From the beginning of his term, President Trump has pitched both his rhetoric and his policies to his base, not to the country as a whole. He has continued his baseless slurs on immigrants (coupled with a Muslim travel ban and crusade against so-called sanctuary cities) and pushed a tax plan that very obviously penalized Americans in blue states. He began his presidency with the most divisive agenda item — repealing Obamacare — rather than one that could have united Democrats and Republicans (e.g. infrastructure). He nominated extreme and unqualified Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials who promptly went to war with their own departments. He’s done more to accentuate tribalism (from backing failed Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore to accusing former President Barack Obama of sundry crimes and misdeeds) than any president in memory. He’s gone to war with the executive branch (the intelligence community in particular) and any independent source of truth or check on his power. You are either with him or a criminal, a traitor and a purveyor of “fake news.” He’s managed to deepen the country’s divide along ethnic, racial, political, philosophical, educational and geographic (rural vs. urban) lines.
Lo and behold, the voters have noticed. Quinnipiac reports that the electorate may be mostly split on whether the president is mentally stable (45 percent say he is, 47 percent say he’s not) but is very much on the same page when it comes to his political tactics:
Trump is doing more to divide the nation than to unite the nation, voters say 64-31 percent. Every listed party, gender, education, age and racial group says the president is dividing the nation except Republicans, who say 70-24 percent that he is doing more to unite the nation, and white voters with no college degree, who are divided 48-46 percent.
Trump does not respect people of color as much as he respects white people, voters say 59-38 percent. Republicans, white voters with no college degree and white men are the only listed groups who say he respects people of color as much as white people.
“President Donald Trump can’t seem to improve his approval rating, perhaps because of the troubling fact that half of the voters we spoke to think he is mentally unstable,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“The president is a divider, not a uniter, say an overwhelming number of voters, an assessment made even more disturbing by his perceived lack of respect for people of color.”
American voters say 58-35 percent the comments President Trump allegedly made about immigrants from certain countries are racist.
They’ve also figured out he’s lazy (Quinnipiac’s polling finds that 50 percent say Trump works less hard than previous presidents, while 25 percent say he works harder).
As we have seen in poll after poll on his first year in office, nearly 60 percent of the electorate dislikes practically everything he does, and every quality he displays. There simply aren’t potential Trump voters waiting to be convinced. There is however an energized, furious opposition whom he is unlikely to win over short of a wholesale personality change and agenda reshuffle.
During an election, as we saw, you can win with a sharply divisive message, particularly if you can whip up your side and have the good fortune to face a mediocre candidate. Governing is another matter, however. Voters still seem to want an honest, energetic and unifying president. Instead they have Trump, and a substantial majority are very upset about it.
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