By Eric Zuesse
The Morning Consult poll released on March 30th headlines “Republicans Drive Biggest Decline in Voter Optimism since Trump Took Office: Record drop isn’t matched by a similar decrease in president’s approval rating.”
The U.S. budget-bill and its soaring federal deficits and debt, are driving this, as I pointed out on March 23rd, but I was mistaken at that time to interpret the data as showing more of a Republican disenchantment with Trump than a Republican disenchantment with congressional Republicans. It now seems clear that Republican voters aren’t moving away from Trump; they’re instead moving away from the Republican Party. Basically, there are as many Republicans as before, but their intensity of support for their Party is diminishing, and this declined voter-intensity will probably show up in November’s elections by a decreased voter-turnout at the polls in the mid-term elections.
The just-released MC poll was taken during 26-27 March, which was after my analysis on March 23rd, “Trump’s Base Abandoning Him”, had pointed out (correctly) that, “Increasing the size of the U.S. Government’s debt is, to Trump’s main base of political support (as reflected by the biggest online news-site that informs his electoral following), absolutely unacceptable. … The federal-debt issue is killing Trump politically. His voters don’t much care whether he starts World War III by his respecting and appointing such people as the super-neoconservative John Bolton. Bolton’s being loathed by ‘The libbys’ (liberals) convinces Trump’s followers that Bolton is ‘the right man for the job.’ By stark contrast, they’re rabid against Trump’s signing the Government’s budget bill. And, to them, that’s a much bigger issue than whether there will soon be a WW III.”
They’re not angry against Trump on account of their opposition to the soaring federal debt, such as I had inferred; they are instead blaming their Party for it.
Is Trump, consequently, like Reagan was, “the Teflon President”? Or, perhaps, instead, a tendency might exist for any authoritarian political party (such as Trump’s Republican Party, and also Clinton’s Democratic Party) to avoid despising its leader, regardless of how bad he or she might actually be (in this case, bad enough, even in the view of increasing numbers of Republicans, so as for Trump’s followers to start acknowledging that even when their Party controls all branches of the government, such as now, things become yet more “wrong track” than they had been before). After all: in authoritarianism, all praise goes upward to the leader, and all blame goes downward to the followers, and that’s exactly what’s now happening. Trump is home-free because he’s the leader, so only congressional Republicans receive their voters’ blame. (Perhaps, if Hillary Clinton were President, congressional Democrats would be the ones feeling the heat, as much as congressional Republicans are now. American voters were given a real choice only between two unappealing options, and the outcome could just as well have been determined by a coin-toss.)
Whereas Trump infuriated his base on March 23rd by saying he’d sign the budget-bill, Republicans are overwhelmingly blaming congressional Republicans, instead of blaming the Republican President, for this outcome, which so depresses Republicans.
The MC poll shows that among Republicans (including Trump’s core base): “there was a 22 point negative swing on the right direction/wrong track question, with 64 percent of Republicans saying the country is moving in the right direction and 36 percent taking the opposing view. In the March 15-19 survey, 75 percent of GOP voters were optimistic and 25 percent were pessimistic.” That’s a sudden +11% surge in national pessimism, and a sudden -11% plunge in national optimism, among Republicans, which, together, has produced a 22% swing amongst Republicans toward the pessimism-direction. (By contrast, “Among Democrats, net approval of the nation’s direction in the latest poll slid 8 points, while independents had a 14 point decline.” Those figures are obviously much smaller than the 22% decline amongst Republicans. Right after the budget-bill which so disturbed the Republican base, their national optimism plunged from 75/25 optimism, a 3-to-1 ratio, to 64/36 optimism, a 1.78-to-1 ratio — a huge and sudden fall — and the simultaneous appointment of the hyper-neoconservative Bolton had nothing to do with any decline of support from Trump’s base. But the soaring federal debt definitely does.
The Morning Consult article also says, “This time around, though, public opinion and political experts interviewed on Thursday struggled to reach consensus on why voter optimism declined so significantly.” In my March 23rd article, I had explained it on the basis of key data: the massive swing was amongst core Trump-supporters, because they are enraged that their Party is causing the federal debt to soar, which is thus clearly the biggest issue among Trump’s base. But are they really blaming only their members of Congress for that? They’re not at all blaming their Republican President? Seems so, on the basis of the data.
The Morning Consult article then provided analysis from some of those “political experts”: for example, “Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the conservative Ethics & Public Policy Center, said the drop could be attributed to volatility in the stock market or recent developments regarding a potential conflict with North Korea.” However, according to my methodology — and no methodology was provided for Olsen’s analysis — neither of those factors shows in any data as being even relevant. However, I was wrong to have assumed that Republicans would blame the President instead of their Party. Here is how this absolution of Trump for the Republican core’s rage shows in these latest two MC polls:
Looking more deeply into the latest Morning Consult poll: Amongst Republicans, job-approval for Trump is 45% “Strongly Approve” (and this 45% of Republicans would constitute yet another measure of his voter-base, as consisting now of 45% of Republicans) and 36% “Somewhat Approve”; while 10% “Somewhat Disapprove” and 7% “Strongly Disapprove.” The total Republican electorate is the group which includes his voting-base, and his voting-base is measured either by that currently 45%, or else by the readers at Breitbart News — which latter group can reasonably be assumed to be even higher “Strongly Approve” than is the 45% of Republican voters who show up in MC’s “Strongly Approve” column for Trump. By comparison against that 45%: The second-highest-approving group for Trump that was tabulated by Morning Consult was “Conservative” at 38%; the third-highest was tied between “Evangelical” and “Retired,” both at 31% “Strongly Approve”; and the fourth-highest was “Rural” at 27%. So, clearly, Trump’s voter-base is mainly Republicans — even more than it’s conservatives, or evangelicals, or retireds, or rural voters. (Democrats, therefore, would be, at the very opposite extreme: progressives, seculars, young, and urban. Those are the weakest groups for Trump.)
