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The Erosion of Trump’s Base

The numbers guy, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has been sifting through the data and as usual has come up with a conclusion that contradicts conventional wisdom — Donald Trump’s base is actually shrinking.

But, I hear you say, a somewhat stable 35% to 40% of the country approves of Donald Trump. That’s not shrinking. However, the number of people who strongly approve of Trump is eroding. In February, 30% of Americans strongly approved of Trump, but that number has now declined to 21 or 22%. Or as Silver puts it “Far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support.”

Silver’s point is that people who strongly approve of Trump are not just going to switch all the way to disapproving of him. Erosion happens over time.

Not surprisingly, many of the people who used to strongly approve of Trump have become people who “somewhat approve” of him, and that category has actually increased (but only slightly).

Meanwhile, the number of people who strongly disapprove of Trump has risen sharply, to the point where the number of people who approve of Trump (either strongly or somewhat) has become smaller than the number who strongly disapprove of him. In fact, twice as many voters strongly disapprove of Trump as strongly approve of him. That is what you call an “enthusiasm gap”, which is a very bad sign for the Republicans in midterm elections.

We are already seeing actual results from this enthusiasm gap. On Tuesday, Virginia had a primary to pick candidates for statewide offices, including governor. 540,000 Democrats voted, compared to 365,000 Republicans. This is also a historical increase, as in 2009, only 320,000 Democrats voted in that primary.

And finally, this is just the start of the problems for Republicans. In a new poll, young people (18 to 34 years old) absolutely hate Trump — only 19% of them approve of him. Even if you just limit this to Republicans, only 35% approve. Given that most people’s political beliefs become set by the time they first vote, this is not good news for Trump or the Republicans.



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    Speaking of GOP, our horrible disgusting Chris Collins is now as of today going to carry a gun in his pocket. Can we get a cartoon of him sliding into base with the gun in his pocket firing?

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    I was one of those 540,000 Democratic voters yesterday. It was my first time ever voting in a primary. My district is currently representative by a GOP freshman Representative and went for Trump 53-41. Yesterday’s primary turnout in our district went 57% to Democratic candidates. Yeah, there’s a big enthusiasm gap.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
  3. Jonah wrote:

    I think its also important to note that this surge in enthusiasm resulted in perhaps what we can call the centrist democratic candidate winning rather than the leftist candidate. Perriello was backed by both sanders and warren. I for one think its good. While both Warren and Sanders sound good on paper, when they talk they tend to sound widly unreasonable. They tend to group all banks and all pharma companies and generally all businesses and wealthy people together. While they havent been as rabid as those on the right clearly the terrible shooting event yesterday highlights a moderate touch is required from both sides.

    Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 6:08 am | Permalink
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    There may be enthusiasm on the left, but I have seen no waning of support among my right wing relatives on FB. But perhaps they are too embarrassed to voice their change of heart.

    Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  5. rk wrote:

    I’m with Anon, here. All the Trump supporters I know are still behind the Republican party, if not Trump himself.

    Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    2 things. RK and Anon are right. Just like all the media and polls had Hillary locked in, until election night.
    Jonah- what happens now might not happen in the future… or don’t count your chickens before they hatch…

    Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  7. Jonah wrote:

    Trump related. Barry Ritholtz a well known wealth advisor on what Trump could have accomplished if he had been disciplined. I too was on board with some of Trump’s agenda mostly mentioned by Ritholtz. However its become quite clear that the odds of Trump getting things done are pretty slim

    Friday, June 16, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink