The full report should be read by any Democrat interested in forging a path back to power with Trump in office. For all the anti-Trump sentiment coursing through the country, many will find Greenberg’s findings sobering. Yes, Democrats could win a small slice of Trump voters by adopting a more economically populist message geared towards the Midwestern states. But the cultural disconnect between Trump’s voters and the opposition is so wide that it’s hard to see Democrats making compromises with this sizable, disaffected constituency.
Greenberg has extensive experience in Macomb County, where he conducted a series of seminal studies of Reagan Democrats in the 1980s. Barack Obama comfortably won the county twice—by a 4-point margin in 2012—leading Greenberg to conclude that the county’s legacy as a working-class bellwether was outdated. But its legacy returned with a vengeance last year, giving Trump a whopping 12-point victory, and providing him his margin of victory in a traditionally Democratic state.
Here are some of Greenberg’s most consequential findings:
Trump’s base is extraordinarily loyal. Not a single one of the 35 Trump voters surveyed said they had any regrets about their vote for Trump, despite the swirl of controversies consuming the White House. They agreed that Trump “gives them hope” when he speaks. “They accept Trump’s version of the news and facts, and their reactions to videos of his press conferences and interviews reinforced that point,” Greenberg writes. Trump’s authenticity—the idea that he is “blunt,” “outspoken,” and “not afraid to speak out”—is a huge selling point to his base. They view Republican congressional leaders as shifty and catering to the wealthy, but view Trump’s motives as heartfelt.
This loyalty has consequences for the GOP’s legislative agenda: TheWashington Post featured a front-page story this week about a Tennessee woman who believed Trump, with some divine interference, helped her afford health insurance thanks to a generous subsidy. The reality was that the subsidy was a part of President Obama’s original law, and would likely be rolled back as a result of Republican reforms.