Trump Approval at Record Highs (But Still Terrible)

Nearly half the country thinks he's not a terrible President.

For those of us who follow politics obsessively, it seems like every day brings bad news for Donald J. Trump. But his job approval is somehow higher than it’s ever been.

I was skeptical when I saw the ABC News headline, “Trump reaches career-high approval, yet faces a range of re-election risks: Poll.”

Bolstered by a strong economy, Donald Trump reached the highest job approval rating of his career in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll and runs competitively for re-election against four of five possible Democratic contenders. Yet he remains broadly unpopular across personal and professional measures, marking his vulnerabilities in the 2020 election.

Forty-four percent of Americans approve of Trump’s overall job performance, up a slight 5 percentage points from April and 2 points better than his peak early in his presidency. Still, 53% disapprove, keeping him at majority disapproval continuously for his first two and a half years in office, a record for any president in modern polling.

Fifty-one percent approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, more than half for the first time in his presidency. His approval ratings across eight other issues all are substantially lower, ranging from 42% on handling taxes to 29% on global warming.

Personally, moreover, a broad 65% say that since taking office Trump “has acted in a way that’s unpresidential,” not far from the 70% who said so in mid-2017 and early 2018 alike. Just 28% in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, say his behavior is “fitting and proper” for a president.

That said, support for Congress initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump remains unchanged since April at 37%, while opposition to this step has grown by 13 points since August to 59%, a new high. Sixty-one percent of Democrats favor impeachment action, but just 37% of independents – and 7% of Republicans – agree.

For those who prefer visuals:

I know what you’re thinking: it’s just one poll. I thought that, too. But the RealClearPolitics average shows the same thing:

While he’s technically been at or even marginally above 45% (he was at 45.1% on May 11) in the aggregate before, this seems like a sustained bump.

Back to the Gary Sanger’s analysis of the ABC News-WaPo survey, the way-too-early head-to-head polling pitting Trump against candidates to which most Americans have paid little attention, it’s not looking like the slam-dunk one might think:

Even while it’s up, Trump’s historically low approval rating makes him vulnerable in the 2020 elections – but hardly a pushover. Among all adults (there’s plenty of time to register to vote), Joe Biden leads Trump by 14 points. But that narrows among the other four Democrats tested against Trump in this poll – an 8-point lead for Kamala Harris, a slight 7 points for Elizabeth Warren, 6 for Bernie Sanders and 4 for Pete Buttigieg. The latter two don’t reach statistical significance.

Among registered voters, moreover, Biden still leads, by 10 points, but the other races all tighten to virtual or actual dead heats – Trump a non-significant -2 points against Harris, -1 against Sanders and exactly tied with Warren and Buttigieg.

Still, it looks like an uphill fight for an incumbent President with a strong economy:

Another question tests Trump against “a Democratic candidate who you regard as a socialist” -relevant given the Republicans’ stated aim of applying that label to their eventual opponent. Among the general public the race is tied among Trump vs. a perceived socialist; among registered voters it goes +6 to Trump, 49% to 43%, not a significant difference.

And then there’s this:

Other questions show the extent of political divisions on Trump’s reelection campaign, with an edge to Democratic supporters in intensity of sentiment, specifically the level of importance they place on winning.
Among current Trump supporters (those who back him against all Democrats tested), 52% call it extremely important to them that he wins a second term. At the same time, among current Democratic supporters (those who back all Democrats tested vs. Trump), 73% call it extremely important to them that Trump does not win – a wide 21-point intensity gap for the opposition. The question is whether that translates into turnout.

I’m simply baffled that some 45% of American adults think Trump is doing a good job. He’s been a national embarrassment. Still, those disapproving of him have not constituted less than a majority since March of 2017—rather remarkable since he only took office six weeks earlier.

Of course, as we were reminded on Election Night, majorities don’t necessarily elect Presidents in this country. It’s not impossible for Trump to win another term with 45% concentrated in the right states.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. It’s not impossible for Trump to win another term with 45% concentrated in the right states.

    The problem for Trump in that respect is three-fold:

    1. In 2016, he faced a candidate that, according to the favorable/unfavorable polling was as disliked as Trump himself

    2. Said candidate neglected to listen to warnings about the “solid blue Midwest” not being so solid blue during the final month of the campaign

    3. The Comey letter.

    None of those factors are likely to be in play in 2020.

    I’m not saying Trump is guaranteed to lose, but if he stays in the 40-45% job approval range it isn’t going to be easy for him to win.

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  2. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Trump Approval at Record Highs (But Still Terrible)”

    Yeah right. Same ole same ole fake poll from ABC & Wash Post. Btw, the 44% JA in this poll and 45% RCP average you cite include “Adults” which as you know is a flawed metrics which factors in teenagers and non citizens who will never vote. I believe the “Registered Voters” number in this poll is 47%, which is higher than the 46% than his 2016 popular vote total.

    I wonder if this poll is closer to this Wash Poll/ABC poll less than 3 weeks before the 2016 election https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/clinton-vaults-double-digit-lead-boosted-broad-disapproval/story?id=42993821. LOLOL. Like I said, Wash Post/ABC is FAKE News.

    GL to you with Biden and the other Dem candidates. They are going to need it.

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  3. EddieInCA says:

    @Dr.Joyner

    I’m simply baffled that some 45% of American adults think Trump is doing a good job. He’s been a national embarrassment.

    That’s the most depressing thing to me. Seriously. Almost half.

    The worst part for me is that I talk to alot of these people in Georgia, Texas, and Florida. And the truth is, no matter how many people want to ignore it, is that these people live in a completely alternate reality where Fox News/Breitbart/Townhall/HotAir/Lucianne/Rush/Drudge/Prager/Levin are the ONLY reputable news sources. An alternate reality where CNN/MSNBC/ABC/CBS/PBS are actively lying to everyone about the genius and success of Trump. An alternate reality where Hannity and Tucker are the front lines keeping us from Brown Invaders.

