Just Get Them To The Polls…

These days, good news is rare, so a recent article in The Atlantic-one of my favorite publications–brightened my entire week.

It appears that Trump has “reshaped” American public opinion, but not in the way I  feared he would.

Recent polling shows that Donald Trump has managed to reshape American attitudes to a remarkable extent on a trio of his key issues—race, immigration, and trade.

There’s just one catch: The public is turning against Trump’s views.

The article noted Trump’s increasingly obvious racism, characterizing it as a strategic effort to firm up his base. (I’m less inclined to apply the word “strategy” to anything Trump does–I think as he gets more and more out of his depth, he becomes more unhinged and his true “character” emerges…) Whatever the impetus, however, instinctive or strategic, it isn’t working.

Quite the opposite, if survey research is to be believed.

The Reuters analysis also found that Americans were less likely to express feelings of racial anxiety this year, and they were more likely to empathize with African Americans. This was also true for white Americans and whites without a college degree, who largely backed Trump in 2016.

Among the details, the number of whites who say “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage” has sunk nine points since last August. The percentages of whites, and white Republicans, who strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country” have each dropped by roughly 25 points from the same time two years ago.

The article reports that there has been a 10 percent drop in the number of Americans who espouse white identity politics since Trump entered office, and that Trump’s increasingly explicit racist rhetoric turns off voters who may express some degree of racial anxiety, but who aren’t classical bigots.

The article also notes that Trump has radicalized Democrats, especially white Democrats. By several measures, they have become more liberal on race –on some measures, more liberal than Democrats of color.

Reuters found that more Democrats say blacks are treated unfairly at work and by the police than in 2016—remarkable given how coverage of police violence toward African Americans has dropped in the past few years—while Republican attitudes have remained unchanged.

When it comes to immigration, which the article calls “Trump’s signature issue” (and which is clearly race-based),

Reuters found that white Americans are 19 percent more supportive of a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants than they were four years ago, and slightly less supportive of increased deportations. Other polls find related results. A record-high number of Americans—75 percent—said in 2018 that immigration is good for the United States. Although the Trump administration took steps last week to limit even legal immigration, the Trump presidency has seen an increase in the number of Americans who support more legal immigration—not just among Democrats, but even slightly among Republicans.

Ironically, as the article reports, although Trump has managed to force a national conversation around the issue of immigration, rather than bringing more people to his anti-immigrant views, he has convinced them he’s wrong.

And it isn’t simply his bigotry. His obvious ignorance on issues of economics and trade has also moved public opinion.

One big problem for Trump is that voters have now gotten a chance to see him implement ideas that seemed novel or at least worth a shot during the campaign, and they don’t like what they’re seeing in practice. A trade war with China might have seemed worthwhile in summer 2016, but now that there’s actually one being fought, the public is having second thoughts, and fears of a recession are growing. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday found that 64 percent of Americans think free trade is good, up from 57 in 2017, 55 in 2016, and 51 in 2015. Meanwhile, the percentage who say free trade is bad has dropped 10 points since 2017.

As reassuring as these results are, they won’t mean diddly-squat unless the people who hold anti-Trump opinions go to the polls in 2020. As I have insisted ad nauseam, the name of the electoral game is turnout, and in 2020 that is truer than ever.

Fortunately, the Atlantic article even had some encouragement on that score.

Raw polling can, admittedly, be somewhat misleading on its own. Progressives have for years lamented the gap between the fairly liberal policies that the public says it favors and those that its elected representatives actually pursue. One reason for that is not everyone votes, and those who don’t vote tend toward the left.

But the Reuters poll offers reason to believe that the shifts it documents are directly relevant to the coming election. The poll found that “people who rejected racial stereotypes were more interested in voting in the 2020 general election than those who expressed stronger levels of anti-black or anti-Hispanic biases.” That wasn’t the case in 2016, when Americans who held strong antiblack views were more politically engaged.

