Five Thirty Eight: Trump Is Now Perceived As a Mainstream Conservative

As I was saying this morning, Trump’s dismal poll numbers have nothing to do with the Alt-Right. Instead, it reflects the growing perception that he is governing as a conservative:

“A new YouGov survey released this week found that 5 percent of registered voters think President Trump is liberal, 19 percent think he’s moderate and 51 percent think he’s conservative. So, a majority of voters think the Republican president is a conservative. Typically, that wouldn’t be news. With Trump, however, it is.

Trump was an unusual candidate in many ways, but one important one was that before he took office, we knew less about his political philosophy than that of perhaps any other modern president. We’re now almost a year into Trump’s tenure, though, and his policy agenda has been almost entirely orthodox Republicanism. Voters have noticed. …

Trump’s stances led voters to believe he was relatively moderate for a Republican — or at least that he was ideologically idiosyncratic. More voters viewed Trump as liberal than any incoming GOP president since at least Ronald Reagan, and fewer voters viewed him as conservative than any Republican since at least Reagan. …

Therefore, it’s not surprising that Trump’s White House policies have pushed his OnTheIssues score toward the conservative end of the spectrum. Trump’s score is now a +60, compared to a +42.5 before the election.”

In the 2016 election, Donald Trump was perceived by voters as a highly unorthodox candidate. He ran as a populist-nationalist and was given a lot of credit for not being associated with the mainstream conservative brand. He seemed different and represented change.

Trump was against endless foreign wars. He said that globalization was bleeding the working class dry. He was going to protect entitlements while building the border wall. He was going to “take care of everyone.” He wasn’t a puppet of Wall Street and was going to go after “the hedge fund guys.” Mainstream conservatives denigrated Trump as an Alt-Right welfare chauvinist.

Fastforward a year later, the perception of Trump in January 2018 is that he has become more conservative. In fact, he is now seen as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan. Voters are looking at the Trump administration and concluding they got the Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio presidency after all. We’ve seen this before with Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

After decades of Reaganomics, voters don’t want it anymore. They tried to send that message in the primaries and general election. The Republican Party didn’t want to hear it.

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  1. If he’s smart he’ll have as many wars as Reagan. Perhaps a summer manouver into Trinidad or Tahiti.

    • Reagan heroically ordered the preemptive invasion of Grenada, which I thought was just a crappy mid-sized sedan built by Ford.

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