Trump’s efforts to discredit coverage of a burgeoning Russia scandal have kept his cultist followers on board, but few others. (“Just over one-third of all Americans say they trust the president either ‘a great deal’ or ‘a good amount’ in any such foreign negotiations. Asked specifically about Trump-Putin negotiations, almost 2 in 3 say they do not trust the president much, including 48 percent who say they do not trust the president ‘at all.’ . . . 60 percent of Americans think Russia tried to influence the election outcome, up slightly from 56 percent in April. Some 44 percent suspect Russian interference and think Trump benefited from their efforts. Roughly 4 in 10 believe members of Trump’s campaign intentionally aided Russian efforts to influence the election, though suspicions have changed little since the spring.”) Most striking, the poll finds that “no more than 1 in 4 Americans believe passionately in him or his presidency at this juncture. . . . Trump’s disapproval rating has risen to 58 percent in the national survey, which was conducted last Monday through Thursday. Overall, 48 percent disapprove strongly of how he’s doing. But while 36 percent approve of Trump overall, only 25 percent approve strongly.”
Even more than the president’s abysmal approval rating or the failure of his health-care plan to catch on (“twice as many Americans prefer the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, to GOP plans for replacing it — 50 percent to 24 percent”) is the significant number of deluded Republicans who are impervious to reality and to replete evidence, undisputed even by GOP senators, of Russian interference in our electoral system. (“Among Democrats, 8 in 10 believe Russia attempted to influence the election and more than 6 in 10 think members of Trump’s team attempted to aid their efforts. But among Republicans, one-third think Russia tried to influence the election outcome, and fewer than 1 in 10 think Trump’s associates sought to help them.”) Eighty-two percent of Republicans, according to the poll, approve of the job he is doing; 62 percent strongly approve. At some point, one must concede that GOP partisans who imbibe hours of Fox News propaganda daily are immune to rational persuasion.
Trump’s most loyal base remains white evangelicals, who still back him by a 61 percent to 35 percent margin. Apparently, an unhinged, ignorant president with a soft spot for America’s most formidable international foe has endeared himself to a group that touts its defense of American “values.” One could say Trump’s unbridled hatred for the media (urban elites more generally), his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and his vitriolic aversion to immigration are sufficient to keep these voters’ affection.
The extent to which Republicans have abandoned traditional national security concerns and, frankly, patriotism in defense of Trump startles us. The party that claimed victory in the Cold War and ridiculed the Obama team’s efforts at Russian reset denies it is even troubled by the fact that “Trump’s son, Donald Jr.; his son-in-law Jared Kushner; and his campaign manager Paul Manafort met last summer with a Russian lawyer who said she had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” A 48 percent plurality of Republicans think this was appropriate. Surely if the Obama team had done the same, they’d be calling for impeachment and prosecution for treason.
While it’s troubling to the rest of Americans that about 35 percent of Americans are sticking with this president and even more distressing that they’d approve of his team’s consorting with Russian officials, the good news for the country is that Trump — who got 46 percent in the general election — has lost more than 20 percent of his support in just six months. In short, the true believers won’t be converted, but they can be soundly defeated at the polls.