Does Trump’s Base Approve of Cutting and Running in Syria?

Over at the Washington Monthly, Tabitha Sanders comments on Donald Trump’s withdrawal from Syria:

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly stated his intentions to pull U.S. troops out of Syria….The policy change is in line with a worldview Trump has championed since his political rise: America shouldn’t continue spending trillions of dollars on other people’s wars overseas. While that may appeal to his rabid America-First base, he’s likely seeking another outcome with this decision.

Mark Landler of the New York Times seems to agree that this was a base-pleasing move:

If there was a common thread in Mr. Trump’s actions, it was his unswerving conviction that his political survival depends on securing his conservative base. Those supporters have pounded him relentlessly in recent weeks for his failure to build a border wall with Mexico….He criticized the Fed because its policy is dampening the stock market….And he pulled troops out of Syria because it fulfilled a campaign promise to extract the United States from foreign wars.

But is this true? Trump’s base is basically blue-collar white men, and this is the same group that’s supported every war since 9/11. These folks love the military, and by that I mean they love sending the military abroad to kick the asses of anyone who doesn’t like us. They were furious when President Obama pulled troops out of Iraq and furious yet again when he put a timetable on the surge of troops of Afghanistan. And then again when Obama originally refused to intervene in Syria.

Scott Clement at the Washington Post agrees, saying Trump’s surprise withdrawal “marks a rare instance in which Trump has broken strongly with his political base, which has widely supported military efforts to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.” He shows us this poll from July as evidence:

I’d sure like to see a detailed poll about this taken before Trump’s announcement. The problem is that there’s hardly any point in taking one now. Trump’s base is so cultish that they probably all changed their minds as soon as Trump said that ISIS was on the run and he was bringing our boys home. Likewise, an awful lot of liberals have suddenly decided that pulling troops out of the Middle East isn’t such a good idea after all.

I’d be a lot more interested in seeing what these groups thought specifically about Syria a few months ago. Unfortunately, I can’t find a poll that’s any more detailed than the one above. Does anybody know of one?


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


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.


Support our journalism

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


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.