Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville, who has been married to conservative consultant Mary Matalin since 1993, has long said that in order to defeat Republicans, Democrats need to understand where their voters are coming from. That includes Donald Trump supporters, who Carville and fellow Democratic strategist Stan Greenberg examined via some focus groups in March.
Carville and Greenberg are the leaders of Democracy Corps, a Democratic polling/research organization. Although its primary goal is to help Democrats win elections, Democracy Corps sometimes studies GOP voters in order to determine why they vote the way they do — its Republican Party Project has been studying trends among the GOP electorate. And in March, Democracy Corps used focus groups to compare diehard Trump voters with "non-Trump conservatives and moderates."
In a March 26 report, Democracy Corps explained, "We conducted focus groups in March with Trump loyalists in Georgia and Wisconsin and Trump-aligned, non-Trump conservatives and moderates in suburban and rural Georgia, Ohio and Wisconsin. It took a long time to recruit these groups because Trump voters seemed particularly distrustful of outsiders right now, wary of being victimized, and avoided revealing their true position until in a Zoom room with all Trump voters — then, they let it all out."
Democracy Corps found that "the Trump loyalists and Trump-aligned were angry, but also, despondent, feeling powerless and uncertain they will become more involved in politics…. The Trump loyalists and the Trump-aligned are animated about government taking away their freedom and a cancel culture that leaves no place for White Americans and the fear they're losing 'their' country to non-Whites."
Democracy Corps also found that "Trump loyalists and the Trump- aligned" were "angered most of all by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa" and believe those movements "were responsible for a full year of violence in Democratic cities that put White people on the defensive — and was ignored by the media."
Meanwhile, Democracy Corps found "the non-Trump conservatives and moderates bloc" to be "marginally smaller but vocal in opposition to Trump's direction and animated by his alienation of non-Republicans, the extremism, the 2nd Amendment and guns, and role of government and more."
During the 2020 election, President Joe Biden enjoyed a broad range of support. Everyone from progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City to prominent conservatives like Cindy McCain, former Sen. Jeff Flake, and columnist Mona Charen endorsed him. But diehard Trump voters were bitterly disappointed that he lost the election, and Democracy Corps' focus groups found that they are in a state of total despair.
Democracy Corps explained, "They felt powerless to reverse these important national political decisions, and frustrated that their divided party failed to act with the same determination and unity as the Democrats. They believed Democrats were smarter, rigged the election, had a plan to grow their support, and stuck to their guns — unlike the fickle Republican leaders who gave up on Trump."
Democracy Corps found that the "Trump loyalist" voters didn't feel threatened by Biden himself the way they felt threatened by President Barack Obama — as Biden is a White male in his late seventies. But they viewed Biden as a puppet of the far left. Meanwhile, the "non-Trump conservatives and moderates" expressed a willingness to give Biden a chance.
"The moderates and non-Trump conservatives are just 30 percent of their party, but it makes clear how divided the Republican Party is," Democracy Corps explained. "They know they are a minority, but events since the 2020 election are forcing them to challenge Trump and his party."
Democracy Corps concluded its report on the focus groups by stressing that opponents of Trumpism need to understand the divisions among conservatives.
"Forestalling the worst scenarios and empowering those intent on marginalizing a Trump-dominated Republican Party begins with understanding its new factions and what motivates them," Democracy Corps concluded. "These first focus groups provide rich insights into an angry, despondent and divided party. And Democracy Corps hopes to use these groups and innovative survey methodologies to understand this Trump-dominated party and all its factions and provide its opponents with the tools they need to defeat it."
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