The immediate polarization of the Trump phenomenon pushed Americans into two camps: core Trump supporters and everyone else. The latter traversed both parties and swept many sidelined centrists into a common bond with other anti-Trumpers. The Trump base was and remains unapologetic and extremely loyal.
The Trump victory was a function of sweeping battle ground states by thin margins while ignoring huge losses in uncontested blue states. Though that sounds like a challenge to the legitimacy of the victory, it’s not. One should not expect to lose 30 states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida in the same year and expect to win the Presidential Election in 2016 America.
Pointing to the margin in the popular vote as hope for changing outcomes in the future is a poor plan. The effective baseball analogy is one where a team wins the World Series by winning four squeakers and getting blown out three times. Counting up the runs at the end doesn’t give a sense of the winner, nor should it. What matters is winning where one needs to win. Trump was extremely effective in 2016.
Fast forward 18 months into the Trump administration, there’s a new equilibrium setting in that involves three camps again. Tariffs aside, the Trump administration has been surprisingly consistent on driving core conservative platforms. This gained some momentum and support among conservatives. It’s also exposed a previously undetectable line within anti-Trumpers.
Those that oppose the man, and those that oppose the policies.
While there have been a few universal mis-steps like the zero tolerance child separation policy and the administration’s response to the violent protests in Charlottesville, there have also been actions that divide people into their political leanings yet are part of a rational conservative approach.
Ex: tax reform and Supreme Court nominations.
One can see a reality where those that oppose the man but support the policies mimic the 2016 results and simply abstain from voting in the way they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.
If that’s the case, it’s easy to imagine the same outcome for Donald Trump in 2020 as he realized in 2016.