    They’re members of a cult. They don’t care about political norms, constitutional order, principle, morality, or intellectual consistency.

    I don’t see them changing.

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  4. EddieInCA says:

    And….. right on time, Drew shows up to make my point for me.

    #Cult45

  5. Smooth Jazz says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “I’m not saying Trump is guaranteed to lose, but if he stays in the 40-45% job approval range it isn’t going to be easy for him to win.”

    As I mentioned in a prior post, Wash Post/ABC is propaganda. The 40% – 45% JA you refer to includes adults, which is a bogus metric to assess who is going to vote. Take out the non voting “Adult” polls from RCP and his JA is closer to 47% – 50%, more than enough to win considering how CA & NY skews the popular vote numbers.

    Wash Post/ABC had Trump losing by 12 a few weeks before the 2016 election and we all know how THAT turned out https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/clinton-vaults-double-digit-lead-boosted-broad-disapproval/story?id=42993821. LOLOL. Beware of fake polls from anti Trump networks.

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  6. Smooth Jazz says:

    “@Dr.Joyner. I’m simply baffled that some 45% of American adults think Trump is doing a good job. He’s been a national embarrassment. That’s the most depressing thing to me. Seriously. Almost half.”

    Ahem. Maybe the booming economy, record low unemployment, record stock market, etc etc etc explains it. Only people in the #BlueBubble — ie folks who watch fake news CNN & BSDNC all day — cannot see or accept that our economy is performing at historic levels. Even fake news Wash Post/ABC using the bogus “Adults” metric to underestimate Trump’s Job Approval rating cannot deny reality: POTUS is kicking butt and taking names. Sorry you’re disappointed.

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  7. Teve says:

    Apparently Dean Chambers changed his handle to Smooth Jazz. 🙂

  8. EddieInCA says:

    Ahem. Maybe the booming economy, record low unemployment, record stock market, etc etc etc explains it. Only people in the #BlueBubble — ie folks who watch fake news CNN & BSDNC all day — cannot see or accept that our economy is performing at historic levels.

    All of which is THE CONTINUATION OF A TREND THAT STARTED IN 2009.

    The trend has been up for 121 straight months. And you want to give credit to Trump for it, despite that he’s only 32 months into his presidency?

    Like I said. An alternate reality.

    Thank you for further illustrating my point perfectly.

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  9. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA: You forgot The Gateway Pundit and The Conservative Treehouse.

  10. Smooth Jazz says:

    “all of which is THE CONTINUATION OF A TREND THAT STARTED IN 2009.”

    Sure. Obama is the reason the economy is performing at historic levels, not POTUS Trump doing away with Obama’s job killing regulations, the 2018 tax cut, etc. Tell Joe, Harris, Warren, Bernie et al to go with that: The reason the unemployment rate is at 3.6%, wages are rising over 3%, GDP over 3%, etc in 2019, is because of what Obama did in 2009. Yeah, go with THAT explanation. That explanation will wash for sure. LOLOL.

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  11. @Teve: Smooth Jazz has a long history of ranting about polls. Indeed, he was a devotee of the whole unskewing business to which you refer.

  12. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Apparently Dean Chambers changed his handle to Smooth Jazz.”

    Ummm. NO. I’ve always posted as Smooth Jazz here going back to 2004 when this platform was more moderate. Over the years it has evolved into a far left site where conservatives are not welcomed. Once in a while I do stop by to see if it is still a far left #Resistance site.

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  13. Smooth Jazz says:

    “@Teve: Smooth Jazz has a long history of ranting about polls. Indeed, he was a devotee of the whole unskewing business to which you refer.”

    “Skewing” is a 2012 term I believe. Who cares about what happened in 2012?? 2019 is here and now. What I know is Wash Post/ABC had Trump losing by 12 a few weeks before the 2016 election. Skewing, non skewing or whatever term you’re comfortable with, Wash Post/ABC missed badly in 2016 and caution is in order when looking at their polls again in 2019 and 2020 because of their abysmal track record.

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  14. @Smooth Jazz:

    Who cares about what happened in 2012?? 2019 is here and now.

    Well, to be direct, your ability to assess evidence and understand polling was demonstrated to be ridiculously wrong in 2012. And you appear to be engaging in the same kind of ranting now.

    I thought you had learned, but I guess not.

    Here’s a trip down memory lane: One More about the UnSkewed v. Reality Discussion.

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  15. @Smooth Jazz: Yet again, you demonstrate either willful ignorance or actual innumeracy. The trend lines on jobs and the DJIA, to pick two indicators, are clear. I will note that, IIRC, the rate of growth of the DJIA is steeper under Trump.

    But, seriously, reading trends lines isn’t rocket science.

  16. Teve says:

    I have a simply terrible memory, if I know somebody is a troll I don’t read them 95% of the time, I guess I just haven’t seen smooth jazz lately. But maybe I should reconsider, because anybody who thinks Trump is kicking butt is good for the comedic value. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  17. @Teve: I feel like he went into self-imposed exile after all the noise he made about 2012 polling. He pops up now and again.

    And, I would note, that despite all his rantings (as per above) about partisanship, my arguments with him have always been about empirically verifiable issues–such as the accuracy of polls and discussions of methodology.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA: A couple days ago I looked at the FOX website to see what they had to say about the Revolutionary War airports. All I could find was a story about how CNN or somebody was dumping on the speech for some vague reason. We think that gibberish will hurt him, they don’t even know about it.

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  19. James Joyner says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    I wonder if this poll is closer to this Wash Poll/ABC poll less than 3 weeks before the 2016 election. LOLOL. Like I said, Wash Post/ABC is FAKE News.

