According to recently released poll numbers, President Trump seems to have retained much of the base that swept him into the Oval Office. An astonishing 88 percent of those who originally backed Trump during his campaign approve of his current job performance, and 91 percent of his original supporters still have a favorable view of him.
This is a man who threw together a crackerjack team of unqualified bigots for his cabinet, possibly colluded with Russian officials to interfere with a presidential election, used his executive authority to inflict harm on countless refugees and immigrants, reinstated the anti-abortion global gag rule, and set in motion the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.
The Marist-McClatchy poll also broke out white evangelical registered voters for multiple categories and found that 70 percent of them either strongly agree or agree that “President Trump is a good leader for the nation,” and that 60 percent of them believe Trump’s work is uniting the country. In addition, a majority of white evangelicals agree with how he’s handling terrorism (a separate Pew poll showing most of them agree with his travel ban), approve of how he’s handling the economy, and either strongly agree or agree that he is honest and trustworthy.
The one thing everyone seemed to agree on across the board (71 percent overall, across all demographics) is that Donald Trump is fulfilling his campaign promises and doing exactly what he said he would do.
When Trump was on the campaign trail a little over a year ago and his possible presidency was just a gleam in the eye of the “alt-right,” he said during a rally in Iowa that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
I thought at the time that it was a very weird way for a presidential candidate to describe his supporters, but the following months proved his understanding of his base to be deadly accurate. Through every cringe-worthy gaffe, every “alternative fact” and sordid revelation, his followers—especially white evangelicals—remained faithful. Nothing could stop Trump… not even Trump, it seemed.
Now we’re four months past the day he was elected, well into Season 1 of the worst reality show in existence, and it looks like white evangelicals are still dancing (probably off-beat) with the one that brung ’em. Though I wasn’t exactly astonished when 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, it has been alarming witnessing the steadfastness with which this pivotal base has been holding on to their president.
I thought soon after November 8, after they awakened from their nationalist fever dream, white evangelicals would recognize they had been the victims of a tremendous hoodwink, dog-whistled into voting against their self-interest. The amusing Twitter account Trump Regrets, which chronicles Trump supporters’ gradual disillusionment with their hero and has had plenty of fodder since the election, gave me a modicum of hope that a sea change was happening.
— GraceC_9 (@GraceC_9) March 9, 2017
— SharonLynnWalls (@sofiepearl61) March 9, 2017
— Debbie (@PoshPlunder) February 8, 2017
Though the all-caps invectives provide a healthy dose of schadenfreude, there seems to be a doubling down of sorts happening offline.
In a widely circulated story last month, Rev. Joel Tooley of Florida described his uneasiness at a local Trump rally he attended with his 11-year-old daughter where patriotism and religious fervor made for a frightening display of aggression and violence. He wrote that parts of the event felt “theatrical and manipulative,” and that he soon realized “we were not listening to someone presidential, we were listening to someone terribly powerful.”
If that rally was any indication, the cult of personality surrounding Trump doesn’t seem to be weakening. His disciples are not to be deterred by irrelevancies like facts or history—because #MAGA, right?
It appears that much of his base doesn’t seem to care or be paying attention to any of his actual actions. They’re too busy enjoying their slow-dance with power, who cares if it’s in a burning room?