Good afternoon and welcome to today’s edition of the Fitz File. This fall, there will be millions of Americans who will vote for President Trump in little more than two weeks time. What will they do when Trump is no longer in office (hopefully, this January)?
What’s remarkable about President Trump is how little his job approval ratings have fluctuated this year. According to Gallup, as of last month, Trump’s approval rating was at 42 percent. It’s hovered in the 40-something percent range for not just this year, but for almost his entire presidency.
In 2016, Trump said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York City, shoot somebody, and he wouldn’t lose any voters.
Unfortunately, it seems like he was right about one thing. This year alone, the president has failed at managing a devastating pandemic and a resulting economic crisis that has put more people out of work since the Great Depression. He became just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. He failed to stand up to Russia for putting bounties on U.S. troops abroad, and generally, America’s standing in the world is in tatters.
The old adage of presidents running for re-election is: Are you better off than you were four years ago? In just about every conventional metric, that answer is no. The health of ourselves and our loved ones is in danger. Our jobs and economic security are at risk. Our allies around the world don’t trust us.
And yet, Trump’s approval rating does not budge. Why?
My first theory is that people seldom like to admit they were wrong. Even if they personally think they made a mistake in voting for Trump four years ago, they won’t admit it, not even to themselves and certainly not to an opinion pollster calling them on the phone. This contradicts the positive national polls for Joe Biden, however, so I’m not fully convinced this is the case.
The second, I think, is that fewer people are self-identifying as members of the Republican Party during the Trump era. I’m not sure if they’re re-registering as Democrats, independents, or not engaging in politics at all, but they’ve been so turned off by Trump they no longer want to identify with the GOP. This would explain why Trump’s ratings remain high among self-identified Republicans, because as more people leave that party, the only ones who will remain are the die-hard supporters of the president. However, it doesn’t explain why Trump’s ratings have barely moved in the 40-something percent range, as that is a national metric (not a party specific one).
The third explanation, then, is that Trump’s ideology (Trumpism, if you will) is not going away. This populist, anti-globalist worldview that spews racism, xenophobia, and bigotry will still have millions of followers regardless of whether Trump is in the Oval Office or not. What will these millions of people do without Trump as their leader?
Maybe they will rally around a new leader, or split entirely from the GOP and form a different party. Some say they will take up arms if Trump loses.
Trump’s approval ratings show that Trumpism itself will not magically go away when Trump does. And that is gravely concerning for the future of the republic.
Days Until Election Day: 16
This Week’s WTF Moment in Congress
The Senate Judiciary Committee held the confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court last week (despite multiple members of the committee testing positive for COVID-19). Judge Barrett’s entire testimony and response to questions from senators might as well have been: “I plead the fifth.”
The energy and enthusiasm for Democrats is palpable at all levels of the ballot – which is critically important for redistricting as state legislatures re-draw the congressional maps every 10 years, making this election a great chance to level the political playing field.