    First off, a poll from 3 weeks out is a snapshot of that day. Second, ABC-WaPo is in line with similar polls. Indeed, the RealClearPolitics average (still run by conservatives, by the way) shows almost exactly the same result. Third, Clinton wound up winning the national vote—the thing being polled—by over 2 percentage points.

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Wash Post/ABC is propaganda. The 40% – 45% JA you refer to includes adults, which is a bogus metric to assess who is going to vote.

    They’re not trying to predict voting behavior. It’s waaaaaaaay too early to have useful insights on that. They’re simply looking at current attitudes.

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Sure. Obama is the reason the economy is performing at historic levels, not POTUS Trump doing away with Obama’s job killing regulations, the 2018 tax cut, etc. Tell Joe, Harris, Warren, Bernie et al to go with that: The reason the unemployment rate is at 3.6%, wages are rising over 3%, GDP over 3%, etc in 2019, is because of what Obama did in 2009.

    Sigh. Few are arguing that Obama personally caused the recovery. But a trend that’s been on a steady slope for a decade isn’t explained by something that happened eight years in.

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Over the years it has evolved into a far left site where conservatives are not welcomed.

    That you think we’re “far left” is indicative of living in a bubble. Granted, the commentariat has moved to the left as conservatives have gone away. Conservatives are welcome but, alas, the vast majority show up with nonsense about “fake news” and skewed polls and other moronic talking points from Breitbart and Fox & Friends.

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Wash Post/ABC missed badly in 2016 and caution is in order when looking at their polls again in 2019 and 2020 because of their abysmal track record.

    Again, ABC-WaPo is almost exactly in line with the RCP average right now. It’s a bad idea to treat any single poll as definitive.

    Still, as Nate Silver points out,

    Trump outperformed his national polls by only 1 to 2 percentage points in losing the popular vote to Clinton, making them slightly closer to the mark than they were in 2012. Meanwhile, he beat his polls by only 2 to 3 percentage points in the average swing state.3 Certainly, there were individual pollsters that had some explaining to do, especially in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Trump beat his polls by a larger amount. But the result was not some sort of massive outlier; on the contrary, the polls were pretty much as accurate as they’d been, on average, since 1968.

    Indeed, as Dave Weigel notes,

    But when the national popular vote was certified, the major national pollsters were nearly redeemed. The final Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll put Clinton three points ahead of Trump. She won the popular vote by 2.1 percentage points, about the same as Jimmy Carter’s 1976 margin over Gerald Ford. No national pollster was as badly burned by 2016 as by 2012, when those projecting a tie between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had to explain a clear Obama majority.

    The problem, of course, is that we don’t elect Presidents by national popular vote. Weigel continues,

    It was a different story in the states, where a half-dozen pollsters, seen as rock-solid for their command of the local numbers, saw a Clinton win that never materialized. In Ohio, which seemed to have slipped away from Clinton in the summer, the Columbus Dispatch’s unique mail poll — praised by Silver as the country’s most accurate — seemed to find late movement her way. Its final numbers, released on the Sunday before the election, found Clinton and Trump deadlocked. Two days later, Trump triumphed in Ohio by eight points, the biggest Republican victory in the state since 1988.

    But state polling has always been suspect. They’re harder to predict and the polling resources are simply not as robust.

    (And, no, I don’t suspect that evidence-based argument will change your mind. But this is a public forum so perhaps others will read this and reflect.)

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    George Lakoff says conservatives don’t look at complex causation. Not that they can’t, but that they don’t. They’re into direct causation, things are the way they are because it’s God’s will, or the invisible hand, or just the way things are. It’s been my observation that like Smooth Jazz, conservatives are big on cum hoc, ergo propter hoc. It’s of a piece with their aversion to complex causation. As long as the economy isn’t falling off a cliff it will be good and it will be because Trump. If the economy goes bad, however, they’ll display a lot of imagination in arguing it’s Pelosi’s fault, or Obama’s, or the Feds’, or the D nominee’s, or butterfly wings in Brazil. Anything but Trump’s trade wars, or just the normal end of a recovery.

  21. @Smooth Jazz:

    The 40% – 45% JA you refer to includes adults, which is a bogus metric to assess who is going to vote.

    BTW: for approval, polling adults is the appropriate thing to do.

    You are confusing polling about voting with polling about public approval. (The “public” is made up of adult humans).

    As was the case 7 years ago, you don’t understand what you are talking about.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    1. The GOP character assassination machine will spend an awful lot of effort sliming the D nominee. But they won’t have the couple year head start they had with Hillary.
    2. I’ve never been sure criticism of Hillary for not paying enough attention to the key states she lost isn’t mostly Monday morning quarterbacking.
    3. Yes, the Comey letter was a one off, and very damaging. Or at least I hope it’s a one off, the deep state works for the Czar.

    In addition Trump will have way more money than 2016. The stories about his fund raising never seem to mention the big donor, small donor breakdown, but it smells like Koch, The Mercers, Adelson, et al are fully on board this time around. He’ll have money to burn, for which see 1. above. He’ll also have the bully pulpit of incumbency. And the faithful have been marinating in FOX “News” coverage of him for years now. And speaking of 1., FTFNYT will again provide deep dives into any real or imagined peccadilloes of the D nominee, as they did with the squeaky clean Clinton foundation and HER EMAILS!!!. While once again ignoring Trump’s failings as old news.

    On the other hand, Trump has two real liabilities this time around. First, there isn’t going to be any D voter apathy this time. Second, and this is a biggie, Trump now has a record. In 2016 he was a blank slate and people could, and did, read into him anything they wanted to see.

  23. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As was the case 7 years ago, you don’t understand what you are talking about.

    I started to just delete his drive-by comments here as trolling but then remembered that we had a guy by that name years back and checked to see if it was the same guy. I think you’re right that this is misinformed spewing of partisan talking points rather than trolling.

  24. @James Joyner:

    (And, no, I don’t suspect that evidence-based argument will change your mind. But this is a public forum so perhaps others will read this and reflect.)

