The New York Times has run several awful stories about Donald Trump over the last month, including an ill-conceived editorial crying about his immigration plan and his “noxious” bigotry. But they ran a piece this week about Trump’s demographic support, a topic that has been largely underserved by the polling companies. We don’t yet have a true sense of just who Donald Trump’s supporters are. There is this guessing game instead, with most pundits assuming that his 20%-30% pool of supporters is made up largely of Tea Partiers. Hard right conservatives who would probably be backing Ted Cruz if it weren’t for Trump. But if the Times is right in their analysis, the conventional wisdom may be little more than a myth:
A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that Mr. Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.
This is a fascinating take on Trump’s unexpected success, precisely because it goes against so much of what has been said in the media (both conservative and mainstream). In a way, Trump’s popularity is a mirror of Bernie Sanders’ surprising support on the left. Both are relying heavily on a cult of personality, and they are both taking up arms against their party’s establishment players. They have tapped into this vein of frustration on both sides of the political spectrum.
The Times report goes on to note that despite his statements against women, Trump leads among Republican women. His comments on God haven’t changed the fact that he leads among evangelical Christians. At every turn, he has risked turning off this demo or that demo, and yet his numbers continue to grow. “Trumpism,” says the NYT, “is an attitude, not an ideology.”
Now, you have to remember that it’s the Times. You have to dig through and dispense with obvious statements of bias meant to denigrate Trump and his supporters. That just comes with the territory.
But it’s a lot to chew on, and it tells us something about this movement that goes beyond the conservative outrage narrative. For one, there is this sense that maybe Americans are having just a little bit of fun here. It’s like we all took a good close look at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush and said, You know what, we’d actually rather just burn the whole thing to the ground than do this again. It’s a little scary, but it’s also one of the most interesting campaign developments of the last thirty years.
Trump’s campaign, the Times assures us, will eventually hit a wall. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe these politicians have finally pushed us past the breaking point. We’re ready to do something crazy if it means finally getting Washington D.C. to listen. Like, elect Donald F’ing Trump crazy.