Analysis

CA120: Despite missteps, Trump’s backers stay faithful

GOP presidential contender Donald Trump at a rally in Boca Raton, Florida. ((Photo: Windover Way Photography)

At this point, the only thing left for Donald Trump to do is to shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue.  On Jan. 23,  he said that he could do that and not lose any votes.

Whether it’s shooting a gun or shooting from the lip, his supporters will not be swayed.

Three-fourths of Republicans (and more than 90% of Trump voters) believe Trump is justified in not committing to accepting the results of the election if he were to lose.

My firm, in conjunction with CA120, has been conducting statewide polling during the debate season. We’ve found that no matter what Trump has said – be it the sexually explicit and aggressive comments released before the second debate, or his statement in the third and final debate that he would not commit to accepting the result of the election if he were to lose – his support here in California has remained very consistent.

Graphic: Jonathan Brown

Graphic: Jonathan Brown

Across this politically tumultuous month, Trump continues to have the support of between three-fourths and four-fifths of California Republicans and between one-fifth and one-fourth of independents.  Obviously, that’s a recipe for electoral doom in a state as heavily Democratic as California – particularly when Hillary Clinton is enjoying better than 80% support from Democrats. But it shows the bind that Republicans are in nationally.

California is a great place to study the results of these comments because there is no sustained advertising (other than the occasional national ad), or other campaigning going on in the state. ca120

This makes it clear that Trump’s support is as solid as Chinese steel.  On a variety of measurements, we found between three-fourths and four-fifths of Republicans – levels identical to his vote –  siding with Trump and minimizing the impact of these scandals.

  • Three-fourths of Republicans (and more than 90% of Trump voters) believe Trump is justified in not committing to accepting the results of the election if he were to lose. His running mate, Mike Pence and his daughter, Ivanka, had previously said that Trump would accept defeat – it doesn’t matter.
  • Roughly four-in-five Republican voters say they were not surprised by Trump’s recorded comments about his treatment of women. Republican Women were no less surprised than men.
  • Nearly four-in-five Republicans say that the recordings either “have little importance to the 2016 campaign” (39%) or “are an attempt by the media to destroy Trump” (40%), while only 21% say that the comments “make it hard to support him” (8%) or “reinforced my negative views of Trump. (13%)”

However, Republicans are alienated from the center of the electorate.

Well over half of self-described Independents (57%) say that Trump is “not at all justified” in not committing to accepting the election results.  After the second debate, two-thirds of Independents said that Trump’s apology for the sexually explicit comments and denial that he had acted in the way he described did not make them feel any better about him.

I have no data, but suspect that they would not be pleased with Trump shooting anyone, either.

As Trump careens along the electoral highway to what now appears to be a sizable defeat, national GOP leaders have to figure out how to reconcile its base with the center of the electorate.  Otherwise, the national GOP will start to look more like the California GOP – so out of step that it’s relevant only in a few isolated areas.

Ed’s Note: Pollster Jonathan Brown, a regular contributor to Capitol Weekly’s CA120 column, is the president of Sextant Strategies and Research.


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