Just about everyone sitting around the panel tables on cable news outlets (except Fox, of course) and the stable of reporters from most of the major papers can all agree on one thing these days. President Donald Trump is in big trouble. He’s constantly awash in scandals, his cabinet members and White House staffers are being changed out faster than most people go through socks. He’s always only a few steps ahead of the Next Big Scandal which will surely bring him down. And that Russia, Russia, Russia investigation has to turn up something one of these days, right? So the voters who put him in office must finally be developing a serious case of buyer’s remorse.
But at least when it comes to a majority of the people who actually voted for Trump, that doesn’t seem to be the case. His approval ratings are still nothing to write home about, but he’s actually been making some slow progress in an upward direction. How is that possible, given the 24/7 marathon of pundits and news anchors setting their hair on fire and telling the nation what a horrible person the President is and how he’s going to destroy the world any day now? At the Boston Globe, Diane Hessan has been conducting interviews and surveys with a large number of both pro and anti-Trump voters and provides the details of her results. It turns out that many Trump voters aren’t particularly wild about some of his comments, tweets and reported stories of alleged infidelities, but given the alternative, they’re still satisfied with their vote.
While progressives focus on the Robert Mueller Russia investigation, the constant churn in White House staff, tariffs that seem to be backfiring, and the president’s unwillingness to read his notes prior to a phone call with Vladmir Putin, all is well — mostly — in Trumpland.
In my ongoing research with 450 voters from across the political spectrum, 225 voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Despite the drama and chaos surrounding our president, over 90 percent of those who voted for him tell me that they have no regrets about their choice. To them, hope and change is finally here: a president whose outrage matches theirs, who is committed daily to focusing on their key issues, and who is moving at record speed. Says Theresa from Virginia, “The establishment is turning out to be the Titanic — and the rogue captain is off on a speedboat.”
For most of these Trump voters, it all comes down to the Dow Jones, unemployment rates, and consumer confidence. If they’re spending any of their day listening to Joe Scarborough or Chris Cuomo talk about the various evils of Donald Trump, they’re not letting it affect them. One voter was particularly peeved with Nancy Pelosi and her comments about crumbs, saying, “I would like Pelosi to take a look at my paycheck. Maybe an extra $252 every month isn’t much to her or to the liberal elites, but to me, it has been life-changing.”
And they’re quick to remind you that if things had gone the other way we’d be dealing with the fallout of a Hillary Clinton presidency right now. Their observations about what the Democratic Party stands for right now aren’t particularly flattering either.
When I ask Trump supporters about the Democrats, most no longer know what the party stands for. Some see a party that doesn’t represent them: They believe that the Democrats cater to the very rich (“celebrities, football players, and Ivy Leaguers”) or the very poor — but not to them. Or, they observe a party obsessed with racial and gender issues above all else. Phil, from Florida, responded by sending me a comic strip, showing a TV announcer: “Tonight we skip the tremendous growing economy and go straight to a bad word Trump said.”
There’s only so much effect the media can have, it seems. True, the storm of negative spin about the President has sunk in and he’s probably got a ceiling on his approval numbers that’s barely 50%. But he also appears to have a floor representing people who aren’t wild about the antics of the actual person in the Oval Office sometimes, but who like the results they’re getting. And they certainly don’t think a blind leap toward the only viable alternative (the Democrats) is any great shakes either.
The bottom line from all of these interviews? Apparently results matter. And the results people care about most are in areas that receive very little media attention.