Blunders, secrets and bad press have snowballed into a mess of disorder and the apparent crumbling of President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump’s staff members are resigning, being forced out of the White House or being fired by the president. The departures are so numerous that The New York Times article, “The Turnover at the Top of the Trump Administration is Unprecedented”, published a whopping 27 significant losses over the course of 2018.
In addition to the departures, many government workers around the country have suffered from Trump’s shutdown. From all logical perspectives, these are signs that something isn’t working right, especially in the wake of the unnecessary 35-day shutdown. So why would Trump still have a chance at reelection? Is it even a possibility?
As America saw in the 2016 election, Trump made it clear he wasn’t going to be a traditional candidate. He burst upon the political scene with his brash speech, bashing political figures and insisting he came from humble roots to present himself as an outsider to the voters. His behavior caught the eye of the nation as he interrupted what many thought politicians should be.
America now sees these tactics drew forth a population who felt isolated by the last progressive administrations. These dissatisfied groups fell into the base support of Trump, as a knee-jerk reaction to those who had felt the country was becoming too progressive. These groups presented a strangely defensive mass of people who were staunchly against anything that suggested Trump wasn’t fit to be president — mainly his misogynistic and racist views, and his blatant disregard for political tradition.
When questioned on his rough speech and controversial topics, Trump’s base support often countered with things like, ‘he’s not like normal politicians,’ or, ‘he speaks what he’s thinking,’ as if this excused any offense.
Trump appealed to this group of voters through his refusal to act like the starch-pressed politicians of today. At first, Trump’s behaviors revived and excited voters, making them believe that a man similar to themselves would lead our country. Trump promised the American people his time in office would be dedicated solely to the people.
However, after two rocky years in office, a disappointing midterm election and an upsetting shutdown, where does Trump stand with the American people as a whole? A Gallup poll from late January shows voters are unhappy with the way Trump is running things; with his approval rating at 37 percent.
These numbers aren’t entirely out of the ordinary, but they drop below his term average, which another Gallup poll declares is 39 percent. There are countless reasons as to why the numbers are so low — the shutdown, investigation into Russian collusion, disregard of family separation on the border, support of radical right-wing activists, nomination of Brett Kavanaugh … to name a few.
From this, many could argue any past president would have difficulty getting reelected. But for Trump? The rules don’t apply, as seen through the past two years.
Despite the major scandals that followed Trump through his presidency, including the Stormy Daniels allegations, vulgar soundbites from Trump on women and Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump manages to squeeze by with pretty consistent ratings. Part of this can be attributed to his ever-loyal base population, and his constant barrage of nonsense tweets or odd behaviors which have desensitized many people to news about this President.
Trump’s base remains strong in its support, a Gallup poll from Jan. 21-27 detailed that, among those who identify as Republicans, Trump maintains an 88 percent approval rating. These numbers display how many still have faith in Trump after the shutdown when many middle-class workers went without pay, clearly showing the president’s disregard for the people’s welfare. One might expect to see a drop in the numbers and expect even loyal followers to abandon him, but there remains a solid foundation of people he connected with during 2016.
As mistrust and dislike of Trump increases in some groups, defensiveness and isolation increases in Trump supporters. If his supporters felt attacked before, then they surely feel under constant fire now. So what do they do but promote him even more? They feel even more pride in their political standing, because they are so separated and ostracized by the rest of the population?
The brewing of a severe in-group out-group collision doesn’t bode well for the United States and could assure Trump’s victory for a second time around. A poll from the Washington Post-NBC News dated Jan. 21 show 58 percent of people said they won’t vote for Trump in the 2020 election, whereas about 28 percent say they will.
The same Washington Post-NBC poll that showed only 28 percent of people saying they plan to vote for Trump in 2020 also shows, among Republicans, 70 percent would definitely vote for him, whereas only 14 percent say they definitely won’t vote for him.
This is a dramatic difference between numbers attributed to the general population, and allows a glimpse into what makes a second Trump term possible — polarization. Those die-hard Trump fans declare themselves Republicans and consolidate to party labels, and those who disagree with their ideals flee to the opposite side.
Continuous fighting only leads to further isolation of both groups, meaning each becomes more passionate and defensive.
Now, these numbers should end the conversation — of course he can’t win with this sort of support. Not even half the country is in his favor. But if the world learned anything from the 2016 election, it’s that polls can be unreliable, people are volatile and politics change.
Trump doesn’t entirely care about those he’s offending or those he’s losing, he cares about catering to his followers. We still have a long way off until the next election; things can change. Things will change. If you follow the patterns of Trump’s core supporters, they’ll pull out any show of loyalty, any outrageous act to attract like-to-like and, possibly, win him a second term.