I have some good news and some bad news. The good news: 52 percent of Americans support Joe Biden in the FiveThirtyEight poll average. The bad news: 42 percent support President Trump. Why isn’t Trump losing by a whole lot more? How is it possible that so many still back him despite everything that has gone wrong?
Trump is on track to be the first president since World War II to see a net loss of jobs during his term. Even worse, he has presided over the loss of 214,000 lives and counting from covid-19. That’s already nearly four times the U.S. fatalities in the Vietnam War, previously the nadir of presidential bungling. Even now, after having contracted covid-19 himself, Trump refuses to take the pandemic seriously. He keeps promising it will magically disappear of its own accord while holding rallies practically guaranteed to spread the disease.
As if that weren’t reason enough to vote for Biden, there is also the fact that Trump has abused his power; he was even impeached for doing so. He has trafficked in racism and xenophobia. He has incited violence. He has kowtowed to dictators and trashed our alliances. He has welcomed Russian attacks on our elections. He has locked children in cages. He has called for his opponents to be locked up. In sum, Trump has made a strong case that he is the worst president in our history.
Yet tens of millions of voters still support him. What are they thinking? I get that there are single-issue voters to whom Trump has a strong appeal — people who feel passionately about tax cuts, judges, abortion or Israel. There are also people for whom Trump’s boorishness, racism and xenophobia are not a turnoff but a selling point. (Studies show that appeals to prejudice were the most important factor in Trump’s 2016 victory.)
There are also, of course, many Trump voters who are convinced that he is the lesser evil, because Biden is supposedly plotting to turn the United States into a “large scale version of Venezuela,” even while suffering from “dementia.” They claim Biden is a “puppet” of the far left, even though he opposes Medicare-for-all, the Green New Deal, a ban on fracking, defunding the police, expanding the Supreme Court and other progressive ideas.
The very fact that so many are so willing to believe such balderdash about Biden — a lifelong centrist who remains far more articulate and coherent than Trump — is a worrisome sign of how cut off from rational, factual discourse so much of the country has become. Many voters are still supporting Trump because they’re living in a hermetically sealed disinformation bubble that is impermeable to reality.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/13/how-can-42-percent-americans-still-support-worst-president-our-history/