    My guess is that you will get empirical confirmation of this at some point.

  25. wr says:

    @Smooth Jazz: Hey Smoovie — Who is this “Obama” you’re talking about? I thought Sarah Palin was our president before Trump. At least that’s what you kept telling us was going to happen. Don’t tell me you were wrong!!!

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Conservatives are welcome but, alas, the vast majority show up with nonsense about “fake news” and skewed polls and other moronic talking points from Breitbart and Fox & Friends.

    This is also a problem on a larger stage. Yesterday I saw a lot of comments that NYT should get a better conservative writer than Bret Stevens. I replied that people like Stevens and Ross Douthat seem to be the best conservative writers they can get. At some point they should probably admit publicly that the problem isn’t with their choice of expositors of conservative thought, the problem is with conservative thought.

    I’ve failed to find the quote, and I’d appreciate a lead, but an economist noted of, I think Greg Mankiw, that he was a good economist, a good Republican, and honest; but was forced to settle for two out of three. I don’t think modern conservatism can be defended with intellectual honesty and rigor.

    But, as J. K. Galbraith noted years ago, shilling for the wealthy pays a lot better than crusading for the truth.

    And Rapinhoe just scored on a penalty kick to go up 1-0.

    ETA – 2-0 on a goal by LaVelle. And the root cause is Title IX.

  27. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “I thought you had learned,”

    Sorry, Dr. Taylor, but I’ve got to call bullshit on you. To the extent that Smoovie has even crossed your mind since the last time he posted here, I am certain that you had not thought he had learned… or that he was capable of such.

    But it’s nice of you to say so.

  28. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m not saying Trump is guaranteed to lose, but if he stays in the 40-45% job approval range it isn’t going to be easy for him to win.

    I wonder what even a mild recession will do to this already low approval. Especially if his critics take a page from his playbook and credit him with “lots of people are saying this is the greatest recession ever.”

  29. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: There are good conservative writers out there but then tend to be niche-specific: law, economics, defense policy, etc. I’m not sure I can think of any under-50 general columnists that I find particularly interesting. Douthat is brilliant but sees everything through a religious lens. Put it this way: I can’t think of a conservative analog to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who’s consistently thought-provoking even when I generally disagree.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08:

    In addition Trump will have way more money than 2016. The stories about his fund raising never seem to mention the big donor, small donor breakdown, but it smells like Koch, The Mercers, Adelson, et al are fully on board this time around.

    No prediction, but I have a speculation. Trump seized control of the joint fundraising, which makes me wonder if, a) Trump corruption and incompetence will dilute the effect of the money on the Presidential race and, b) if this will mean that significantly less money will be spent on Congressional races, and if the money that is spent will be allocated effectively.

  31. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: I made it literally six months through 2019 without remembering that Maureen Dowd existed until Kara Swisher linked to a column a couple of days ago.

    if I ran the New York Times the first thing I would do would be eliminate all salaried columnists. I can only think of two people in the entire world who consistently have interesting weekly writing that would fit that format. The format is just a faulty idea, you just can’t produce interesting new opinions on demand.

  32. James Joyner says:

    @Teve:

    The format is just a faulty idea, you just can’t produce interesting new opinions on demand.

    I think you could in the old days when there were limited venues. So, a Walter Lippmann could hear some interesting things on the cocktail circuit and craft them into brilliant columns constantly. Nowadays, though, there are blogs, Twitter, Instagram, and just all manner of other outlets for bright people to get their ideas out there. Now, the emphasis is on speed. Today, 750 people would write a better version of Lippmann’s column before his came out.

  33. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    James Joyner says:
    Sunday, July 7, 2019 at 12:55

    @gVOR08: There are good conservative writers out there but then tend to be niche-specific: law, economics, defense policy, etc.

    Dr. Joyner –

    The problem is that all, or pretty much all, Conservative intellectuals with any real principles have virtually left the party (as you have), without actually renouncing membership to the party. Those with a shred of intellectual honesty realized early on that Trump was too much. People like Peter Wehner, Charlie Sykes, Charlie Dent, Michael Steele, Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, John Kasich, Arnold Schwarznegger, etc.

    But too many others are too much of party loyalists (or are one issue Abortion/Guns voters) to ever really leave. This group abhors Trump in almost every way, yet fall back on the Mataconis position of “Dems will always be worse” and will Vote for Trump (not you, Doug) in 2020. In this camp, I put Rich Lowry, David French, Rod Dreher, Jonah Goldberg, Kevin Williamson, David Brooks and their ilk. This last group is the most dangerous to the republic because they give cover to Trump’s immoral and unethical and illegal actions. Those the the writers who have to be exposed as the hypocrites they are.

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  34. James Joyner says:

    @EddieInCA: That’s fair. I don’t read the others very much but Brooks endorsed Clinton in 2016 and is definitely anti-Trump now. He’s just hoping that the Democrats make it easier for him to vote their ticket by nominating the least progressive candidate possible. I think that’s unreasonable to ask but defensible as a wish. (And even I want people like Kamala Harris to STFU about busing which just isn’t a hill worth dying on in 2020.)

  35. Teve says:

    @James Joyner: good point.

  36. EddieinCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    (And even I want people like Kamala Harris to STFU about busing which just isn’t a hill worth dying on in 2020.)

    I wrote at the time that I thought it was a mistake for Harris to choose that issue on which to try to “get” Biden. So we agree on that.

    I think the polling has shown that Biden is retaining most, if not all, of his African American support after this kerfuffle. It’s not a serious issue for 2020.

  37. gVOR08 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Those with a shred of intellectual honesty realized early on that Trump was too much. People like Peter Wehner, Charlie Sykes, Charlie Dent, Michael Steele, Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, John Kasich, Arnold Schwarznegger, etc.

