The biggest myth in all of politics is that Donald Trump’s supporters won’t abandon him no matter what he does. We’ve heard the media suggest that Trump’s strategy to cater to his own supporters will keep him afloat, because they won’t leave him. And we’ve also heard pessimists from the anti-Trump resistance insist that Trump’s supporters will never give up on him. But this premise can be easily and mathematically disproven, because he’s already bled in large numbers.
Back when Trump first took office in January, his average approval rating was in the mid forties. At present, his average approval rating is in the mid thirties. It means he’s slowly and steadily lost a little more than one-fifth of the people who supported him when his term first began (if you’re not clear on how the math works, divide 35 by 45 on a calculator). People don’t generally like to admit that they were wrong about a new president this early on, and yet here we are already. It’s only been six months, and he’s lost a stunning number of people.
And yet far too few people on any side seem to be capable of acknowledging this reality. Trump keeps insisting his sinking poll numbers are fake, and his remaining supporters seem to believe him. Meanwhile too many voices in the anti-Trump crowd keep loudly and assertively insisting that “Trump’s base will never abandon him no matter what he does.” It’s never been clear why so many anti-Trump people feel compelled to cling to this particular bit of fiction. But that phrase gets aggressively hurled at me any time I report that the numbers show Trump has lost even more of his support. Perhaps some in the Resistance simply can’t accept the notion that anyone pathetic enough to support Trump could ever do something honorable, such as admitting they were wrong. And yet droves of former Trump supporters have gone on to admit they were wrong about him. The numbers prove it.
The media periodically makes a big deal of out of his sinking poll numbers, but it still largely fails to acknowledge that Trump’s approval rating is not at all the same thing as his base. Trump’s base is perhaps 15% of the country and always has been. The remainder of his approval rating consists of people who never loved him, and have only ever passively approved of him. He’s been losing people from that second ground all along. If he keeps losing them, it really won’t matter what his 15% core base does.
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