The same could be said for “Republican” voters. Do they really represent the party, or are they The Coalition of the Incoherent? Like the president himself, they have no political compass, no policy preferences, and no attachment to anything that cannot be expressed in a bumper sticker. Indeed, what seems to unite Trump voters is a generic hostility to immigrants and a demand that government resources and transfers not be shrunk but redirected — to themselves.

Many of them, of course, actually voted for Back Obama. (If these Obama-to-Trump voters are “Republicans,” then the term has no meaning at all.) I have argued that these voters are better understood not as “Republicans,” but more generally as “white welfare-statists” whose party affiliation is up for bids every four years.

I’m also taking a gamble based on history. Populism looks powerful from the outside, but it rarely succeeds in holding power. It is not a belief but a reflex, one that fades away once the hard work of governing looms. It’s a great vessel for expressing anger. It’s not very good at keeping the lights on and delivering the mail.