Just how far will Republicans go for Trump?

Still, a dynamic more fundamental to Trump’s rise may be most responsible for his solid backing among Republicans: From the outset of his campaign for the GOP nomination, Trump has generated ardent support from the voters who feel most threatened by the demographic, cultural, and economic changes remaking America—what I’ve called the “coalition of restoration.”

Like other analysts, Pete Wehner, a former top official in the George W. Bush White House and a leading conservative critic of Trump, thinks those anxieties largely explain why so many Republican voters believe Trump “has to be defended at all costs.” For Americans uneasy with these changes, “their feeling is that Donald Trump is willing to fight for them and to destroy an enemy that they hate and that they believe hates them,” said Wehner, now a senior fellow at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center (and a contributing writer at The Atlantic). “They believe this is an existential moral and political moment, and that if the left wins, so much of what they love and care for will be destroyed.

“They believe that Donald Trump is all that stands between them and darkness,” Wehner added, “and therefore they have to stand with him.”