It be nice to have before-and-after data here centered around Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment, or even her speech on the alt-right a few weeks earlier. That would give us some idea of whether Clinton voters came to this conclusion about Trumpers organically or whether Hillary’s attacks brought them around to her own view of Trump’s base. Although even then we’d be left to wonder if Clinton voters truly agree with her or if they’re merely backing her up out of partisan duty when asked about this by pollsters.
Note the overall number: 52 percent agree that “about half” or more of Trump’s fans are racist. Which is interesting, because in a separate question that asked people specifically whether they agreed with Clinton’s “deplorables” comment, only 42 percent said yes versus 44 who said no. What explains the difference? It might be that people think she’s right on the merits but would rather not hear a presidential candidate deriding vast swaths of the electorate that way. In fact, when asked Clinton was right or wrong to say what she said, the public splits 31/51. This is, to many people, a truth best left un-uttered by would-be national leaders.
Nearly one-fifth of Trump voters believe that “none” of his supporters are racist. None?
Speaking of surprising Trump/Clinton polls, Pew is out with a new survey today that asks whether the media has been too easy or too hard on Trump. During the primaries that would have been an easy call: The press was a de facto Trump Super PAC, giving him billions in free airtime. Lately, though, it’s been more complicated. Since Trump clinched the nomination, the media has increasingly made clear that it not only prefers Clinton but views him as totally unfit for office and a potential threat to American stability. McCain and Romney sustained the usual “taking us back to a darker age” garbage but neither was criticized much for being morally or intellectually not up to the job, as Trump often is. CNN has taken to fact-checking Trump in the chyrons at the bottom of the screen when it airs footage of him, and WaPo ran an op-ed three days ago titled “Trump’s Hitlerian disregard for the truth,” for cripes sake. He’s taking plenty of heat now. Surely, given his ardent base and the more overt media distaste for him this year, the public would at least agree that the media’s been harder on him than it was on McCain or Romney, no?
The guy with the “Hitlerian” disregard for truth is getting it easier than the last few Republican nominees, huh? What could be leading people to that conclusion?
If you remember the left wetting its pants a few weeks ago when Matt Lauer neglected to fact-check Trump on his early stance on Iraq, you already know which side is really driving the conclusion that the media’s being too easy on him:
The number of Republicans who say the media’s being too easy on Hillary is about the same as the number who said so about the media and Obama in 2008 and 2012. The number of Democrats who say the media’s being too easy on Trump, though, is much higher than the number who said so about McCain and Romney. It’s been a core complaint in lefty media over the last few months (and much more so after the presidential forum hosted by Lauer) that Trump is not a normal candidate and yet the press has normalized him by letting his most dubious statements pass without much challenge. It’s one thing not to instantly fact-check Mitt Romney when he makes an arcane point about marginal tax rates, it’s another not to fact-check Trump when he claims he was against the Iraq war since before the beginning. It’s one thing not to throw a fit when Romney says he’d scale back funding for PBS, it’s another not to throw a fit when Trump says he’d issue illegal orders to the military. They’re terrified about that complacency further normalizing Trump at the debates on the biggest possible stage, which is why they beat Lauer to a pulp. They were sending a message to the moderators not to make the same mistake. It’s strange to say but probably true that, while Republicans are more likely to see bias towards the other nominee than Democrats are, Democrats are more exercised about media bias in this election. A few of them, probably Trump fans among the center-left or Hillary-hating Berniebros on the far left, are even exercised about media bias in favor of Hillary. Note above that 16 percent of Dems say the media’s been too easy on Clinton. For all the hype about #NeverTrump on the right, there are more Dems complaining about bias favoring their nominee than Republicans complaining about bias favoring theirs.
If you’re looking for #NeverTrumpers, though, there’s some circumstantial evidence of them here. When Republicans are asked if the media has been too tough on their candidate, 46 percent say yes. That’s a lot — but it’s actually one point less than the number who said in 2012 that they were too tough on Romney. Despite the Hitler analogies and widespread disdain for Trump among cable news pundits, there’s some small but meaningful cohort on the right, it seems, that thinks the dire media coverage of Trump is pretty well justified. Along, of course, with the belief of embittered Cruz fans, Rubio fans, Kasich fans, et al, that after the media went face-first into the tank for Trump in the primaries, there’s really no way they could overcorrect to the point where they’d end up “too tough” on him now.