Again, I repeat: we shouldn’t waste time talking to voters in Trump’s base. Anyone who still supports him is clearly beyond reason. Instead, we need to get every non-racist, non-crazy person who cares about this country–especially those who took a pass in 2016– to the polls!

America’s future depends on turnout.


  1. I would agree it would be a total waste of time trying to convince a Trumpter to switch sides. The rhetoric of President Agent Orange becomes more extreme each day. The evangelical bible thumper’s believe in President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence. No logic or rational discussion will persuade the evangelical bible thumper’s, since they lack the skill of critical thinking.

    Interesting article in today’s Guardian:
    “The 2020 US presidential election is going to be about native entitlement. It’s going to be about race and immigration and deportation and Israel and every other wedge issue Donald Trump can summon to split the vote into “us” and “them”. He will become Chief Native, swelling his supporters sense of dominion over others less white. The campaign has already started; his social media presence has gone from ungainly swiping to a more coherent regular punching. He has in effect launched a cyber-bullying offensive.”

    “Trump’s entire political strategy has become reduced to identity politics not only because he is incapable of anything more sophisticated, but also because it gets results. ”

    No matter how incoherent President Agent Orange’s message becomes, Pastor Pence will stand behind him with a robotic smile.

  2. “And it isn’t simply his bigotry. His obvious ignorance on issues of economics and trade has also moved public opinion.”

    The Republican party was even more aware of Trump’s past “ignorance on issues of economics” than the general public who watched his bankruptcies through 40 years and his “comebacks” using more of the Trump family money to restart. This country does not have “family money” to dig into to restart. His womanizing and multiple marriages and non-payment of millions to those who worked for him was also known to the Republicans and the public. His lack of morals and inability to tell the truth coupled with his racism, bigotry and now his blatant anti-Semitism continues to “move public opinion” as we watch his supporters go along with the Republican party who are too cowardly to “speak the truth and shame the devil” they put before the public or their actual support of his total lack of ability to lead anyone anywhere. Their control over the Electoral College assured them the appointment, if not the popular election, in 2016 to the most powerful position in the world and we are watching as the world economy shakes due to his personal tariff war. We will never know the truth of what went on this past weekend in France at the G7 gathering but the results will soon be evident.

    Who will we get to the polls in November 2019 and again in 2020? What is in store for this country in the coming week resulting from what we don’t know about the G7 meeting with Trump’s clone, Boris Johnson, and a surprise visitor from Iran? His racism pales against the possibility of a collapse of the world economy because economic collapse doesn’t recognize race…or religion.

    “America’s future depends on turnout.”

  3. Regarding immigration “policy”: Trump + Stephen Miller = Nazi horrors revisited.
    Regarding economics: Trump and McConnell have fear-shamed Republicans to abandon their long-standing philosophy of small government and limited spending.
    Regarding Republicans: Trump has them so frightened of him tweeting badly about the Congressional Republicans because they’re afraid of being primaries by someone even worse and less principled and losing their seats. THAT is why they go along with Trump. It’s pitiful.

    It’s good to see that more people are seeing the light and moving away from fascism and hate masquerading as government. Of course, there’s no saving the 5th Avenue crowd. They’re all in and will happy go over the cliff for Trump because they are him and he is them. Pathetic.

  4. An Article on recent history:
    Black voter turnout fell in 2016, even as a record number of Americans cast ballots.

    The black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% in 2012.

    The voter turnout rate increased among Millennials and those in Generation X. Millennials (those ages 20 to 35 in 2016) had a 50.8% voter turnout rate in 2016, up from 46.4% in 2012 when they were ages 18 to 31. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/12/black-voter-turnout-fell-in-2016-even-as-a-record-number-of-americans-cast-ballots/

    As I have written here before, the Democrats can not run on just some anti-President Agent Orange theme. The Democrats must have a Progressive platform that addresses the issues from top to bottom. Participation in the electoral process must be stimulated and not taken for granted. I do not see Corporate Joe Biden stimulating turnout, beyond the anti- President Agent Orange group.

