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Columns

The Left's Contempt Is Going to Reelect Trump

July 5, 2018 - 7:00am

Democrats have a new theory for how they can win back Congress and the White House. Just like "soccer moms" helped put Bill Clinton in the Oval Office in 1996, and "NASCAR dads" helped George W. Bush win in 2004, Donald Trump, the theory goes, was elected because of "#NeverHillary" voters who didn't particularly like him but despised her. Axios reports that Democrats are targeting the "20% of Trump's voters [who] told exit pollsters they didn't like him" hoping these reluctant Trump voters will help power a "blue wave" in the 2018 midterms and defeat President Trump in 2020.

One problem with that theory: The left's nonstop, over-the-top attacks on Trump are not peeling those voters away from him; they are pushing them further into the president's camp.

In recent weeks, Trump derangement syndrome on the left has reached critical mass. First, there was Robert De Niro's "f -- Trump" tirade at the Tony awards, followed by Samantha Bee's calling Ivanka Trump a "feckless c -- " on her TV show. Then the owners of the Red Hen restaurant threw out White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders because she works for the president, while chanting protesters heckled Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., added fuel to the fire by openly calling on mobs of left-wing activists to "absolutely harass" Trump officials. Then, there were the countless Trump opponents in the media, Congress and on Twitter who compared family separations at the southern border with Nazi Germany, and the Time magazine cover depicting Trump staring down heartlessly at a crying migrant girl and implying she was separated from her mother (until it emerged that she had not in fact been separated from her mother). And now come the threats to block Trump's Supreme Court nominee before he has even nominated one.

How do liberals think that 20 percent of reluctant Trump voters respond to these displays of unbridled contempt? They are outraged not at Trump but at his critics. The unhinged hatred for the president makes these voters almost reflexively defend him.

Don't take my word for it. The New York Times recently interviewed dozens of tepid Trump voters who explained how the incessant attacks are causing them to rally around the president. "Gina Anders knows the feeling well by now," the Times reports. "President Trump says or does something that triggers a spasm of outrage. She doesn't necessarily agree with how he handled the situation. She gets why people are upset."

But Anders, who the Times says has "not a stitch of 'Make America Great Again' gear in her wardrobe, is moved to defend him anyway." When she hears the "overblown" attacks on Trump, she says, "It makes me angry at them, which causes me to want to defend him to them more." Another reluctant Trump voter, Tony Schrantz, agrees. "He's not a perfect guy; he does some stupid stuff," he tells the Times. "But when they're hounding him all the time it just gets old."

These are exactly the voters Democrats are hoping to win back. Instead, they are doing the opposite. Polls bear this out.

Two weeks ago, Trump's Gallup approval rating hit 45 percent -- the highest it has been since his inauguration. (It slipped slightly to 41 percent last week). Trump's approval among Republicans is at a near-record 87 percent, comparable to the levels of support for George W. Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Think about that: The left's attacks on Trump have had the same rallying effect for GOP voters as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

So, if appeals to civility, decency and conscience won't work, then perhaps an appeal to base political pragmatism will. Democrats are deluding themselves if they think they lost because of "#NeverHillary" voters who will come home when she is not on the ballot. They lost because they have become a party of coastal liberal elites who have lost touch with millions of ordinary citizens in Middle America -- working-class voters who are struggling with factories closing, jobs leaving and an opioid epidemic that is destroying their families. These voters concluded in 2016 that Democrats no longer care about their problems and that Trump does.

Spasms of anti-Trump outrage are not going to win them back. If anything, they are confirming these voters' conclusions that Democrats still don't get it -- and don't get them. The left's miasma of contempt may feel cathartic, but it is the best thing that ever happened to Trump. Indeed, it may very well get him reelected.

Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group

Comments

He got one vote from me. He will go down in history with George Wallace, Huey Long and Joe McCarthy...if history survives him. Mr. Marc, he wont get a second vote from me, I'm centrist despite my idiotic comments posted here. The man is dangerous. No wonder Rick Scott was leading his campaign in Florida. Two peas in a rotting pod.

much ado about nothing...super nerd is a Trump fan...

Hello leftist whiney diaper babies!!! Remenber how positive you ALL were your dirty granny Hildabeast was gonna win? Right up to 10:00 pm on the East Coast? Remember how you cried? Sure you do. Midterms are gonna be a repeat just like your fav NetFlix you already watched. Whiney diaper babies...you know who you are!!!!!!

yeah, like your Mom...

wishful thinking I suspect...

Tell us something we DON'T know,...or aren't already aware of Marc...

I wouldn't believe anything out of George Will's mouth!!!

You're right ... and anybody from around the NYC area going back to the '70s knows exactly that about Trump and his activities ... which is why he was clearly viewed as a super-jerk by so many people throughout that area at that time. He's been as you've described for more than 40 years ... which is why there's so much antipathy towards him today throughout the northeast.

My post above was directed to the "Robert Warner" post at the bottom of the page. Apparently, I didn't use the "Reply" button as I should have. (?)

The "contempt" voiced against Trump and his incompetents has NOTHING to do with "peeling away" his followers! It's sole purpose is to motivate Democrats to participate and to vote. Trump is already a minority president by nearly 3,000,000 popular votes ... and there are more registered Democrats than Republicans throughout the country ... but, unfortunately, Democrats don't vote as reliably as do Republicans ... so ... like Trump does in his rallies ... the point of the Democratic contempt towards Trump is simply to rile-up, agitate, and incite Democrats to vote. If they do ... IF ... the Trumpnuts definitely lose. As usual, Thiessen has it wrong.

It is a nice rallying cry, but hardly indicative of the public opinion of Trump in general. The guy is dirty, and negativity and filth follow him like the smell of a land fill... Throw in the fact, that most of the crap that he promised just hasn't materialized. He is a cheap used car salesman with an even cheaper look and bravado. The tough guy act is even worse for a guy that cowardly got several deferments to avoid serving his country for "bone spurs". This is who he is, except for the throngs of reality TV idiots and those looking for something better that just isn't there. The sad attacks on Mueller to try to deflect from the likely campaign law violations make him look even worse. Just like Gowdy said, he is definitely acting like someone who is guilty, even if he isn't, which I highly doubt. There is just way too much smoke there...

Yuck, yuck, yuck! I LOVE it! "The guy is dirty, and negativity and filth follow him like the smell of a land fill... " On the mark!

Oh Robert’s following Clinton’s example and calling POTUS supporters nasty names. The ground swell is the disgust people have with that tactic and the violence it brings. The cathartic experience will come in November, just as it did in 1968

It is what it is, Charlotte. My comment stands on it's own two feet. We all shall now be known why those with whom we choose to associate.

Mark - It might just be your use of "labels" forgets that real conservatives have finally realized that Trump is a common Russian Oligarch, thug, and real and present danger to American national security. His acolytes are essentially "cultists". That's why there is a ground swell of those now formally leaving the GOP and turning "independent". See George Will and Max Boot for examples. Today's "cathartic" moment...

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