Now another very suspect call is also being lain bare.
New polls suggest very few Americans agree with the protests against various anti-coronavirus measures in a handful of states. In tweets last week, Trump offered nebulous but clear support for the idea that the protesters would “LIBERATE” their states, and he has said some governors have done “too much” in trying to mitigate the coronavirus.
It was the kind of thing we have come to expect from Trump: A subtle attempt to cast doubt on the recommendations of health officials to continue strict mitigation efforts and a chance to turn the whole thing into a culture war by seizing upon a divisive political issue.
But the issue has now divided Americans overwhelmingly against Trump and the protesters.
A new CBS News/YouGov poll shows just 23 percent of people support the protesters, while 62 percent oppose them. Support is higher among Republicans (43 percent), but even there nearly half of the president’s own party (46 percent) opposes the protests that Trump egged on, despite the participants flouting health officials’ guidance by gathering in public.
Perhaps more tellingly, even many people who support the protesters apparently think what Trump did was out of line. A remarkably low 7 percent of all Americans think Trump should be encouraging the protesters, while 55 percent said he should discourage them, and 38 percent said he should do nothing.
Even among Republicans, just 13 percent said Trump should encourage the protesters, as he did.
An Associated Press/NORC poll released Wednesday offers yet more evidence that Trump picked the wrong alliance. It didn’t ask specifically about the protests, but it did ask whether people think anti-coronavirus measures have “gone too far” in their areas. Just 12 percent of all adults agreed with that statement, while twice as many (26 percent) said they don’t go far enough and 61 percent said they were “about right.”
Again, even Republicans aren’t on board. Among them, just 22 percent say the measures go too far — about as many as say they don’t go far enough (19 percent).
The caveat here is that protesters in these states are disparate, and they may not be protesting the same things. The AP question, for instance, asks people specifically about their own jurisdictions, not to weigh in on what’s happening in other states that might have stricter measures. Perhaps these numbers are higher in the states that Trump highlighted in his “LIBERATE tweets.
But a Fox News poll released Wednesday night of Michigan — a state where protesters have come out against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) measures and which Trump highlighted in a “LIBERATE” tweet — shows just 33 percent say the governor’s measures are too restrictive. Double that say they are about right (57 percent) or not restrictive enough (9 percent).
It also doesn’t mean things won’t change; the AP poll, for instance, registered a slight shift toward relaxing restrictions among Republicans. While in late March, 76 percent of Republicans supported requiring people to stay in their homes except for essential errands, that has ticked down to 71 percent.
But as the CBS poll reinforces, support for the protests is still generally very low, and there is even far less support for Trump encouraging them. The sentiment that Trump clearly sought to cultivate — or at least flirted with cultivating — hasn’t taken hold.
As NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin noted Thursday morning, Trump’s poll numbers have been exceedingly consistent during his presidency. But there was a time in which they dipped significantly: During the highly unpopular GOP push to replace Obamacare. When people’s health and livelihoods were suddenly on the line, they weren’t as interested in engaging in the kind of culture wars Trump has otherwise so effectively stoked.
Today, it seems again as if people aren’t as interested in the culture war that Trump dipped his toe into, given the severity of the crisis. Now Trump seems to be adjusting his posture, going so far as to rebuke Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) efforts to reopen his economy on Wednesday night.