Originally published with The New Americana.
Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States. But which Americans does he really care about? If you think it’s his super-duper-hardcore-die-hard supporters, I contest that you are 100% wrong.
Don’t misunderstand — I’m sure he likes them well enough, he’s probably grateful to them, and in a way he relies on them to give him a good public image when he gives rallies and such, but that’s not what I’m talking about. When Donald Trump is trying to decide what to do and whom to please, his adoring fans are NOT his target audience. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Trump isn’t worried about how a majority of his voters feel about him — even a majority of the country.
Now how can that be? Doesn’t he want to keep up his approval rating? Of course, but if you want your numbers to go up, you have to know which crowd deserves your attention.
Regarding public opinion, I addressed a recent poll which shows that 60% of Trump voters, or roughly 24% of Americans, claim that there is nothing the president could possibly do or not do to lose their support. Contrariwise, short of resigning, 28% of voters can’t think of anything Trump could possibly do or not do in order to gain their favor. That means that there are 52% of Americans whose votes are set and nothing Trump can say or do will change their minds.
That 52% is now totally irrelevant to the political conversation.
Back in 2012, Mitt Romney caught significant backlash for his comments that “there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. … And so my job is to not worry about those people.” This is the classic case of something that is true but you should never say it, particularly when you’re running for president. Everyone knows that you never say that the dress makes your wife look fat, that your child’s recital sounded like a wounded animal, that your newborn baby looks slightly abnormal, or that half of your potential voters view themselves as victims and are dependent on government. These are just the basic axioms of life.
But, Romney was absolutely right. He had no chance of winning over those voters, so he had to focus on middle America — not geographically but ideologically.
So for us, this means that Trump only cares about pleasing 48% of Americans. And whoever runs against him in 2020 will have the exact same strategy. 28% are guaranteed to vote against Trump, and 24% are pledged to vote for him, so why bother with either group?
This is simple campaign strategy, but it has intensely negative implications when it comes to accountability while in office.
Many have expressed concern with Trump’s failure to deliver on key campaign promises, most notably Ann Coulter, who went from authoring In Trump We Trust to calling his tenure “a nightmare” after his showing no success in negotiating, passing a solid budget, or building the legendary (soon to be mythological) wall.
But through it all, Trump doesn’t seem to care. And to be honest, that’s probably because he doesn’t. He doesn’t necessarily need to deliver on those promises in order to stay in power, which is all that matters to him (and most politicians).
Does the 24% crowd want a wall? Sure! But who cares? If not enough of the 48% want it, then there’s no wall, and his base still won’t abandon him. Will he please the 28% by bloating entitlement programs and stumping for universal healthcare? Probably not. But who cares? Whatever a majority of the 48% want, that’s what Trump will do. Same story for the Democratic candidate. Same for your congressman. That’s just how politics works.
If you’re hoping for Trump to keep (or break) his promises, he needs to know that enough people want him to. He’s looking to please 26% + 1, and whoever gets his attention will guide the agenda.