    I will concede intellectual honesty to some, say Bruce Bartlett. For many on your list I think it was more a marketing decision. They’d pitched themselves for years as moderate, intellectual conservatives, which is hard to maintain while supporting Trump. And a shrinking market.

    There’s also the psychology. A big part of conservatism is the feeling that you’re one with the elite, one of the makers, among the best people. Tough to maintain that feeling under Trump.

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    (And even I want people like Kamala Harris to STFU about busing which just isn’t a hill worth dying on in 2020.)

    Me too, and I’m a raging liberal. I don’t see busing as a Democratic mistake so much as an unforeseen consequence driven by the courts. But not a good thing to remind voters of.

    It’s the standard problem, she needs to differentiate herself from Biden for the primary and sweat the general later. But I’d dearly love to see a variant of Reagan’s rule, speak no evil of other Democrats.

  39. James Joyner says:

    @EddieinCA: Oh, I don’t think the debate will do lasting damage. But Harris is advocating for busing *going forward* not just saying Biden was wrong then.

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    BTW: for approval, polling adults is the appropriate thing to do.

    You are confusing polling about voting with polling about public approval. (The “public” is made up of adult humans).

    I hate to try to make Smoot Jazz’s case, but why do we care about whether people who cannot be bothered to vote approve of the President?

    Is it just that these are the numbers we have historically, so we can make comparisons?

  41. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    That you think we’re “far left” is indicative of living in a bubble. Granted, the commentariat has moved to the left as conservatives have gone away. Conservatives are welcome but, alas, the vast majority show up with nonsense about “fake news” and skewed polls and other moronic talking points from Breitbart and Fox & Friends.

    Not to derail the thread, but IMO the comment section is in a pretty narrow bubble that is pretty far left, in contrast to the content that you, Steven and Doug write which I think is biased quite differently (I’m not trying to be pejorative – every writer or site is going to have certain biases). Additionally, I do strongly believe that you, Steven, Doug and the other contributors welcome conservatives – but the commentariat here does not.

    I’m hardly a conservative, but just in the last week I’ve had multiple commenters question my morality and had one tell me to go fuck myself because I don’t, in their minds, sufficiently oppose Trump. If that’s the response that I get, as someone who has loudly and clearly stated that I don’t support Trump and won’t vote for him, it’s not hard to imagine the commentariat response from someone who is on the fence, much less one who actually supports Trump.

    That is just the most recent example. I’ve been called “unamerican” here, been told I’m an idiot repeating “talking points,” been told to STFU, been told I won’t be taken seriously until I change my views, all in many different ways, but using a common set of tactics. Those kinds of tactics prevent constructive debate and are pretty normal here. Frankly, it’s why I often take breaks from this site and practice a lot of self-censorship in what I choose to respond to. At this point, I understand which topics or positions are a waste of time to bring up unless I have hours to spare responding to comments that don’t address substance.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that I feel invested here after well over a decade of reading and commenting, I’m pretty sure I would skip commenting completely.

    So, in my judgment, any well-meaning “conservative” who is new here – or even anyone with heterodox views, is not going to be given the benefit of the doubt and will not be treated with any respect by a non-trivial number of the regulars here.

    And really, most internet savvy-people these days are smart enough to read the comment section before posting if they are new to the site. What well-meaning Trump supporter (or even someone who isn’t liberal) is going to bother to comment and try to have a debate when the most liked and completely unchallenged comment in this thread is one that states that Trump supporters are cultists that live in an alternate reality? What possible debate could a Trump supporter hope to have in such circumstances? And this thread isn’t unique in terms of which comments are liked and disliked. That signaling is basically the main reason why I’ve advocated, pretty much alone, dropping the like/dislike buttons in every site refresh.

    In my opinion, that is why the only “conservatives” (scare quotes because I think that term is meaningless anymore) who bother to post at all throw bombs or act like trolls. Any honest ones are either not going to bother, or will leave after one go when they get piled on.

    Anyway, as far as conservative thinkers, I think the conservative movement is kaput, split between nevertrumpers and the populists. Given that punditry is static and op-eds are written by the same usual suspects, one needs to look elsewhere.

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  42. @wr:

    I am certain that you had not thought he had learned… or that he was capable of such.

    I actually thought he had learned not to spout the exact same BS, but I was wrong.

    And, I honestly thought that he displayed some contrition in the wake of his foolish behavior in 2012, but perhaps I am confusing him with someone else.

  43. @Gustopher:

    I hate to try to make Smoot Jazz’s case, but why do we care about whether people who cannot be bothered to vote approve of the President?

    Is it just that these are the numbers we have historically, so we can make comparisons?

    I agree that when we start talking about voting, that you want to look at likely voters.

    But the whole point of the public approval rating is to gauge the president’s approval with the public. By definition the target population for those surveys is broader (and always have been).

  44. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I hate to try to make Smoot Jazz’s case, but why do we care about whether people who cannot be bothered to vote approve of the President?

    For three reasons off the top of my head:
    – Because we don’t know which portion of the public will choose to vote.
    – Because those people will have influence on the people that do vote.
    – Because our Democracy is supposed to represent and support the needs of all Americans, not simply the minority who do vote.

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  45. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But the whole point of the public approval rating is the gauge the president’s approval with the public.

    But, that doesn’t attempt to answer the question: what value does it serve to know this?

    @Andy:

    Because our Democracy is supposed to represent and support the needs of all Americans, not simply the minority who do vote.

    Then they should vote. If they don’t vote (and are legally able to), they are fine with either outcome. They are willfully irrelevant.

    As Devo said “if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.” Why not honor their choice and ignore them?

    I don’t think we can pick out likely voters at this stage, and it would lead to all sorts of issues tracking these numbers over time, but registered voters might be the appropriate filter, or registered voters who have either registered or voted in the last 8 years.

  46. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher: The lyric is from Rush, not Devo.

