“Are Liberals Helping Trump?” asks the New York Times national correspondent Sabrina Tavernise (2/18/17). She seems to think they are.
“Jeffrey Medford, a small-business owner in South Carolina [who] voted reluctantly for Donald Trump…should be a natural ally for liberals trying to convince the country that Mr. Trump was a bad choice,” she writes—because “some things are making him feel uncomfortable” about Trump (e.g., the Muslim ban, Russia). But “every time Mr. Medford dips into the political debate—either with strangers on Facebook or friends in New York and Los Angeles—he comes away feeling battered by contempt and an attitude of moral superiority.”
Medford is emblematic, Tavernise argues, of conservative voters turned off by “a kind of moral Bolshevism—the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one.” Writes Tavernise:
Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right.
Tavernise references one Trump supporter who “has deleted all her news feeds on Facebook and…tries to watch less TV.” Withdrawing from current events may be an opposite reaction from your typical Trump opponent, but it’s certainly not equal.
The Times reporter argues:
If political action is meant to persuade people that Mr. Trump is bad for the country, then people on the fence would seem a logical place to start. Yet many seemingly persuadable conservatives say that liberals are burning bridges rather than building them.
The article mostly talks to Trump supporters; it’s another entry in the Trump-supporters-support-Trump genre, with the twist that the supporters blame opponents for the fact that they still support Trump. Tavernise does cite some polling data well into the article, noting that Trump “has high marks among moderates who lean Republican: 70 percent approve, while 20 percent disapprove.”
But she refrains from taking a broader look at polling, which is probably wise, because doing so totally undermines her argument. Here’s Gallup’s daily tracking poll for Trump’s job approval since the inauguration:
Trump started out as the least popular new president in the history of polling, and since then he’s become more unpopular still, with disapproval rising 10 percentage points and approval falling 5 points. That’s approximately 25 million US adults who have started disapproving of Trump’s month-old presidency, and about 12 million who have stopped supporting it.
It’s possible that without Trump’s critics’ “moral Bolshevism,” even more people would have joined the opposition. But if liberals are helping Trump, they’re obviously not helping him very much.