Earlier this week I talked about how President Donald Trump can still win in November. In that post I made a simple observation: “When people see Trump, they don’t like him.” Let’s dig into that.
With Trump there is a feeling of chaos. Constant antics. A lack of stability. Never ending controversy. The country is in a constant feeling of diary and turmoil. Every week—if not more frequently– there is a Tweet, or comment, or action, or whatever that creates a new national headache. I can remember early in the administration how every small controversy would take over the news. Now, even ratcheted up foolishness doesn’t get major headlines. We’ve become so desensitized that Trump accusing his accusing predecessor of treason falls of deaf ears.
Recently Axios conducted a focus group of Pennsylvania swing voters. They interviewed 9 voters. 6 voted for Obama in 2012 before switching to Trump in 2016. The other 3 voted for Romney in 2012 before voting for Hillary in 2016. 7 of the 9 swing voters said they were planning to vote for Biden in November.
“Participants described feeling “annoyed,” “irritated,” and “frustrated” to see the president out and about and not wearing a mask amid the coronavirus. They called his approach to the pandemic “arrogant” and “offensive” in the face of deaths, and lamented his Bible photo-op at St. John’s Church in D.C. as “phony” catering to the base that “was in poor taste.”
By contrast, participants described Biden as a “role model” for wearing a mask, calling him “informed,” “educated,” and “responsible.” Several said Biden would bring “respect” back to the presidency and the country.”
The individual responses are even more telling. Here are two quotes from two different 2016 Trump voters turned expected 2020 Biden voters:
“I would like him to stop fanning the racial tensions that are happening right now…”
“People are just over it. They’re over his mouth, they’re over his everything about him and his whole bit, that they’re ready for any kind of change.”
Right now, Trump’s approval in the RCP average is 42.5 yet he’s only getting 40.6% of the vote share against Biden in the RCP average. That seems to suggest that even some voters who think Trump is doing a good job might not be voting for him. Could some people who think he is doing a good job be so tired of him they want change? Even a 2016 Trump and expected 2020 Trump voter sounds tired:
“We need somebody … who talks about bringing the country together.”
The chaos fatigue gets worse when you look at what Biden is doing. Axios reported “most said they haven’t heard much from Biden — and couldn’t think of anything specific that he’s said or done lately”. As I said earlier this week, the key to winning is staying out of sight and mind.
Not only is Trump doubling down on what voters don’t want, Biden is letting him do it. Voters want a return to normalcy– a quiet White House. They may not be in love with Biden but he’s an old school liberal– not radical nor chaotic.
Exit quote: “It’s true that voters want the rioting to end but I think they want all of the upheaval of this era to end, and he’s the face of it. The riots will be a distant memory in November but the residue will be a sense of endless destabilization, often abetted by the president willingly or through incompetence, that’s grown somehow tiresome and dangerous all at once. It won’t be forgotten at the polls that he always sought maximum conflict.”