One of the things that I’ve noticed since Trump was elected is that we have abandoned the play book for how we evaluate political arguments. For example, whenever someone points out that the president lied again or the foolishness of his positions, the response is typically that such an argument won’t affect his base supporters—as if that is all that matters.
This focus on Trump’s base is perhaps understandable. It is hard for most of us to imagine how someone would have voted for a candidate who is so incredibly unfit for office—much less stick with him over these last seven months. Added to that is that they are the only people the president seems interested in speaking to and the media has been obsessed with writing stories about them. The result is that they are constantly in the spotlight, while other voters are ignored.
We ought to occasionally widen our scope and take a look at the bigger picture. That is why I was interested in the reports on a focus group conducted in Pittsburgh by pollster Peter Hart. Keep in mind that Trump won the state of Pennsylvania by only about 44,000 votes out of a total of almost 6 million cast. The group Hart interviewed was bipartisan, with five of the members having voted for Trump. Not one of them was willing to defend the performance of the candidate they supported. Here are a couple of quotes from them: