Donald Trump has been the primary occupant at the White House (and visitor of the golf course at Mar-a-Lago) for 101 mostly unproductive days now. The vast majority of the accomplishments the he promised he would achieve in his first 100 days remain unfulfilled. His foreign policy can be best described as disjointed and he has managed insult and/or alienate the majority of our closest allies around the world. Congress, which Trump claimed he easily would bend to his will, remains totally unmanageable though his party controls both the House and the Senate. He had to fire newly appointed National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who now appears to have broken several laws dealing with receiving payments from foreign governments. He and several of his campaign staff are under FBI investigation for colluding with the Russian spies who interfered with the Presidential election.
In summary, Trump’s first 100 days in office have been an unmitigated disaster. His approval ratings, which were already relatively low during the campaign, never saw the post election bump every other recent president has experienced as the county rallied around its new Commander-in-Chief. Instead with approval ratings in the low 40% range and disapproval ratings around 55%, Trump has set a new low mark for modern presidents at the 100 day mark. The average rating for past 10 presidents at this point of their first term is a 69 percent approval and a 19 percent disapproval rating, with Bill Clinton being the lowest with 55% approval and 37% disapproval. Trump is truly in a class by himself.
Yet polling has revealed time and time again that while some of his supporters are disappointed, around 98% say that they would vote for him again. For those of us who see Donald Trump as a failing con man who is not fit to be President of the United States, this is truly baffling. It is a phenomenon which begs explanation. As I researched this subject this I found that the reasons why Trump voters remain loyal are many and varied and many may have multiple reasons why they will not yet abandon Trump.
First Hillary Clinton was right; some of Trump’s most ardent supporters are a basket of deplorables. Thump’s dog whistles appealed directly to white supremacist hate groups across the country and he never effectively disavowed their support. They are often seen at his rallies, included the one just concluded in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Trump’s deplorables extend to the many sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic individuals spread across this nation. They may not amount to half of Trump’s supporters, but he is deplorables’ standard bearer; of course they would vote for him again. He remains the most deplorable candidate ever to win Presidency in our lifetimes, maybe in all American history.
Quite the opposite are Trump voters who consider themselves as upstanding Americans and were quite put out during the campaign with being lumped in with his “basket of deplorables”. Some of them were so angered by the press and the Democrats who identified with that slur that they responded by proudly assuming the “deplorable” label, printing on the tea shirts they wore and the signs they carried. They feel that they were essentially driven into a corner because of their support of Trump and they stubbornly won’t abandon him now.
Over the years many Americans have grown resentful of the current state of national politics. Trump catered to this demographic in particular. Sick of traditional politicians, this segment of the population wanted an outsider who would take on Washington and blow it all up, and that is exactly what they got in Trump. He was their man during the primaries and campaign and he has done nothing thus far to disappoint them since his election. They hear Trump fifth grade vocabulary and observe his totally unconventional style which has broken nearly every protocol of his high office and they see a plain spoken man who is doing exactly what they sent him to Washington to do. As long their man Steve Bannon remains in his position to attempt to inject chaos into the Washington scene, the alt right will not abandon Trump.
Evangelical Christians have rationalized their support for Trump in spite of his very un-Christ like behavior by pointing out that “God has often uses imperfect perfect people as instruments of his will”. Despite his many moral short comings, many evangelicals have supported Trump because of what he promised to for them politically. He has already made their fondest wish come true with the nomination and seating of conservative Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court bench. They believe Justice Gorsuch will help them overturn Roe vs. Wade and other “liberal” decisions the highest court has made, especially in the area of separation of church and state. They are probably already praying for the retirement or death of older liberal Justices, if it be God’s will of course. They aren’t going to abandon Trump now, he is their flawed hero.
Of course, there are always Republican’s who voted for Trump out of party loyalty and a severe distaste for any Democratic candidate. Asking if they would vote for Trump again is tantamount to asking them if they would ever vote for his Democratic opponent. In their mind that would never happen. Their answer to that inquiry will likely never change, they would rather to simply refuse to answer the question.
Then there are simple demographics. The majority of young people voted for Hillary Clinton, but Trump won a majority all of the age demographics over 40. In addition, statistics show that the older a voter was, the more likely he/she was to vote for Trump. In my experience, older people are more set in their ways. Once they make a decision on a candidate they are more likely to stubbornly stick with them, unwilling to admit that they were wrong. If Trump could not drive them away with his antics during the primaries and the presidential campaign, he is unlikely to drive them off now. Older people are also more likely to be conservative and I have yet to find someone more stubborn than an old conservative.
Exit polls also demonstrated that at least among white Americans, the less educated a person was, the more likely he/she was to vote for Trump. Among all Americans, the more educated a voter was, the more likely he/she was to vote for Hillary Clinton. I could draw several insulting conclusions based on these statistics, but I will settle for this one fairly innocuous assumption. The lower their education level, on average, the less likely it is that people will keep up with the daily ins and outs of Washington politics.
So it is it is possible that many under educated Trump voters are not totally aware of how big a mess he is making of things. In addition, many of under educated Trump voters who do keep up with the latest in politics are likely getting their information from Fox News and conservative talk show hosts who are still supporting Trump, hardly the most accurate news available. In addition, under educated voters, unless they are inherently smart, are less likely to see through Trump’s many lies. Hence, most continue is blissful ignorance.
And lastly the number one reason why Trump’s base remains fiercely loyal to him – he remains loyal to them. Once in office most presidents move to expand their approach to appeal to even those who didn’t vote for them. Not Trump. He can’t seem to get out of campaign mode and continues to fashion his words and actions to appeal strictly to his minority group of core voters, even when it results in alienating everyone else.
And when he doesn’t have good news for them, he lies. According to fact checking by the Washington Post Trump lied 488 times in his first 100 days in the White House. That is an average of almost 5 lies a day. I believe he speaks in fantasy because he knows his base wants to believe his lies much more than they want to believe the truth (AKA: fake news) that they hear from legitimate media outlets. So many of Trump’s most loyal fans are able to rationalize their continued support of him by choosing to live in an alternate reality.
There may be other reasons why, in defiance of all rational thinking, Trump voters continue to remain loyal to him. However, everything I have experienced and read leads me to believe that none but perhaps a very tiny minority of Trump voters will abandon him unless he does something truly horrific in their minds. And remember, they are much more tolerant of his totally outlandish behavior than we are.