Is it really that surprising? The modern party’s geographic base consists of the same states that reacted to Lincoln’s election by seceding. Old grievances die hard.
This poll is circulating today among anti-Trumpers of various stripes as evidence of how completely the cult of Trump has taken over the GOP, but there’s less to it than meets the eye. Granted, it seems deeply insane to prefer Trump to Lincoln on any metric, but polls like this one that pit current pols against historical figures usually reflect a strong bias towards the current guy. Partly that’s due to the fact that Americans are momentarily invested politically and even emotionally in the current guy’s fortunes. And partly it’s due to simple ignorance. We’ve all seen those man-on-the-street interviews with dopes who don’t know who the vice president is and can’t name a single Supreme Court justice. If you asked 1,000 Americans at random to describe who Abraham Lincoln was in a few sentences, how many would deliver a serviceable thumbnail biography and list of his achievements? A quarter, maybe? Another 50 percent would know, hopefully, that he freed the slaves although not much else. The last quarter would be in the category of having to guess which century he was president in.
So ask a group of Republicans to choose between a candidate whom they voted for and whose decisions are influencing their lives right this minute versus a figure whom they know is widely regarded as great but the specifics of which many are hazy on and yeah, you’re going to get a tighter result than you might expect. Then add in the weird cultish X factor among some righties of feeling that they need to take Trump’s side in any dispute and here’s what you get: