The latest Pew Research Center poll provides some hints. “Roughly a third of Republicans and independents who lean Republican say that Trump has been delivering the wrong message since the election — and a nearly identical share say that Biden has been delivering the right one,” the poll found. “And even though Trump has consistently claimed that widespread voter fraud was responsible for his defeat, roughly four-in-ten Republicans say allegations of voter fraud do not deserve more attention.”
These are voters who, for whatever reason (e.g., fear of “socialism,” economic self-interest, cultural resentment), preferred Trump but have not given up on democracy. So who are these Republicans?
For starters, they are not captives of the right-wing news bubble. Pew reports: “Republicans who rely only on Fox News and/or talk radio (among eight major news sources asked about) for their post-election news are much more likely than Republicans who use other major sources — or at least a wider variety of major news sources — to say Trump’s post-election messaging has been right. . . . [and] far more likely to say that allegations of voter fraud deserve more attention.” This is consistent with other polling showing that Fox News is home base for the MAGA crowd — and for White voters who think they are the victims of discrimination. (Disclaimer: I am an MSNBC contributor.)
In addition, only 20 percent of conservative Republicans and 27 percent of Republicans 50 and older take issue with Trump’s post-election messaging. Education is another dividing line: Almost 40 percent of Republicans with at least a college degree say Trump’s message has been wrong, compared with 30 percent of those with a high school education or less. Forty-five percent of Hispanic Republicans say the same.
In other words, Democrats have some receptive voters, especially among less conservative, younger, college-educated voters, as well as Hispanics. Most critically, those voters whom Fox has not entirely walled off from reality may be most amenable to a pro-democracy message from Democrats. (Pew reports: “Just 11% of Republicans who turn only to Fox News and/or talk radio say Trump’s messaging has been mostly or completely wrong. That disapproval figure quadruples among Republicans in the mixed-sources group, to 42%. And it becomes the majority view (57%) among Republicans who rely on major sources other than Fox News or talk radio.”)
Democrats, as hard as it may be, should not lump all Republicans together. House and Senate Republicans tend to represent the outlook of hardcore Fox News viewers. (Said differently, congressional Republicans are dutiful players in the Fox News drama of White grievance and socialist peril.) Biden and fellow Democrats in the House and Senate should continue to advance a message that is embraced by the totality of their own party but also by reachable Republicans. A key component of that message is respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, racial inclusion and democratic self-government.