Stephen K. Bannon, former head of Breitbart and now senior aide to President Trump — it’s been quite a year — has emerged as a favorite target of liberal frustration. Bannon has been depicted as the power-behind-the-Oval-Office in popular and social media, the Svengali driving Trump’s hard-right positions on immigration and everything else.
When Quinnipiac University surveyed Americans to gauge their opinions of public figures, then, it’s not a surprise that Democrats had a broadly unfavorable view of Bannon. The surprises lay elsewhere.
Let us begin with Quinnipiac’s findings on the president himself. As elsewhere, opinions of Trump’s job performance were split by party. Republicans think he’s doing a great job; Democrats think he’s awful. Independents, who are always somewhere in the middle, are in the middle.
Quinnipiac also asked about the leaders of each party in the Senate. Unsurprisingly, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer are viewed more positively by members of their own party than by the opposition.
Notice that a much larger portion of responses fall into the “I don’t know enough about this guy” category. That makes sense: Mitch McConnell is understandably less well-known than a celebrity-TV-star-turned-president.
Bannon, of course, is less well-known still. Of Democrats who have an opinion, though, they are 69 times as likely to say they view him negatively as positively.
But let’s pick something else out of that graph. The percentage of Democrats who say they don’t know enough about Bannon to have an opinion is 29 percent. The percent of Republicans? Twice as high, at 65 percent.
And let’s then overlay another remarkable bit of data: Fewer Democrats say they don’t know who Stephen K. Bannon is than say they know who Charles E. Schumer is.
Put another way: Bannon is better known on the left than Schumer — by 12 percentage points. Schumer is less well-known among Democrats than he is among Republicans.
This is a problem for the Democrats. Clearly, efforts to spread awareness about Bannon on the left have been successful. Efforts to fill people in on the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill? Less so. There’s clearly a media gap here, too: Democrats know about Bannon far more than Republicans because they consume different media. But that’s beside the point for Schumer as he seeks to rally his troops.
Schumer is new at his job, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to make himself known to his party. So far, though, rank-and-file Democrats appear to be more interested in understanding the opposition in Washington than their allies.