If the below charts are any indication, it will be very, very difficult.
A new survey of Republicans and non-Republican Donald Trump voters — what Democratic pollster Democracy Corps calls the “New Republican Coalition" — suggests that they have embraced many conspiracy theories and factually inaccurate beliefs about the media and the 2016 election.
Fully 73 percent said that they believe it's at least “probably true” that the media intentionally misled the public about the polls in an effort to hurt Trump; 36 percent say this is definitely true.
More than half — 55 percent — also said that they believe it's probably true that stories about Russian meddling in the 2016 election are conspiracy theories promoted by Hillary Clinton. About a quarter (23 percent) said that it is definitely true.
Trump voters and non-Trump-supporting Republicans are also predisposed to believe Trump's baseless contention that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, according to the poll. Fifty-five percent said this is at least probably true; 20 percent said it definitely happened. (Even Trump's lawyers don't seem to believe this; they're asserting in legal filings that the election “was not tainted by fraud or mistake.")
And then there are two other characterizations of the election that just don't line up with the facts: The idea that Trump won the electoral college in a landslide (63 percent said this is at least probably true), and the idea that Clinton is paying for recounts to undermine Trump (63 percent).
Neither of these are factual. Trump's electoral college margin looks substantial, at 306 to 232, and top Trump allies like Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus have touted the idea of a landslide to combat the narrative of how he lost the popular vote. But Trump's margin of victory is actually the 13th-smallest out of 58 presidential elections when it comes to percentage of electoral votes. And electoral votes almost always exaggerate the true margin of victory in a presidential race.
On the second one, there is no evidence of Clinton actually spurring or funding the recounts, and her campaign has largely shunned and downplayed them. Green Party nominee Jill Stein is the one pursuing them, but the effort appears to be collapsing.
The poll also showed that people disbelieve a couple of numerical facts related to the 2016 election: that Trump is the most unpopular president to enter the White House, that net migration from Mexico has been negative for a while and that the number of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States has actually declined.
On the first one, we don't have poll data for all presidents, but Trump is clearly the least popular among those for which we do have data. It's also exceedingly rare for a newly elected president to be even a little bit unpopular; there's usually a honeymoon in which their popularity increases significantly — at least at the beginning. This seems to be about, again, doubting the polls.
On the second one, there is plenty of data to back up the fact that illegal immigration has substantially declined as a problem and actually reversed its flow after the Great Recession, despite Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail about it being a major problem.
Liberals will look at the data and scoff at what Republicans and Trump voters believe. I look at those numbers and see a very large portion of the population that is instantly skeptical of pretty much any story line the media puts forward that reflects poorly on Trump or runs counter to what Trump has been saying.
It's not just mistrust; it's distrust — basically a predisposition to believing the opposite and suspecting the worst. If the media says Trump lost the popular vote, they believe he won the electoral college in a landslide. If the polls got it wrong, it was a deliberate attempt to undermine Trump (and the same goes with polls of his approval rating). If the media says illegal immigration has declined and reversed or reports on the intelligence community saying Russia meddled in our election, it's probably just trying to undercut Trump's message.
That's a very difficult state of affairs for the media in the “fake news” age.