Pew: Less than half of Trump supporters say it's very important to democracy for the media to be free to criticize political leaders

We’re going to censor so much, you’re going to get bored with all the censoring, that I can tell you.

Between this and the left’s romance with “hate speech” dirtbaggery, I’m not ruling out moving to … actually, I can’t think of a country whose speech laws are better than America’s. At least at the moment.


Even fewer Trumpers say that respecting the outcome of democratic elections is, um, very important to democracy. I was taken aback by the “free press” result when I saw it this morning, but let me take a breath and try to talk myself off the ledge. One: This is merely the number who say it’s “very” important for the media to be able to criticize a candidate freely. There’s surely another chunk of supporters who say it’s “somewhat” important, which, combined with the other number, makes for a hefty majority. Even with Trump complaining every day that the media is in the tank, most Trump fans still retain their civic good sense. Two: Any poll you take right now, in the thick of a national election, will inevitably see the data distorted due to partisan passions. Ask Trumpers at any other time of year whether it’s important for the media to be able to criticize political leaders and you might get 60 percent or better on this question, I suspect. Ask them again when a Democrat is caught in a major scandal that the press is feasting on and you might get 70 percent or higher. We have to grade on a curve during an election season. Charitably, I think you can interpret this result simply as a smack upside the head of the media for being deeply and overtly anti-Trump. It’s less a “take the press’s freedom away!” thing than a “the media is using its freedom irresponsibly” thing. I think. I hope.

Now that we’ve looked at an unflattering result for Trumpers, let’s look at one for Clintonistas:


Nearly 60 percent of Clinton voters can’t find some respect for those who are casting a symbolic vote against the status quo, even after Berniemania in the primaries? Michael Moore could. Even “Saturday Night Live” could. How many polls have we seen over the past eight years that show way, way more Americans view the country as being on the wrong track rather than the right track? Some of the antipathy here among Hillary voters, I assume, is being driven by media attention to the alt-right as well as to Trump’s own personal failings, which they regard as disqualifying. His most hardcore supporters do put out a cultish vibe for him sometimes, as Trump himself admits. Here’s a fun fact for you, though, from this same poll: Nearly half of Trump’s own voters (46 percent to be precise) say that he’s “hard to like.” When you drill down on that and separate those who backed him in the primaries versus those who backed another Republican, 71 percent of the latter group and even 25 percent of the former call him “hard to like.” Fewer than half of his supporters describe themselves as voting for him rather than against Clinton. (For Clinton, it’s the opposite. Fifty-seven percent of her backers are voting for her.) Likewise, just 56 percent of Trump supporters back him “strongly” versus 67 percent of Romney voters who said that about Mitt. There are a lot — a majority, in fact — of Trump voters who are with him reluctantly, whether for partisan reasons, because they’ve concluded Clinton is too corrupt to wield power responsibly, or as a protest vote against “the system.” Is it that hard to muster some respect?

This whole poll is worth skimming, as there are all sorts of interesting data tidbits (go find the Democratic versus Republican numbers on TPP, for instance), but I’ll leave you with two. Does … this surprise you?


Sixty percent of Trump voters are amnesty shills, huh? Actually, that shouldn’t surprise you, and not just because there are, as noted, lots of reluctant Trump voters in the “Trump supporters” category right now. In mid-March, when Trump was rolling through the primaries, a different Pew poll found a surprisingly large number of Trumpers were open to letting illegals stay subject to certain conditions — 47 percent. That was back when he was pounding the table about mass deportation. Now, having “softened” a bit on legalization in September and toned the deportation talk down, support among his voters for letting illegals stay is above majority levels. The most hardcore border enforcers in the GOP have never been all that adamant about sending illegals home en masse, it seems. For some, I think, the appeal of Trump’s hard line was more about how it signaled his defiance of ruling-class conventional wisdom than the actual merits of the policy. A guy who’d campaign on the message that illegals need to go is a guy who’s not afraid to have the guardians of elite opinion mad at him.

One more number (well, one more graph with several noteworthy numbers):


I can’t help noticing that the 60 percent who say Trump doesn’t have much respect for women mirrors almost exactly the percentage of voters in national polls who are supporting other candidates. He’s been averaging around 40 percent in the four-way race this entire year; virtually everyone else in the electorate thinks he lacks basic respect for more than half the population. The numbers who say he doesn’t respect Latinos or Muslims are even larger (which means even some Trump voters agree), and a clear majority says he doesn’t respect blacks. This, I think, is part of the grand “temperament” question that’s dogged him all year. Intuitively it’s hard for me to imagine swing voters going into the booth believing that Trump doesn’t respect women and minorities and tilting towards him anyway over Clinton. Even if they think there are policy reasons to do so, things like this cut to a more basic assessment of whether he should represent the country as its national leader. That’s why I think the election favors her, although I’m slightly less sure of that than I was this morning.