    Regardless, we’ve polled on public approval of the President for decades. It’s useful from a comparison perspective if nothing else. But I agree with @Andy That non-voters are citizens and that their opinion is worth understanding.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Is it just that these are the numbers we have historically, so we can make comparisons?

    I think that’s it. But there is nothing wrong with polling for approval. It’s not only about elections. For instance, how successful would Trump be in leading us into war with those ratings?

  48. @Gustopher: One can dispute the usefulness of the exercise or one can want to ask a different question, but the bottom line remains that the purpose of the approval rating is to gauge the overall attitudes of the population regarding the president’s job performance.

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    So, in my judgment, any well-meaning “conservative” who is new here – or even anyone with heterodox views, is not going to be given the benefit of the doubt and will not be treated with any respect by a non-trivial number of the regulars here.

    This is a real danger in any comment section. I actually see some improvement since the administrators started banning the most obvious trolls and the people who may have believed what they were saying but never actually responded to any challenge. I’m all in favor of taking it a step farther and give short but increasing time-outs for those who use insult and invective, even though I know it would catch me from time to time.

  50. @Andy: I am going to have to agree that people telling other to STFU or to F off is utterly unproductive and unnecessary. I did (too mildly) rebuke the person who did that (I don’t typically tone police the comments–it take enough time to write posts and to respond to comments, but I should do more of it than I do).

    On balance, I would argue that our comment section is a lot more civil than most places on the internet, but things could always be better.

    There are definitely plenty of emotions to be associated with politics, and the era of Trump has ramped that up.

  51. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “Douthat is brilliant but sees everything through a religious lens.”

    Not being snarky here — I’d love to understand what you see in Douthat’s writing that you think is brilliant. All I ever get is “sex is icky and no one should be allowed to do it and if we all lived our lives following every word of the Pope — well, not this Pope, but some other Pope — then we’d all be Free!”

  52. wr says:

    @Andy: “What well-meaning Trump supporter”

    If you can find one, we can ask him. I think he’s standing next to the unicorns…

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  53. wr says:

    @Andy: ” Because our Democracy is supposed to represent and support the needs of all Americans, not simply the minority who do vote.”

    Speaking as one of the commenters around here who has recently given you grief, allow me to say I thought this was a really good answer…

  54. Terrye Cravens says:

    It is the Democratic primary….in an effort to make each other look bad, the contenders are damaging the image of the whole party.

    Medicare for All…open borders.. A center left candidate like Biden or Mayor Pete could appeal to a lot of people, but this yelling at each other and insulting each other is actually making Trump look better to some people.

    Although how anyone could stand that man is beyond me.

  55. @wr: I think Douthat is objectively intelligent, but he isn’t very deep and he comes across as having sublet too many of his arguments and reasons to the Catholic Church–which is only really persuasive to other Catholics.

  56. Teve says:

    @wr: Before I ever came across any of Douthat’s writings, I was in the habit of reading the New York Review of Books, and came across someone reviewing a new political book and talking about meeting the young Harvard-graduate author, an ostensibly bright young man who’d dutifully studied the classics and who was eager to go on a sailboat, and who yearned to be William F Buckley, but doesn’t understand how he’s too late. And I didn’t recognize this young author’s name, and I moved on to the next item, and maybe a year or two later I was reading an op-ed piece in the New York Times when I went “Oh….” because it hit me.

  57. @Terrye Cravens:

    It is the Democratic primary….in an effort to make each other look bad, the contenders are damaging the image of the whole party.

    Such is the nature of primaries in general.

  58. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t think your rebuke was too mild or otherwise not appropriate, and I did appreciate the effort. Besides, despite my whining, I usually try to make it not about me and let readers decide for themselves.

    I also want to clarify that I’m not criticizing OTB’s moderation choices or policies. I have to moderate a fairly large Facebook group and I understand the challenges all too well. There are no easy answers and I fully understand the limitations of managing an online community. So I’m not asking that you censor people in order to appease me or to try to make the community more welcoming to others. I mostly wanted to point out why I think that reasonable conservative voices are absent and that the community here is in a bubble of sorts.

    On balance, I would argue that our comment section is a lot more civil than most places on the internet, but things could always be better.

    I think that is certainly true. I also moderate a youtube channel with ~35k subscribers (very modest by youtube standards), and it is…the…worst.

    @wr:

    If you can find one, we can ask him. I think he’s standing next to the unicorns…

    I think they exist (some are my friends and relatives) but many have learned through experience to just keep their mouths shut around anyone they don’t know. It is quite entertaining, though, to see family members debate via memes on Facebook.

    Speaking as one of the commenters around here who has recently given you grief, allow me to say I thought this was a really good answer…

    I appreciate that, thank you!

  59. EddieinCA says:

    @Andy:

    So much to unpack here, that I’m going to do it in segments….

    Not to derail the thread, but IMO the comment section is in a pretty narrow bubble that is pretty far left, in contrast to the content that you, Steven and Doug write which I think is biased quite differently (I’m not trying to be pejorative – every writer or site is going to have certain biases). Additionally, I do strongly believe that you, Steven, Doug and the other contributors welcome conservatives – but the commentariat here does not.

    I post regularly at HotAir, The Resurgent, National Review, The American Conservative. I post occasionally at The Federalist. Previously, I posted regularly at RedState, until I was banned. Why? Because I like intellectual discourse. I like debating policy. I think I speak on behalf of many commenters here on this site that we’d love a genuine conservative commentator who honestly engages. Even back in the 2000’s around this site, the commentariat was center-left even though the Mods were center-right.

    I’m hardly a conservative, but just in the last week I’ve had multiple commenters question my morality and had one tell me to go fuck myself because I don’t, in their minds, sufficiently oppose Trump.

    No. They questioned your morality for failing to see that Trump is an existential threat all that it is that defines the United States as “The United States”.

    If that’s the response that I get, as someone who has loudly and clearly stated that I don’t support Trump and won’t vote for him, it’s not hard to imagine the commentariat response from someone who is on the fence, much less one who actually supports Trump.

