Intense opposition to liberal views clearly impacted the 2016 election. Ekins found that each faction within Trump’s coalition strongly disapproved of Hillary Clinton. For some this was not mere partisanship: many former Democrats who voted for Trump had reported favorable opinions of Clinton in 2012. For others their dislike of Clinton was the single largest factor behind their vote for Trump. More than half of the Free Marketeers, for example, said their vote was more against Clinton than for Trump, the only Trump faction that said this. Animus towards Democrats and their nominee was a very strong predictor of Trump support even among those who also strongly disliked Trump.
My own work confirms this. The 2016 exit poll showed that Trump won because he decisively beat Clinton among the 18% of Americans who did not like either candidate. These voters tended to be suburban, college-educated, Republican-leaning men. These “reluctant Trump voters” were undecided until the very end of the race, but ultimately decided that the devil whose policies they liked was better than the devil whose policies they didn’t.
Democrats have done nothing since Trump’s election to reduce these feelings. On issue after issue the Democratic party has moved to the left, catering to a progressive base outraged at Trump’s election and seething at how the Democratic establishment foisted a fatally flawed candidate upon them. The latest progressive cause célèbre is for eliminating America’s border enforcement agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice). One can be outraged at how Trump is enforcing America’s immigration laws without thinking that eliminating all border enforcement is a good idea. An idea like this keeps Republicans united in their support for Trump as it clearly shows how unacceptable the alternative is.
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