Donald Trump’s base can’t save him now

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For as long as Donald Trump has been in office, Palmer Report has been posting periodic reminders that his ouster was always going to come down to a numbers game. Republicans in Congress wake up each morning, look at Trump’s approval rating, and decide how to approach him that day. If he had dropped into the twenties at any point, we’d probably have a different president by now. Instead, because he’s bottomed out in the thirties, we’ve settled into a grind. But that’s about to no longer matter.

Palmer Report’s math says that Donald Trump’s base is roughly 15% of the country. FiveThirtyEight thinks it’s closer to 20%. The point is that it’s nowhere near the thirty—something percent of Americans who are still saying “yes” when asked by pollsters whether they approve of Trump. So who are these additional people outside Trump’s base? They’re the people who were never sold on him, but have been waiting to see if he ever gets his act together.

Yes, these people do exist in spades. People who are knee deep into political activism tend to forget this, but the average American does not watch any cable newscast channel, and does not regularly pay attention to political developments. At this point the average American is sitting around waiting to see if Trump’s alleged crimes and treason turn out to be real or fake. The average American doesn’t know who Robert Mueller is, and doesn’t care that Trump’s underlings have been arrested and have begun pleading guilty. The average American is waiting for something definitive and easy to understand about Trump’s criminal status.

Now that the Feds are kicking in the doors on Donald Trump’s attorney, and Robert Mueller is on the verge of releasing the first of his reports about Trump’s crimes, that’s all about to change. Average Americans are about to get their easy answer about Trump being a criminal. That’s when he’ll lose the support of those outside his base who have been hesitantly propping him up.


No president can survive with just the 15% to 20% support that Donald Trump’s base comprises. As we get very loud answers about Trump’s guilt, and his non-base support erodes, it won’t matter what Trump’s base says or does. Trump’s base has never played any role in the question of his survival. They’re simply not large enough. Anyone who’s still focusing on Trump’s base has had it wrong from the start.

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