    .

    That’s the point. Which you keep missing. Many of us cannot figure out why 45% of the country supports him still. We understand not voting for Hillary. BUT… now… with almost three years of data, why? People say they support him because of the economy? Fine. But did those same people support Obama because of the economy? Especially given that Obama inherited a mess and fixed it. If not, why not? Why is Trump getting the credit for something started 10 years ago?

    That is just the most recent example. I’ve been called “unamerican” here, been told I’m an idiot repeating “talking points,” been told to STFU, been told I won’t be taken seriously until I change my views, all in many different ways, but using a common set of tactics. Those kinds of tactics prevent constructive debate and are pretty normal here. Frankly, it’s why I often take breaks from this site and practice a lot of self-censorship in what I choose to respond to. At this point, I understand which topics or positions are a waste of time to bring up unless I have hours to spare responding to comments that don’t address substance.

    Your position boils down to “I can’t stand Trump, but I have no idea who I’m going to vote for, and you can’t make me tell you.” That’s fully your prerogative. But…if you choose to keep stating publicly that you might vote third party, then I’ll keep telling you that you’re naive, that you’re wasting your vote, and that you’re enabling another Trump victory. I have nothing but contempt for Nader voters from 2000 and Stein voters in 2016. Trump won states where the Green party got more votes than the margin of victory, so it’s not “just a theory”.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that I feel invested here after well over a decade of reading and commenting, I’m pretty sure I would skip commenting completely.

    . You’d be missed, as you often have insightful comments.

    So, in my judgment, any well-meaning “conservative” who is new here – or even anyone with heterodox views, is not going to be given the benefit of the doubt and will not be treated with any respect by a non-trivial number of the regulars here.

    WTF does “well meaning “conservative”” mean? Why should anyone be given the benefit of the doubt? If someone has an opinion to share, they should be able to back it up with logic and reason.

    And really, most internet savvy-people these days are smart enough to read the comment section before posting if they are new to the site. What well-meaning Trump supporter (or even someone who isn’t liberal) is going to bother to comment and try to have a debate when the most liked and completely unchallenged comment in this thread is one that states that Trump supporters are cultists that live in an alternate reality? What possible debate could a Trump supporter hope to have in such circumstances? And this thread isn’t unique in terms of which comments are liked and disliked. That signaling is basically the main reason why I’ve advocated, pretty much alone, dropping the like/dislike buttons in every site refresh.

    I’d like to find a “well meaning Trump supporter”. Really, I would. Can you point me to one? Can you point me to one Trump Supporter who is honest enough to say “Trump lies alot”. Can you find me a Trump Supporter who can explain the myriad of contradictions in the man’s positions which often happen within the same paragraph? Can you find me a Trump Supporter who isn’t lying about what the President says or does every day? The fact that you can use the term “Well Meaning Trump Supporter” like it a normal thing says alot. A “well meaning Trump Supporter” is a unicorn. It doesn’t exist. But if you have one, point them out. Please.

    In my opinion, that is why the only “conservatives” (scare quotes because I think that term is meaningless anymore) who bother to post at all throw bombs or act like trolls. Any honest ones are either not going to bother, or will leave after one go when they get piled on.. -Emphasis mine – EIC

    Where are the “honest ones?” Show me the site, and I’ll go there and engage them. Here’s a hint. They don’t exist. They’re lying to themselves. That’s their right. But don’t f**king piss on my leg and tell me it’s the rain. I’m tired of being told I have to be nice to bigots, assholes, and racists. I don’t.

    Anyway, as far as conservative thinkers, I think the conservative movement is kaput, split between nevertrumpers and the populists. Given that punditry is static and op-eds are written by the same usual suspects, one needs to look elsewhere.

    Where?

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  60. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:

    I think they exist (some are my friends and relatives) but many have learned through experience to just keep their mouths shut around anyone they don’t know.

    I have these people in my extended life as well. The challenged I find with them is they tend to either not be politically engaged, or are talk radio/Fox News folks who cannot agree to basic facts (some still believing that there has been no substantial warning since 1998), or are single issue voters (typically abortion or the broader Evangelical cluster and taxes).

    Honestly none of those things allow for any real discussion as they either involve a lack of ideology or a complete commitment to it that doesn’t allow for middle grounds.

    At best, when confronted with facts they announce “well both sides are bad” but they will at best vote for an independent (because of a deep seeded belief that while both sides are bad, Democrats will always raise there taxes making them worse).

  61. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    Honestly none of those things allow for any real discussion as they either involve a lack of ideology or a complete commitment to it that doesn’t allow for middle grounds.

    To be honest, I also need to admit that there are certain issues I cannot budge on either – like that the current approach to immigration is intentionally about cruelty rather than policy or that the census citizenship question is institutionalized racism or that in Trump they have embraced everything they said they hated in Obama but turned up to 11.

    So I find myself less capable of finding common political ground with people who support those policies…

  62. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    The lyric is from Rush, not Devo.

    I hearby retract my entire statement, as well as all previous and future statements, after having been discovered quoting Rush. I shall reevaluate my life choices appropriately.

    (My first thought was “was Devo’s ‘Freedom of Choice’ a Rush cover, or vice versa?’, but the internet confirms that they are entirely different songs. Much to my surprise.

    It’s not even a case like Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ” borrowing the music from the folk song “Jesse James” so when you start remembering one you might wander into the other. “Jesus Christ was a man, a carpenter by hand, he robbed the Glendale train…”)

  63. Jen says:

    @gVOR08:

    […] but it smells like Koch,

    Agree with your list with this as the exception. The Kochs are avid free-marketers, and have been very, very angry about Trump’s populist rhetoric. They’re even teaming up with George Soros to end military interventionism, which will likely set some hair on fire somewhere….