  5. trump has no stratagy, hes only the puppet to the republican party,the bilkion-aires,sign here,and try and shut up for a few seconds.. though he manages to,throw in his personal opinions,and waht he can do,without congress,(WSJ did him right)many now see what a jerk in real life he,and many of his rich buddies are,which in turn has shown a side of money, that has its own crap. imagine dealing with a producer who,has you sign a contract to be on stage with this asshole,and it for your publicity? how many have dropped out of,or,now realize the mistakes made by others in the public eye,when being even within eye shot of this asshole… either way alot of,people have now looked around themselves and realize,who they are in the middle,of,when everyday life is around them. many people of color and lifestyles,seem to be getting alot of air time now,if not just commercials,but ads,and many markets. many have just come to realize,the very people they deal with,are,above them..i dont believe dumps so called base,has a prayer in hell next november,but ill be fully aware where hilary went,and the demo party,led us too…
    go Bernie,Liz,your time has come,and its long overdo. this is not a moment of change,this was in the works back when reagan ran.so quit the ideas that this is a fluke also.. grow up America,it time we reevaluate what we are,and who we are,and take it to the streets again.

  6. My biggest concern is that the republicans running trump’s campaign will reinvigorate the anti-abortionists (who claim to be pro-life).

    A few days ago I saw a comment on a friend’s FB post about all of the damages trump has caused to our country. She agreed that he is terrible and is damaging our economy, our national reputation with other countries, our environment, etc., but she said that she will continue to support him because he has placed far right judges on the supreme court and other courts who are ruling against abortion.

    Her ONLY concern is that abortion becomes completely illegal. The damages that he and his cabinet have done to our country, our environment and everything else were far outweighed by her desire to save the unborn. This is how insane the anti-abortionists are. If saving those unborn babies means having a president who destroys the world that they are born into, she seems completely incapable of comprehending that. Of course, people like her could not care less about taking care of the already born babies and young children who may be starving or need clothing or a safe home or anything else that they need for their survival. If they are already born then they can just suffer and die.

    Those tiny minded religious extremists in this country are immensely dangerous.

  7. As I have written many times, after all the electoral pleading and screaming is over, it comes down to arithmetic, as in, who brought the most people to the polls? We are some distance from that point in time and are in the choosing of candidates and organization phase of things, but when that time comes it is absolutely crucial that we bring bodies to the polls. There is no substitute for winning, which comes only with a majority body count on that Tuesday, one I hope is overwhelming in order to beat the gerrymander and voter suppression negatives.

    If we produce, and I hope and think we will, we will send Trump (or whoever the Republican candidate is if Trump is impeached and convicted or becomes otherwise unavailable during the interim) back to New York (or to oversee construction of his new hotel in Moscow), and talk about good riddance!

    This man, who represented the United States of America at the G-7 this past weekend in France, was the only non-attender at the Climate Crisis meeting (while Siberia, the Amazon, and Alaska are burning), which tells us all we need to know about his concern for, literally, our survival. It is clear that he is so self-absorbed that he cannot think or act in a representative capacity. Given such a situation wherein our representative cannot represent us, it becomes absolutely necessary that he be removed from any pretense that he is, in fact, representing anything or anybody but himself. Choose, organize, and turnout, turnout, and more turnout. Not only we but possibly the world depends upon such effort. Nye was right – we’re burning.

  8. While it is tempting for people with a modicum of morality to see Trump as self-destructive, it is unwise and dangerous, and may be irrelevant. If America lovers rally as they did in the 2018 congressional election, we can send the Ignoramus in Chief back to his tower to lick his wounds (although it is by no means clear that he will accept defeat or what we do about it if he doesn’t). But unless Democrats win both houses of Congress, we will almost certainly return to the status quo ante, 2008 – 20016, during which Mitch McConnell was in charge of what got done in Washington. His goal – and he is a master at achieving it – is to prove that government can’t work for the people and Democrats can’t govern. Where you and I see “Trump” as the most despicable word in the English language, he sees “compromise” in the same light. His soul belongs to Putin, and he is as self-serving as his current master.

