Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
The widely accepted notion that an army of the economically dispossessed forms the core of Donald Trump’s support may be more myth than fact. That’s the conclusion of a massive new study by Gallup that analyzed 87,000 interviews the polling organization conducted over the last year. It found that Trump supporters aren’t suffering more acutely than the rest of the population from the effects of trade or immigration. Nor are they likelier to earn less or to be out of work. And even among white Republicans, Trump doesn’t perform better in those communities that have seen manufacturing jobs disappear over the last quarter-century.
Polling indicates Trump’s strongest backing comes from less-educated white men typically in blue collar jobs. Beyond that profile, the study raises more questions than it answers about what factors are most likely to predict support for the GOP nominee. But some gossamer threads emerge: Trump does notably well in areas with low economic mobility and in areas where whites live in isolation. The trends make some sense. Those who see dimmer prospects for their children may be more willing to take a chance on an unconventional candidate. And white Republicans who live closer to the Mexican border or surrounded by more Hispanics are relatively anti-Trump, suggesting those who have no personal contact with Hispanic immigrants are less likely to be put off by Trump’s hardline approach and charged rhetoric on immigration.
Yet it seems there are limits to what can be understood through dicing the electorate by income, employment, race, age, and zip code. An alternate Unifying Theory of Trump’s Support, based on a December poll with a much smaller sample, found that an inclination toward authoritarian leaders was the most powerful indicator. This is, after all, arguably less a contest of ideas than any presidential campaign in modern times. Instead, it’s a dual referendum on two galvanizing personalities. And rather than turn that fact to his advantage by keeping the focus on his opponent — or change the dynamic altogether by running on detailed economic solutions — Trump has acted like a tuning fork, homing in on a strongman pitch that sings to a small and shrinking share of voters. Needless to say, it isn’t working.
• GOP insiders turn on Trump
With polls down and the Trump campaign seemingly failing to do much about it, it was just a matter of time before Republican insiders wrote off this presidential election as a lost cause and focused on the House, the Senate, and 2020. It appears that time is now. Around half of the GOP insiders polled by Politico think that Trump has basically no chance to get to 270 electoral votes — even the Democrats the site talked to believe in the GOP candidate more.
• We don’t need no education
There are always a lot of demographic lines in a presidential election — drawn along race, gender, and geography. This year’s race, though, is showing a clear division based on education. Hillary Clinton is winning by 25 points among college graduates, while Trump wins by 10 points among those without a post-secondary degree.
• Rubio urges social conservatives to moderate
During the Republican primary contest, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tried to cast himself as an evangelical hero, repeatedly condemning gay marriage. Now, though, he is urging Christian conservatives to moderate their tone on gay rights, and he’s even using the acronym “LGBT.”
New York Times
Around the Water Cooler
• Bernie’s house
Bernie Sanders made bigger waves than anybody thought he would during the Democratic primaries this year with his populist, democratic socialist message. Now he’s back in the news for buying a $600,000 vacation home. This is getting him some heat from the right, fairly or not.
• Mitch McConnell gets fatalistic
Even if some of the GOP’s energy is shifted to Senate and House races, their is a very serious chance that the upper chamber swings back the the Democrats this year. Mitch McConnell seems to know that, now acknowledging publicly that he may not be the one in charge of the Senate come January.
• Trump could impact races even further down ballot
Forget about the House and the Senate for a second — it seems like there is a chance Trump is dragging on the GOP so badly that the party could be in danger of losing its huge advantages in statehouse races, seriously impacting their ability to make change at a more local level.