Tuesday, June 09, 2020


Greg Sargent of The Washington Post has a theory about why President Trump's poll numbers are dropping:
... a new analysis by Nate Cohn of the Upshot ... finds that Trump’s slippage is driven largely by his eroding support among white voters, particularly those said to be his base....

[Joe] Biden ... continues to hold an average lead of seven points [over Trump] among seniors, Cohn finds, which is striking amid all this unrest and amid Trump’s bluster about responding with “STRENGTH!” ...

One possible reason for all this can be found in the new Post/Schar School poll: There is a very large shift underway in how white voters view the issues underlying the protests....

Only 39 percent of them approve of Trump’s approach, while 57 percent disapprove; 69 percent of them support the protests; and 68 percent of them say Floyd’s death reveals systemic police mistreatment of blacks.
Is that it? Was Trump doing fine before George Floyd was killed? Is his response to the killing and the protests what changed public opinion?

I think it's a significant factor. But his numbers were dropping even before Floyd's death on May 25.

Here's my theory: The voters Trump has lost spent the first three years of his presidency thinking: Well, he's not the most gracious president we've ever had, but he was a highly successful businessman and he knows how to get things done. I know, I know -- but a significant portion of America believed this in 2016, and continued to believe it for years afterward; many still believe it.

Trump, who was an incompetent CEO and is an even more incompetent president, sustained his reputation because many things happened to go well on his watch. A years-long economic recovery continued into his term. The wind-down of U.S. involvement in Middle Eastern wars was well under way when he took office. The taming of ISIS, for which Trump claims sole credit, was just the culmination of what President Obama started.

So people who thought Trump was that sage and brilliant CEO from The Apprentice continue to labor under the delusion that he knew what he was doing. If you'd asked them how he'd handle a real crisis, they'd have said they were certain he'd handle it with his usual brilliance.

Unfortunately, they were right. He did handle it with his usual brilliance, or lack thereof.

The coronavirus hit and he utterly failed. To the less-than-worshipful portion of his base, this must have come as a shock: Our big-brained president couldn't handle this expertly?

He didn't, and now this portion of the electorate is mortally afraid of the virus, and sees no sign that Trump has ever done anything to make the populace safer. And then came the Floyd killing and unrest in the streets, and the myth of Trump's competence was belied again when he had no good response to police brutality and no good response to mayhem in the streets (or even the mayhem outside the White House gates).

When George W. Bush's popularity declined, it wasn't just a sudden response to his mismanagement during Katrina. Prior to that, many of his supporters were disillusioned by his support for Social Security privatization, by his rejection of Terri Schiavo's wish not to have her life prolonged, and by his ongoing failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Katrina may have pushed him over the edge, but his numbers were on a steady decline all through his second term.

Let's hope that process has begun with Trump, and is irreversible.

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