In the immediately-prior MC poll, on 15-19 March, Republicans’ job-approval for Trump was 48% “Strongly Approve” and 33% “Somewhat Approve”; while 7% were “Somewhat Disapprove” and 9% were “Strongly Disapprove.” So: in the interim between these two pollings, the “Strongly Approve” went down, -3% from 48%, and the “Strongly Disapprove” also went down, -2% from 9%; and this simultaneous decline at both ends of intensity, means that amongst Republicans, sentiments regarding Trump’s Presidency are moving toward lowered intensity. Though overall there was 81% approval of Trump by Republicans in both of the pollings, Republicans are now less intense than they previously had been regarding Trump.
Inasmuch as the main impact is therefore against congressional Republicans, and those are the very people who are running in the mid-term elections, this is yet another indication that the Democratic Party stands a chance of retaking either or both the House and the Senate. (Unless, of course, the anti-Bernie-Sanders — pro-Hillary-Clinton — Democratic Party faction continues its control of that Party so much so that voter-turnout on the Democratic side becomes likewise depressed in November — which could happen; it might even be likely to happen, because the Clintonites won the battle for the DNC’s leadership after Hillary’s defeat; they’re even especially seeking out candidates from the military.)
The Breitbart homepage on March 30th was dominated not by stories about the soaring federal debt (which the readers there are more concerned about than they are about any other issue), but by stories about gun-control
, though with sprinklings of other targets of hostility from conservatives, such as against prominent Democrats, and such as against perceived threats or dangers to Christianity in America. Whereas Democratic Party propaganda focuses on minorities and women as being victims, Republican Party propaganda focuses on the majority and men as being victims. The two Parties label opposite ends of the political power-structure as ‘victims’, which are being characterized, as such, depending not on economic class, but instead upon such factors as gender and ethnicity.
Both Parties focus away from economic class as being an issue, and make their voter-appeals on the basis of other factors, such as race, religion, gender, etc., in order to keep the focus away from the money-power matter — the aristocracy’s control over the country.
This is the standard way for political parties to operate. For thousands of years, partisan (cultural and gender) differences have been the way the aristocracy — the 0.01% who own more than the bottom 50% and who always fund politics — get each “I” among the public (the bottom 99.9%) to self-identify, so as to blame some “non-I” category (men, women, Whites, Blacks, etc.), instead of to blame the aristocracy, for any problems the particular “I” might have. The rulers’ purpose is to prevent their accountability — for each citizen, all blame will go either sideways, or else downward to that individual’s ‘inferiors’; and all credit will go only upward, to the person’s ‘superiors’. For examples of this: both Bush and Obama are viewed merely as former Presidents, instead of as also having been traitors; and both Charles Koch and George Soros are seen merely as successful businessmen and “philanthropists,” instead of as top gangsters, who shape and bend the laws, instead of merely break the laws. That’s normal.
Especially worthy of note is that the Breitbart site — where, on March 23rd, it was clear that the overwhelming concern of Republican voters is the federal debt — the response from Republican propagandists has been to turn away from the Government-debt issue, into strictly partisan issues, instead: that is, into, basically, distractions. Democratic Party propagandists, likewise, use this tactic, on their side (its Hillary faction especially does; its Bernie faction, which doesn’t control the Party, does not, but instead focuses on class-issues — and it loses because the aristocracy don’t want that type of political focus).
By thus confusing and distracting the voters, the same Establishment continues to rule, regardless of which of the two Parties is in control. Thus, for example, Americans went from invading and occupying Iraq for the U.S. aristocracy in 2003, to invading Libya for the U.S. aristocracy in 2011, and to invading and occupying Syria for the U.S. aristocracy since 2012, and increasingly to surrounding Russia by our weapons and troops (in Ukraine and in NATO) for the U.S. aristocracy, thus constantly all the while militarizing the U.S. economy. So long as the voters remain distracted and split by nationalistic or other partisan concerns, the Government remains the same, and it effectively controls the public (and public policy), in the ways (such as militarizing the economy) that the people who are in actual control require the public to be controlled, in America’s ‘democracy’. It’s like a guided economy, but the real “guides” are billionaires, instead of Government officials (who actually are indirectly being paid by, and serving, those “guides”).
For at least thousands of years, the aristocracy have commonly controlled the public by spreading dissension amongst the public, and especially by demonizing the residents (and especially the leadership) in a foreign territory that the given aristocracy wants to grab: ‘the nation’s enemies’. (For example, the Sauds and Israel’s aristocracy are America’s ‘allies’, while Iran’s and Russia’s are America’s ‘enemies’.) It’s the same now, as ever. In such a country, there’s no change, but there instead is ‘change’. So: usually, the ‘change’-candidate wins. And the more that things ‘change’, the more they just stay the same. And voters consequently become increasingly alienated from ‘their’ government, because it’s not really theirs. That’s what’s actually happening, to America, as shown by the relevant data.
*Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010