The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion This is the single most depressing finding in today’s polls showing Trump ahead

Donald Trump spoke for more than one hour, we broke it down to less than five minutes. (Video: Deirdra O'Regan/The Washington Post, Photo: John Moore/The Washington Post)


As the Democratic convention opens in Philadelphia, it’s yet another poll-panic morning as a new CNN poll shows Donald Trump gaining a large bounce from his own convention and going into the lead among registered voters nationally.  We shouldn’t take the head-to-head polling between conventions all that seriously, as a number of observers (including your humble blogger) have pointed out.

But I wanted to highlight this finding, because it tells us something important about the state of the country, irrespective of the ups and downs of the race:

Regardless of how you plan to vote, do you think Trump’s speech reflected the way you, personally, feel about things in the United States today or not:
Reflected your feelings: 45
Did not reflect your feelings: 48

So nearly half of respondents share Trump’s vision of an America in which crime is skyrocketing, dark hordes are spilling over the border, terrorists lurk around every corner, the threat is mounting from a refugee crisis that menaces “the west,” and most important, we’re hamstrung from dealing forcefully with all of these internal and external threats by “political correctness,” i.e, too much racial sensitivity. Never mind that this vision of America is based on a series of egregious lies and distortions. Trump may have accurately captured how nearly half of Americans feel about the country.

Here’s what we saw when we spent all four days of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland everywhere except inside the Republican National Convention. (Video: Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

But the demographic breakdowns are even more interesting. Whites say his speech reflected their feelings about the country by 52-41. Non-college whites say this by an overwhelming 60-34. White evangelicals say this by 73-22. But white college graduates say Trump did not reflect their feelings about the country by 53-39. This shows once again that Trumpism is causing a real cultural split among white voters along educational lines, suggesting that college educated whites are much more accepting of the cultural, social and demographic changes sweeping the country than blue collar whites are.

Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy

So perhaps Hillary Clinton, who is already on track to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win college educated whites in decades, can make a serious pitch for these voters at the Dem convention by embracing culturally and demographically changing America. Meanwhile, majorities of women, nonwhites, and moderates also disagree with Trump’s depiction of America.

But blue collar whites are embracing not just Trump, but Trumpism, in enormous numbers. Now obviously these voters have many legitimate grievances: Elites really have let them down; trade deals really may have killed a lot of blue collar jobs in the industrial Midwest. Wages really have flattened. But all of those legitimate grievances may be leading many of these voters to embrace Trump’s full, apocalyptic vision of America, one framed around xenophobic and ethno-nationalist sentiments of the most wretched kind.

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It’s always possible, of course, that many voters didn’t pay the closest attention to the details of Trump’s speech, and are reacting to the increased media coverage of Trump basically saying that things are a mess, he gets that, and he’ll fix things. Let’s hope so. Democrats will have to figure out how to strike a balance between acknowledging the many legitimate grievances voters have with a basic case that things are getting better and progress is being made, albeit slowly, and that Trump’s authoritarian, strongman allure — even if enticing — is equal parts a massive scam and a unique threat to America.

Be that as it may, Trump has said that he can win by explicitly basing his campaign on Richard Nixon’s 1968 effort. Of course, in reality, for a thousand reasons, the current United States is nothing like it was in 1968. But a whole lot of Americans apparently feel otherwise, or perhaps more accurately, are perfectly willing to be persuaded otherwise.


* NEW POLL SHOWS BIG BOUNCE FOR TRUMP: The new CNN poll finds that Donald Trump now leads Hillary Clinton among registered voters nationally by 44-39 when Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are included, and by 48-45 without them. (A new Morning Consult poll also finds Trump up four.)

That last CNN finding would represent a ten point swing from the last CNN poll, which had Clinton up by 49-42. Stick to the averages, folks: They currently show Clinton still up, but by less than one point. Let’s see where they are after the Dem convention.

* ANOTHER POLL SHOWS NO BOUNCE FOR TRUMP: In contrast to CNN, a new CBS poll finds zero bounce for Trump: The two are tied at 42-42 among registered voters nationally, with each gaining two points.

Did we mention that you should stick to the polling averages?

* SANDERS VOUCHES FOR TIM KAINE, SORT OF: With some on the left continuing to criticize Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine, Sanders, on CNN’s State of the Union, allowed that Kaine is “more convservative than I am, ” but added:

“Compared to Donald Trump, a guy who rejects science, doesn’t even believe that climate change is real…who wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two- tenths of 1 percent…who goes around the country insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, veterans and African-Americans, trust me, on — on his worst, worst, worst day, Tim Kaine is 100 times better than Donald Trump will ever be.”

Hopefully when Sanders begins making this case to his supporters in a more systematic way, they’ll find it persuasive.

* DNC CHAIR PUSHED OUT BY STRONG PRESSURE’: Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as chair of the DNC over the weekend, amid revelations in DNC emails revealed by Wikileaks that a DNC official talked about smearing Sanders over his alleged athiesm. The Post dives deep into what happened, and here’s a key revelation:

[There was] strong pressure from the Clinton campaign and others for the chairwoman to step aside, according to a senior Democrat familiar with the negotiations. She finally did, but not before speaking with President Obama — and not without a fight, according to Democrats familiar with the negotiations.

That’s really hard to fathom. You’d think she would have recognized that stepping down was her only choice, given the circumstances and given the need for party unity to defeat Trump.

* RUSSIAN INTEL AGENCIES HACKED DNC COMPUTERS? With the DNC emails roiling our politics, the New York Times is now taking seriously the possibility that Russia is trying to intervene in the U.S. presidential election:

Researchers have concluded that the [Democratic National Committee] was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. And metadata from the released emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers. Though a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the same agencies are the prime suspects. Whether the thefts were ordered by Mr. Putin, or just carried out by apparatchiks who thought they might please him, is anyone’s guess.

That’s been reported before, but the fact that the Times is playing this up is significant. One presumes the top investigative reporters in the country are now looking hard at it.

* SOME DEMS FEAR A DESTRUCTIVE SANDERS MOMENT: With Bernie Sanders set to speak tonight amid progressive anger at Clinton and the DNC, Politico reports:

While party leaders were eager to insist they expected a show of unity thanks to that swift action against the chairwoman, there remained some worry that Sanders could offer a moment as dramatic as Republican Ted Cruz did when he refused to endorse GOP nominee Donald Trump on national television last week. “There will be some amount of hand-wringing over the next day. Sen. Sanders will have a role to play in this as he talks to his delegates,” said one House Democrat attending the convention. “I don’t expect a Ted Cruz moment.”

Anything is possible, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

 * WHY TRUMP SUPPORTERS BELIEVE USA IS IN THE TOILET: Paul Krugman offers an explanation:

Trump supporters really do feel, with some reason, that the social order they knew is coming apart. It’s not just race, where the country has become both more diverse and less racist (even if it still has a long way to go). It’s also about gender roles…in the minds of those disturbed by social change, chaos in the streets was supposed to follow, and they are all too willing to believe that it did, in the teeth of the evidence. The question now is how many such people, people determined to live in a nightmare of their own imagining, there really are. I guess we’ll find out in November.

Hopefully the Democratic convention can talk some sense into at least a few of them, if any of them are persuadable or reachable at all. Of course, as our lead item suggests, a lot of them might not be.