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.
Also published on Medium.