Some people love Trump no matter what. Others will never vote for him. A small third group decides it.
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At the heart of the 2024 election lies a strange paradox: The vast majority of voters fall into two camps, pro- and anti-Trump, both rabidly passionate, with tens of millions on each side. And yet — the 2024 election is confidently predicted to come down to the votes of a few hundred thousand in a handful of swing states who are members of neither camp.
This would not be the case were the two tribes not so nearly equal in size and passion overall. It would probably be more accurate to say that the smaller size of the MAGA camp is compensated for by its fiercer determination. It is remarkably solid, resolutely committed to vote for Donald Trump, no matter what, no exception, no discussion.
One poll after another confirms that these people absolutely do not care whether any new negative information comes to light.
They do not care about any of his poor qualities, lies, liabilities, or deficiencies.
They do not care whether he is convicted of crimes.
If you speak with these people, they will tell you that, straight out.
In short, no matter what he did, or may have done, or might do, no matter how criminal he may be, or vulgar, or dangerously insane, or even “unChristian” — it just doesn’t matter.
One Trump supporter, Jan Altena, quoted by The New York Times the other day, actually said,
“He’s got principles, that’s the key feature there.”
Now, we know, because the evidence is overwhelming and constant, that he actually has NO principles.
So what this means is: Jan’s either shockingly uninformed, or brainwashed, or, most likely, mighty pissed off about a bundle of indignities and perceived outrages, and Trump is his man to express that.
Some of the grievances actually have a sound basis but many, probably most, that drive Trump’s (and the GOP’s) success, were created out of whole cloth or significant distortion of facts and/or the statements and intentions of others, and are promoted by an array of cynical propaganda machines, including right-wing media and social media influencers.
Joe Biden’s son? Bothers them. Trump’s own behavior? Does not.
Biden on China? Bothers them. Trump profiting personally from China? Does not.
A Democrat partied with Jeffrey Epstein. Bothers them. Trump partied with Epstein. Does not.
The desperate measures poor people take to survive? Bothers them. A rich guy taking illegal and immoral actions simply because he wants to, and can? Does not.
On and on.
Because of this, there is simply nothing at all, including any kind of convictions in Trump’s future, that will ever move these people an inch. So that bloc is locked in. And it votes.
A Small Sliver Decides the Fate of Democracy
A second, comparably-sized group, made up mostly of Democrats but also independents and some old-school Republicans, feels exactly the opposite. It will turn out, and it is resolutely opposed to Trump.
That means the next president could be chosen by a third, fairly small sliver of Americans.
We can break that third, wild-card contingent itself into three types:
- Don’t like Trump or Biden, tend to vote, but not sure whom they will vote for.
- Don’t like Trump, but generally don’t vote. The largest group here is probably young people, and in particular young Black men.
- Don’t like Trump, and would like to vote, but probably won’t if the process is made too difficult. That’s where voter suppression comes in. Poor distribution of operational voting machines resulting in long lines, promotion of confusing voter information, outright intimidation by partisan poll watchers, etc. All these things help Trump.
Typically, those opposed to Trump will devote the lion’s share of their efforts — and financial resources — to winning over the first of these three groups.
The second group has always been a problem. Notwithstanding some scattered herculean efforts, that second group has rarely been successfully mobilized.
As for the third group: This is a chronic problem that has been made worse in recent years as Republicans have organized to discourage certain people — Black people, college students, single working parents, urban dwellers — from coming out to vote, and to make it difficult for those who do.
New impediments have been put in place for this third group, and the GOP is building its army of intimidators and objectors.
Those who believe in empowering everyone to exercise their franchise are also in motion, but, without extraordinary centralized action and leadership, their efforts may fall short. To make sure that doesn’t happen, the time to begin planning an unprecedented “Defend the Vote” effort is now.
With Monday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., this is a good time to recommit to an America where every citizen has the right to vote, unmolested, and understands why it is important — no, urgent — that we all do so.