Why Isn’t Donald Trump Polling at 0%?

Nancy LeTourneau asks the eternal question: is there any amount of fuckuppery that will cause Donald Trump’s supporters to abandon him?

There will always be the hardcore support for Trump—that can be expected in a country as large and diverse as the United States. But the fact that Trump’s approval rating continues to hover in the 40 percent range is appalling. Is there anything that could chip away at that? I see both good news and bad news on that front.

When it comes to good news, the one frame of reference for me is that my father, a staunch conservative Republican, continued his support for Richard Nixon through all of the revelations about his lies, corruption and obstruction of justice. In the end, dad finally abandoned him when the Oval Office tapes were published in book form because he couldn’t abide the frequency with which the president swore.

Holy hell. This is the good news? That even historically insane levels of corruption and abuse of power aren’t likely to move the Republican base?

Of course, this isn’t much of a surprise, especially these days. As LeTourneau points out (this is the bad news), conservative media mostly shields Trump’s base from even knowing about this stuff in the first place. But I’m not sure that’s really crucial anyway, since it affects only the hardcore Republican base, and that isn’t enough to keep Trump in office. The question is why Trump retains substantial support even from centrist conservatives.

For now, I think the answer is this: nothing much has gone wrong. What I mean by this is that despite the endless wailing of liberals like me, your average Republican voter hasn’t really seen anything falling apart. They still have jobs. Their 401(k) accounts are doing fine. North Korea is coming to the negotiating table. The Middle East is the same as always. Global warming continues to seem like no big deal. We’re sticking it to China. On TV Trump seemed pretty reasonable about both guns and immigration, so it’s not his fault that nothing is happening on those fronts.

And look: for people who are right of center and don’t eat and breathe politics, this is a perfectly sensible worldview. Sure, maybe these folks would prefer that Trump tone down the rhetoric and lay off the tweets, but at least his heart is in the right place. Why not give his policies a chance?

That said, Trump’s support has fallen over the past year: since his inauguration, Gallup has him down 6 points; 538 has him down 3.4 points; and Pollster has him down 2.4 points:

Modern American politics is played at the margins. It takes a lot to move voters by as much as 5-10 percent, especially when the economy is doing well. Right now, it looks like there’s a good chance of a huge blue wave in the November midterms even though the economy is growing and unemployment is low, and that says a lot. Trump’s support is more fragile than it seems at first glance.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.