15 May Leslie Marshall: Republican voters are united behind Trump – as a Dem, I’m not surprised
A recent Monmouth University poll shows that 70 percent of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire – the state where the first presidential primary is held – plan to back President Trump in 2020.
Many on both the left and the right were surprised when they saw these numbers. Back in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary, but with only 35 percent of the vote – half his current support – in a crowded GOP field.
First, there’s the economy. Although the stock market turned downward after Trump announced increased tariffs on products from China, the market previously had rebounded to record highs.
And there was strong economic data recently that will help the president as he heads into the 2020 election. In April, 263,000 jobs were added – exceeding labor market expectations.
America’s gross domestic product accelerated at 3.2 percent rate in the first quarter of the year and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in five decades. Wages are slowly increasing after being stalled for years.
And speaking of China, many – especially those on the right – like a president who not only talks tough on trade, but stands up to trade tyrants like China. It’s one of the things Trump campaigned on.
Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon said that Trump “stood tall” on China. “Donald Trump is the first president, Republican or Democrat – because the Republicans are just as bad here – to stand up to the Chinese and say ‘I’m not going to be re-traded. I’ve got these tariffs on your goods right now.’”
And then there is the unity in the Republican Party that Democrats didn’t have in 2016, which hurt them and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Democratic divisions helped to put Trump in the White House.
If you look at the numbers, specifically the exit polling data after the 2016 presidential election, Americans didn’t think much of Trump as a person – a situation that’s very similar to today.
In the categories of personality traits – including honesty and temperament – Trump did and still does score low. But there are those who feel they must stand with their party; hold their noses and vote for their party’s candidate.
And “hold your nose” isn’t an exaggeration. As one of the leaders in the evangelical community – Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – noted, there were several things that made evangelicals uncomfortable with Trump in 2016.
These factors included Trump’s three marriages, reports that he had engaged in extramarital affairs, his mocking of a disabled reporter, and his recorded comments that women let him grab them by their private parts because he was a star.
Despite these things, Graham encouraged Christians and millennials in 2016 to “hold their nose and vote” for Trump. And they did. Some 80 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016.
So did some Republican politicians. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he could vote for Trump in a presidential election if Trump was the Republican nominee, but only while covering up the smell. “I would vote for the nominee, if it was Donald, I’d hold my nose and vote,” Graham said.
But the reality now is that Trump is the incumbent president. He already faces one long-shot challenger and may face another, but it’s pretty certain he’ll be the Republican nominee for president again in 2020.
Polling shows that not only can we expect that Republicans will unite and vote for Trump again, but this time they might not be holding their noses.
Democrats should take note, remember what division did to their party and Hillary Clinton in 2016, and unite around the Democratic nominee for president if they want to take back the White House next year.