Editor’s note: A technological error resulted in this article not being printed in its entirety in the Sept. 23 edition. The full article can be read below.
Statistics based on polls show President Donald Trump’s ratings at a stable 40-45 percent approval rating. Those numbers have not changed throughout his administration. They’re set in stone. The same can be said for the president’s disapproval ratings. Trump’s actions and words have mobilized and stabilized support against him. Whoever wins the November election, those attitudes will continue to create instability.
Whether President Trump was basking in strong economic numbers during the longest boom period in American history or suffering from unemployment numbers brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, support for him has remained constant in that narrow band.
Joe Biden, according to analyst Brownstein, has made inroads in states Trump won in 2016—Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Florida—while Trump has not made any gains in turning Clinton states red.
Currently, Trump trails Biden in the polls, but not so much that “he can’t squeeze out another narrow win in the Electoral College.” (Ronald Brownstein, 9/15/2020 “Why the Stability of the 2020 Race Promises More Volatility”, CNN).
Confirmation bias is deemed responsible for this stability. The majority of Trump supporters solely watch Fox News as the only network they trust. Biden supporters are also locked into their news sources. According to Brownstein’s research, “There is maybe 10 or 12 percent who are untethered independents…. And those folks don’t pay very much attention to what is going on, so they are not moved much by events either.”
Brownstein goes on to state: “Voters are choosing between the parties more on their views about fundamental demographic and cultural change than on their immediate financial circumstances or even their views of economic policies, such as taxes, spending and regulation.”
Researchers found that the best predictor of those who supported Trump in 2016 was that they denied that racism and sexism exist in America. This was also true of Clinton supporters, but on the opposite side—Democratic supporters ardently believed racism and sexism were serious American problems.
Because these are the issues that divide the country, Trump supporters are less likely to be swayed by a president downplaying a deadly pandemic, an economic downturn and high unemployment, or assertions and evidence of election fraud or manipulation. These trends have only increased since 2016, according to researchers.
When Pew Research recently polled voters asking them whether Whites had advantages in society that Blacks don’t, 9 of 10 Democratic voters agreed, (up from 6 in 10 in 2016), while 75 percent of Trump supporters rejected the idea, up slightly from 2016.
The same poll found that 55 percent of all registered voters say women face major blocks to getting ahead; 75 percent of Trump supporters rejected the assertion versus 80 percent of Democrats who agreed with the statement.
White conservative Christians feel especially under attack. According to Brownstein’s article, “White Christian folks really did think they were the country. So if you take that really seriously, (as) something they believed to the core of their being, then what’s becoming abundantly clear is that it is not true. But that is a fundamental piece of their self-understanding. To fight tooth and nail for something that is going to actually undermine your basic identity is not too surprising. It runs that deep.”
It’s a fact of human nature that people fight much harder to keep from losing something than those who never possessed something in the first place.
This truism is going to be played out in front of our eyes no matter who wins the November election. These deeply embedded identity issues are not going to disappear. They will only increase with time as racial and ethnic minorities increase in size and whites lose their majority status. Prepare for the decade of the 2020s to be tumultuous and unstable.
Based on Brownstein’s research, Trump may get three more terms as he has stated on several occasions. Come hell or highwater or the Constitution. That is the fear of loss that drives Trump’s opponents in this election.