Poll: Majority of Republicans say the media is the enemy of the people

I wonder where they got that idea.

No, in fairness to POTUS, although he’s done more than any other Republican to amplify this belief, it predates his political career by many years. It’s much more accurate to say that Trump is president because righties believe the media is the enemy than that righties believe the media is the enemy because Trump is president.

I don’t consider any media org to be my enemy. Except CNN, I mean. Pee-yew.

An interesting footnote there: Among whites without a college degree, the core of POTUS’s populist base, just 33 percent call the media the enemy of the people. This is very much an ideological thing, not one that’s driven by class or support for Trump per se.

A smart friend said to me this morning about the 51/37 Republican split that maaaaybe there would have been fewer righties calling the media “the enemy” if the pollster, Quinnipiac, had offered them better options. If a pollster asks you whether the media are “cherubim and seraphim of liberal values” or “Satan’s minions,” the correct answer obviously is “neither.” The truth is more nuanced. But since you’re being given an either/or, you might translate the question in your mind to “Are the media more good than bad or more bad than good” and opt for the latter — i.e. “Satan’s minions.” A more nuanced question (e.g., “Do you think the media try to get to the truth but have an ideological bias or do you think the media are enemies of the people?”) might have produced a more pro-media result.

If you want to see how tweaking the wording can affect the result, consider this similar question from UVA’s political shop last year:

Result: 87/13 among Republicans! And yet, according to the new Quinnipiac data above, a year later it’s down to 51/37. How come? Is it because many GOPers have developed strange new affection for the press over the past 12 months as they’ve gone about hammering Trump every day? Nah, of course not. The difference in the two polls is probably due to (a) Trump being named in the question asked by UVA but not in the one asked by Quinnipiac and (b) UVA giving people more options in answering, from “strongly agree” to “somewhat agree.” When you prompt Republicans by reminding them that POTUS holds this opinion, they may be more likely to agree with it. But when you give them a choice between emphatically agreeing and agreeing with reservations, more choose the option with reservations. If you rephrased the question to give them an option besides “enemy,” like “important to democracy, but insufferably smug and hopelessly liberal,” they might choose that instead.

Another interesting but unrelated data point from the Quinnipiac poll, by the way:

Ask Republicans if they think Russiagate is a witch hunt or a legitimate investigation and they split 82/14. Ask them if they think Trump should be removed from office or not if he fires Mueller and they split 6/91. But ask them if he *should* fire Mueller and, as you can see, they’re solidly against it, 25/59. I don’t know how to square all of those results except to theorize that GOPers are very, very nervous about the political backlash to Trump dropping the axe. They may think Mueller deserves it, they may think Russiagate is a pile of garbage, but they seem pretty keenly aware that nuking Mueller might amount to Trump nuking his own presidency. If he’s unwilling to listen to warnings from Senate Republicans that he should lay off, maybe he’ll listen to his own supporters.

One more from the poll, this time a warning to Democrats:

The Democratic base is verrrrrry gung ho for impeachment if they retake the House — and they’re the only group that is. Republicans are obviously adamantly against it but so are independents, by and large, and they’re a faction that typically doesn’t poll well for POTUS. If Pelosi ends up back in charge, she’s going to be caught between a liberal constituency that wants her to stick it to Trump and a wider electorate that might punish Democrats for that in 2020, especially since Trump is all but certain to survive removal proceedings in the Senate (barring any Mueller-related blockbusters in the interim, of course). Between being stuck with a Republican president for at least two more years and a base that wants war with the White House, Pelosi may spend the bulk of her new Speakership explaining to her own voters why she can’t get anything passed and why she also can’t do what they’re most interested in doing.