Last updated on April 4, 2021
Now this is fascinating. David Graham argues in the Atlantic that white voters are abandoning Trump, and they are doing so because of his attitudes about race:
It’s not the economy (Conman Trump continues to bamboozle 56% of the electorate into thinking the economy is doing well). Even his handling of the pandemic hasn’t made too much of a dent according to the polls; his numbers on that aspect have slid slowly, from 50% in March to 41% now.
Instead, the driving factor for Trump’s collapse appears to be race. Polls have consistently shown that Americans disapprove of his response to protests of police violence and believe that he has worsened race relations. In the New York Times/Siena poll, race relations (33 percent) and the protests (29 percent) are the only areas where issue approval lags behind his overall vote preference. In the Harvard/Harris poll, the same two areas earn Trump his worst marks of any issue, though they are still slightly higher than his expected vote.
Trump has always played to his racist base. The whole “birther” business was about attacking Obama on his race. Trump's determination to erase whatever legacy Obama left is driven by his hatred of Obama’s blackness (and his putdown of Trump at the WHCA dinner). He started his campaign by calling Mexicans “racists.” He insisted that the Central Park 5 were guilty even after DNA evidence proved them innocent. He called the Nazis at Charlottesville “good people.” He called African nations “shithole countries.” Somehow, though, none of this seemed to sink in, at least in the polling; he wasn’t losing popularity over it .
Now he is. And Graham argues that it’s the furor over police brutality against Blacks that has brought this to a head.
“There has long been a constituency of white Americans who are fairly educated, many of them college educated, disproportionately women, who have been largely unaware of the extent to which people of color in the U.S. experience real discrimination,” [Ashley Jardina, a political scientist who studies racial attitudes among white people] said. “The news has their attention.” [emphasis added]
That unawareness is a serious problem in itself and one that has long been overlooked. But follow the logic for a moment: Much of the US, including a lot of Trump supporters, had allowed themselves to remain ignorant of the discrimination that Blacks still face in this country. But recent events, and particularly the callous, absolutely inhumane, murder of George Floyd by the police caused something to snap. People — white people in southern towns with few to no Black residents — rose up and continue, more than a month later, to rise up in protest. Trump’s response has been to call them terrorists, deluded, hoaxed. And while he’s at it, he so opposes removing monuments to Confederate traitors that he has threatened to veto the Defense appropriations bill.
Trump has always depended on the underlying current of racism in the US to divide us and give him victory. Now it seems that it’s been turned against him: The country is — finally! — waking up to the reality of that racism, and we are DISGUSTED. And because Trump really is a racist, and shows it every day, the country is increasingly disgusted with him.
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