But giving Trump a single ideological score based on economic and social positions may conceal as much as it reveals. For one, if Trump seeks to deport all immigrants who are here illegally, but at the same time tries to preserve Social Security, would the “moderate” label really apply? What if he supported a massive investment in the nation’s infrastructure while gutting regulations of Wall Street? There’s also no left-right category for bigoted, misogynistic or racist statements. In early September, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of Americans thought Trump was “biased” against women and minorities. In late August, YouGov asked voters whether Trump was a bigot — 47 percent said he was; 36 percent said he wasn’t. Fifty-one percent said Trump was a racist. Only 35 percent said he wasn’t.
It all makes reducing Trump to one number or label counterproductive.
But if quantitative measures of ideology have trouble capturing Trumpism, so too did voters. A majority of Americans — 55 percent — said Trump was “extreme” according to a Pew Research Center poll taken in June and July. But voters in other polls rated Trump more centrist. In the lead-up to the election, Gallup asked Americans whether they saw Trump as a conservative, a moderate or a liberal, and only 47 percent saw him as conservative, while 22 percent saw him as moderate and 19 percent saw him as liberal. That last number is really high for a Republican presidential candidate. More Americans rated Trump “liberal” than they did any other incoming Republican president. That’s also higher than the share of Americans who have rated any incoming Democratic president “conservative.” In other words, voters linked Trump to an ideology usually associated with the other party at rates unprecedented in recent elections.