What does this tell us? For one thing, it suggests that red-state audiences care far more about social issues than they do about GDP statistics or paeans to unprecedented stock market growth Trump spend much of the night singing. They are happy to clap along when he tells them that they’ve never had it so good because their 401(k)s, assuming they have them, are through the roof, but that doesn’t mean they believe it.
If this really is the case and Trump cannot convince the GOP base that his economic policies alone have earned him their support, how is he going to fare with the thousands of moderate voters scattered across the post-industrial Midwest and Pennsylvania he needs to win again in 2020? The social issues script probably isn’t going to work. The optimism one certainly won’t. Sooner or later Trump is going to have to acknowledge that his agenda — on trade, infrastructure, immigration, and many other issues — has been more or less effectively thwarted by congressional Democrats. And he’s going to have to get mad about it.
This is the downside to winning the White House as a prophet of doom. You don’t get to keep it by being John Denver.