said they would, perhaps just out spite).

But does all of this prove that Trump could someday fall to sub-Nixon numbers? Maybe, maybe not. (Nixon's lowest Gallup approval rating was 24%.)

Trump isn't really going to shoot anyone. He clearly seems capable of terrible behavior, but he's a lazy, pampered couch-potato septuagenarian. Shooting people is just not his style.

What might we someday learn that Trump has done? Compromised our electoral system on his own and Vladimir Putin's behalf? Engaged in massive amounts of self-dealing? Frolicked with urinating Russian prostitutes?

We've already had the Access Hollywood tape and the Stormy Daniels story. We've had the insults of John McCain, Serge Kovaleski, Alicia Machado, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and the Khan family. We've had Charlottesville. Trump's numbers sink, but he seems to have a floor of about 35% support.

That's because his approval rating isn't a referendum on a particular Trump deed. Trump might do something that only 12 to 20 percent of the public approves of. But a larger percentage of the public will probably still approve of him, no matter what he's done.

That's because he's not judged in isolation -- he's be judged against his political opponents. Negative partisanship seems to be good for at least 10 extra points, because, as we learned in 2016, you can do pretty much anything and Republican voters will say that Democrats are worse.

Recent polls have shown a significant drop in Trump's approval rating -- but that mid-30s floor is still holding. I think his numbers will inch up soon, once we're no longer talking about his insulting response to the death of John McCain and the fact that Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are now felons. Trump will have more Republican support at the bitter end than Nixon did, because owning the libs, and keeping them out of power, is more important to GOP voters now.

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