To the extent that President Trump has a consistent, defining worldview, it's “America first.” Wrapped up in that short catchphrase is Trump's vehement opposition to illegal immigration and his moves to isolate Americans from the rest of the world, including on free trade and the Paris climate accord.
On both of these counts, though, the United States is moving away from Trump at a pretty strong clip. In fact, by some measures the country is more opposed to Trump's worldview than it has been in decades, if not ever.
A new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows views of globalization have never been so positive, and the same goes for immigration. And even among Trump's base — the Republican Party — his worldview is not ascendant.
On immigration, 64 percent now say that it strengthens the United States. That's up from 54 percent in 2013 and 41 percent in 2005. Pro-immigration sentiment is up even among Republicans, rising from 34 percent in 2010 to 44 percent today.
The shift has been even more pronounced on globalization. There, 49 percent say it has been good because it opens up new markets and creates jobs, while 40 percent say it has been bad because it subjects American companies to unfair competition with cheaper overseas labor.
Back in 2008, as the recession was hitting, pro-globalization views had dropped to 25 percent — half of where they are today. This is also the first time the pro-globalization view has won out on that question in 20 years of NBC/WSJ polling.
And again, even Republicans are split on this subject. As with immigration, the increase in support for globalization owes much more to Democrats and independents, but Republicans haven't exactly soured on it as Trump has risen to the presidency.
These aren't the first polls to suggest Trump's worldview is on the downswing, despite the fact that he was elected president. Polls have repeatedly shown increasing sympathy for and favoritism toward immigrants. And on globalization, a Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll last year showed 65 percent said globalization was a good thing — tied for the highest ever — compared with 34 percent who said it was a bad thing. Again, even Republicans were pretty steady as Democrats spiked in favor.
There is one caveat to all of this, and that is on free trade specifically. While Republican support for globalization has remained steady, some polls have shown an increase in opposition to free trade. (This shift, of course, has been offset by Democrats' sudden love affair with free trade.) But at the macro level, the trends are clear on both immigration and globalization, and Trump is running counter to them.
So how to account for that? It goes back to something I've been saying for a while: Trump hasn't redefined the Republican Party, but instead he's tapped into (or exploited) something within it that previous GOP candidates were unable or unwilling to go after. Much of that is because those nominees wanted to remain viable in the general election. Trump had no compunction about marginalizing himself and going with an extreme base strategy, though, and he managed to win with it thanks to a historically unpopular Democratic nominee and the unexpectedly strong appeal of his message to a very specific region: the Rust Belt.
Trump's win, though, was never an endorsement of his worldview from the American people, and most of his policies have polled very unpopularly. Despite the best efforts of Stephen K. Bannon and Breitbart to make nationalism en vogue, it's just not catching on — even within the GOP base. Most Republicans still like Trump, but the idea that he's created anything amounting to a nationalistic movement just isn't borne out.