And as ludicrous as these fragments seem out of context, watching the speech with what truly was an everyday and diverse group of people, I had the distinct impression that Trump could easily be re-elected. Recent polls had found that fully 58% of the American electorate had vowed to vote for anyone but Trump, but even with all the insanities of his speech, and the unending chaos of his first two years in office, he laid out a compelling case that night for having achieved actual results that actually mattered to his fans, both the passive and the devout. He mentioned that unemployment for Hispanic workers was at a historic low, and this is true. He mentioned that unemployment for African American workers was at an all-time low, too, and this is also true. We in the media have long seen Trump as a racist buffoon and a threat to every core democratic principle, but his supporters see him as a man who gets things done, who speaks candidly, and who has engineered an economic boom that is the envy of the world. Almost invariably, his fans acknowledge his crude way with words, and his difficulty telling the strict truth, but they consider these minor sins dwarfed by the impact of a thriving economy, the winding down of two unnecessary wars, and a tough-minded stance against China, North Korea and illegal immigration. To his supporters, even the casual ones, he has a lot to run on. And even those who are agnostic about Trump, at least here in El Paso, were conceding his successes.
“I don’t feel that he gets credit for what actually works,” Eddie Avila said. Avila was 22, and had come to the rally “just to scout it out”. He’d put on a sweater to cover his Mexican national soccer team jersey. “I didn’t want to get jumped,” he said.
Avila didn’t vote for Trump, and didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, either. But he’d been impressed with some of Trump’s progress. I asked for an example.
“Money. Work,” Avila said. “It’s amazing what he’s done to improve employment in the United States. I was working for Toys R Us and unfortunately the company closed. Not because of Trump or anything. I was stressing out, but it didn’t take me long to find a job.” He was now a supervisor at Barnes and Noble.