The lesson many Republicans have taken away from their treatment by the media and prominent Democrats over the past two decades is that they— conservatives, gun owners, Tea Party supporters, Evangelical Christians—are always going to be portrayed as the bad guys. Always.
They watched John McCain, the Democrats’ favorite Republican, attacked as a racist during the 2008 campaign against Barack Obama. They saw Mitt Romney, the world’s biggest Boy Scout, berated as a money-grubbing sexist who counted his money as employees’ family members died of cancer.
Conservatives are called racists for supporting immigration law, haters for defending their faith’s long-standing views on sexuality and marriage, “deplorables” for not supporting President Obama’s political agenda—and then they’ve waited (largely in vain) to see anything resembling similar treatment of politicians and pundits of the Left.
In 2016, many Republicans decided that, if they’re going to get called bigots and haters anyway, why not back a politician who would at least fight back on their behalf.