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Trump’s pivot – How’s that working out?

August 26, 2016

A week or so into Mr. Trump’s newest “pivot”, how’s it going over with supporters?

Some of them clearly still think he’s the answer to a more modern Republican Party.

“The only way to get along in the United States today is to be very poor or very rich”

So says Elliot, 42, a probable Trump voter who says he is neither of those things.

He is one of the shrinking middle class. He has a decent job, making enough money to keep his bills paid on time and drive a reliable used vehicle. He has a small savings account and participates in his employer’s 401K plan.

In spite of that, he says he’s seeing “slippage” in his middle class status. He used to save about 11% of his salary, but is down to about 4% as it takes more and more of his check just to pay for necessities like electricity, food and medicine.

He feels that the American middle class has become a politically endangered species, and says he hopes that Mr. Trump can reverse that trend.

So why Trump?

Elliott says he is a mildly interested voter, but says he’s happier now that Mr. Trump has decided that he will run on the things that brought him the nomination in the first place.

Asked why that makes him happy he says:

“He’s right about a lot of things that are wrong in the country, and I think he really believes he can restore the middle class and help more people get decent jobs. I was disappointed when he tried to fit into the Republican establishment, but I give him credit for at least trying to work with them. But that’s not the man I voted for in the primary election, so I’m glad that he says that win, lose or draw, what you see is what you get.”

So why still just “mildly interested?”

I meant mildly interested in voting.  I haven’t voted since 2004 because it just doesn’t seem to matter who gets in. I don’t want a President who is just the COO of a political party. I voted for Mr. Trump because he isn’t the establishment-anointed perfect political party employee. That was Mitt Romney, and we know what happened with him. I still don’t think the establishment is going to let Mr. Trump win if they can help it, but I know he can’t win if people like me sit at home on election day.

Who else is there to vote for anyway?  A woman whose entire body of political work has been for sale to the highest bidder for decades? A man who looks and sometimes sounds like he’s sampled a bit too much of his favorite product? Another woman who is essentially an out-and-out left wing activist?

So you’re OK with his controversial remarks and his serial tweeting?

“Not always with how he does it. He does get all bogged down in stupid stuff that doesn’t matter. I’m not saying he’s perfect, but  a lot of what he says is true. He says he’s for all Americans, so maybe talk about them as a unit instead of pandering to this or that group. But when he calls Hillary an incompetent crook, that’s true. When he says the establishment in both parties has let the whole country down, he’s right. When he says the people need to keep more of their own money, that’s just common sense. When he says that the country needs more law and order not less, he’s right. That’s what I meant when I said a lot of what he says is true.”

What is the best outcome for you?

“Obviously he has to win to change anything, and with this Congress even then it’s a long shot. But after winning, I want him not to forget the little guys that got him there. He’s the best and maybe even the last chance for the middle class as I know it.”

Do you think he will win?

“The middle class is still potentially the largest voting group in the country. If they just go out and vote for him because it’s in their own best interest, I think he can win. If they leave it to the Democrats and the establishment Republicans to get all of their trained seals to the polls, then he’s not going to make it”

One last question…have you ever been polled?

“Me?  A white collar, college-educated, non-white male under 50 that hasn’t voted in over ten years? No. The pollsters don’t care about people like me. I’d skew their preplanned results all to hell.”

Will Trump’s “I’m gonna be me” strategy work with other voters like Elliott?

These voters seem to be more patriotic (or nationalistic, as the Clintons label them), sometimes less religious, and certainly less socially Conservative.  In short, more moderate on social issues than the typical GOP kingmakers but far more pragmatic fiscally.

Contrary to popular propaganda, they aren’t all old white male people.

As Trump himself might say, what does he have to lose?  It was patently obvious that trying to fit in as a traditional Republican wasn’t working on any level. At the same time he does need to draw in the disenchanted from other areas.

Considering what Gallup calls the “…extraordinary role that Americans’ race and ethnicity play in determining how they view these two candidates,” (a nice way of saying that the double-edged knife of bigotry and racism cuts both ways) success doesn’t look that likely on paper.

Elliott is also representative of another characteristic of some Trump supporters. He sees Mr. Trump’s flaws, but when contrasted against the competition, feels that he can live with them to support the man’s core message.

There’s no doubt that operationally the Trump campaign’s stubborn resistance to employing some of the traditional election strategies and at least acknowledging that there are certain norms expected has hurt his chances from a logistical standpoint.

As Elliott notes, the middle class is a large voting bloc. Whether they are also a reliable Trump voting bloc remains to be seen.

From → op-ed

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