    What all of this means is that if we can’t win the Senate, we can’t undo the countless crimes that Trump has committed against the America people, and any victory will be Pyrrhic. So once again Sheila nailed it: If we are able to crack the code in getting out the vote, democracy may have a chance. Otherwise, Mitch remains in charge. Can America survive four more years of marching in place?

  9. Nancy – I, too, understand what you are saying about the anti-abortionist voter. I’m catholic and many of my friends and members of my parish are “one issue voters.” I’m at a loss to understand that they don’t view other issues as pro-life. The president’s refusal to act on climate change, thus jeopardizing the lives of our children and grandchildren and many around the world. The president’s refusal to implement any gun control legislation. The president’s refusal to support third world countries, “global gag rule” which supplied education, contraceptives, etc. Don’t they realize this will result in more abortions.

    They overlook his constant lies and immorality.

  10. Thank you Sheila. You are so right. I’d add one thing – VOTER REGISTRATION and turnout are everything.

  11. Linda – thanks for your comment.

    Since I don’t personally know any local Catholics (I live in a very rural area) could you give me some idea of how your friends and family came to focus mainly on the abortion issue? I understand that the Pope, and Catholicism in general, is against abortion, but is this belief repeatedly drilled into their minds at Sunday services and other Catholic gatherings in a manner that constantly brings it to the political forefront?

    Thankfully, you can see the bigger picture that includes so many helpless children who are forgotten and tossed aside after they are born. I would really appreciate it if you could help me to understand why many in the Catholic religion choose to forget the living while focusing on the unborn.

  12. Nancy – Thank you for your questions and your desire to understand this dilemma. Unfortunately, I can’t understand how the abortion issue has taken over so many Catholics as their main concern. I can tell you that not all parishes stress this issue nor preach it from the pulpit. It seems to garnish more importance with the more conservative members of our faith. In discussions about abortion with friends, they just express that if we are willing to murder the unborn baby, what else matters…. They quote Mother Teresa, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
    Though Pope Francis stated, “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.” Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize many conservative Catholics don’t like Pope Francis.
    The reversal of Roe v. Wade is the main focus and seeing that through is their main objective, no matter what the cost. I believe it has come to the political forefront now that we have a Republican holding the highest office in the land. Though trump is no more “pro-life” than the man in the moon.
    Gratefully, there are many, many Catholics who have similar beliefs and fight for social justice.

  13. The parish where my spouse attends Mass includes prayers every week that exhort the congregants to pray for the unborn in any number of subtle and not so subtle ways. It is constant and almost never addresses the issue of the mother’s health, the circumstances of the pregnancy or the quality of life of the child once it is born.

    There is a hard core of mostly older adult parishioners, white male or never married females, who are the most activist. They don’t like Francis and want him to “do something” to change things (become more exclusionary).

    Yes, there are younger parishioners who are activists as well. But, I doubt if many of them, if they are or ever have been married, had a sexual partner or ever risked unmarried sex, opt out of contraception of any kind. It is hypocritical to preach abstinence only, or sex for procreation only, as the most conservative Catholics do, all while living a completely different private life where avoiding pregnancy is central to their sex lives.

    We add 85M people to the world every year. How is that sustainable on any level? One issue voters are wearing blinders and have not considered the quality of life for those many unborn children they want to bring into the already overcrowded world. Starvation and disease are the likely outcome for way too many of them. I guess as long as they don’t have to see, hear or interact with them, it is not of their concern. How wrong they are.

  14. Linda, thanks so much for your response. At least it is encouraging to know that you and other Catholics are more compassionate people.

    JD, thanks for your input about your spouse’s parish.

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