    People always lump the Kochs in with Republican megadonors, and in many cases it’s been accurate, particularly in their funding of groups like ALEC and state organizations that target (of all things) public libraries. But, they do apparently hold fairly tight purse strings, and Trump and his ilk have wandered way off field by launching trade wars.

    Let them fight…

  64. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Not to derail the thread, but IMO the comment section is in a pretty narrow bubble that is pretty far left, in contrast to the content that you, Steven and Doug write which I think is biased quite differently (I’m not trying to be pejorative – every writer or site is going to have certain biases).

    The commentariat is a fairly broad range of the left, and is mostly missing the far left — BernieBros, microaggression enthusiasts (milliagressions are about as far as people go), 9/11 Truthers, and the left side of the antivaxxers.

    Dr. Taylor does not seem more conservative than the commentariat.

    Additionally, I do strongly believe that you, Steven, Doug and the other contributors welcome conservatives – but the commentariat here does not.

    If you define conservative as Trumpy, then I think you’re right. But, I don’t think Trump is very conservative. As others have pointed out, you’re looking for honest conservatives, which appears to be a tiny minority of the Republican Party these days.

    I’m hardly a conservative, but just in the last week I’ve had multiple commenters question my morality and had one tell me to go fuck myself because I don’t, in their minds, sufficiently oppose Trump. If that’s the response that I get, as someone who has loudly and clearly stated that I don’t support Trump and won’t vote for him, it’s not hard to imagine the commentariat response from someone who is on the fence, much less one who actually supports Trump.

    Three things I want to say to that:

    1. I don’t think you should stfu. I disagree with you a lot, but I don’t think you should

    2. I think it’s stupid to pile on the people open to third party candidates a year and a half from the election. I thought people were piling on Doug the other day. (Mind you, I think voting for a third party candidate in these circumstances is stupid too, but getting worked up about the merits of strategic voting this far out…)

    3. The people who support Trump are pretty awful people, or wildly misinformed (do they support refugee camps with terrible conditions on our borders, or do they not know?). The people who view him as the lesser of two evils are wrong, but they are generally not actually awful people.

    this thread isn’t unique in terms of which comments are liked and disliked. That signaling is basically the main reason why I’ve advocated, pretty much alone, dropping the like/dislike buttons in every site refresh.

    Downvoting cuts the number of people who respond just to scream “you’re wrong!” — it’s a less worse scenario. The outraged pile on is generally kept shorter.

    I do wonder whether a bit more tone policing is in order — not bans necessarily, not even temporary bans, but maybe giving the worst offenders a page when they post a comment that says “you’ve been a bad, bad boy. Think about that for a minute, and maybe edit your comment before posting”. Most of the people here mean well, but people get snippy when they’re passionate (I know I do), and can use a reminder.

    Anyway, as far as conservative thinkers, I think the conservative movement is kaput, split between nevertrumpers and the populists. Given that punditry is static and op-eds are written by the same usual suspects, one needs to look elsewhere.

    This is why I wonder a lot about your claim of honest “conservatives” out there.

  65. Teve says:

    The liberals who come here come to this website because they like getting out of the bubble and engaging with intelligent conservatives. Steven and James and Doug run one of the damned few conservative blogs that values facts and logic and analysis.

    If all the liberal commenters were so hostile to anything conservative, they wouldn’t be here. They’d be at DailyKos or some other lefty bubble place.

    Are there occasionally kneejerk responses, or some name-calling, or people overreacting to something? Sure. Most people here who comment frequently have probably wound up on the receiving end of some abuse at one time or another. I have. Yeah, it’s not great, but it’s not all that toxic. You’ll never see me hanging out at 4chan or something. For a political website, particularly a conservative one, this place has an unusually good comment section.

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  66. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    I also moderate a youtube channel with ~35k subscribers (very modest by youtube standards), and it is…the…worst.

    This is off topic but I see we are 60+ posts in so what the heck: Honest curiosity here, why do allow comments on your YouTube channel? Are the comments actually a net positive?

  67. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Downvoting cuts the number of people who respond just to scream “you’re wrong!” — it’s a less worse scenario. The outraged pile on is generally kept shorter.

    It’s important to remember why the up/downvoting was added. Before, people would feel the need to post a comment simply agreeing or disagreeing with another poster. They would also usually add a sentence or two because they were mildly pissed off and things would escalate from there. I think it helped reduce this tendency.

  68. Andy says:

    @EddieinCA:

    Thanks for replying, here are my responses in turn:

    I post regularly at HotAir, The Resurgent, National Review, The American Conservative. I post occasionally at The Federalist. Previously, I posted regularly at RedState, until I was banned. Why? Because I like intellectual discourse. I like debating policy.

    The only right-wing blog I read regularly is Hot Air – and mostly I just read Allahpundit and Jazz Shaw. Allahpundit, in particular, is a very clever, witty writer with a keen eye and a heavy dose of sarcasm. The other right of center sites I used to read are not around anymore. Overall, I consume much less political opinion content because I find so much of it to be worthless.

    The only blogs I comment at anymore are here and Dave Schuler’s site as well as a few policy-specific blogs (mostly foreign policy related). I still read a wide spectrum of content and still love my NPR, but it’s slowly being replaced with podcasts. I watch zero cable “news.” I don’t have cable and let’s face facts – cable news in America hardly “news” anymore.

    No. They questioned your morality for failing to see that Trump is an existential threat all that it is that defines the United States as “The United States”.

    Here’s the thing. it’s incongruent to profess a love for policy and intellectual debate and then turn around and state that anyone who doesn’t agree on something is morally deficient.

    And let’s look at the practical terms. How many people in this country actually believe Trump is an existential threat – maybe 20% if we’re being generous?

    If you want to assert that 80% of Americans have questionable morality then that’s your prerogative, just don’t expect anyone to take such a judgment very seriously.

    That’s the point. Which you keep missing.

    I’m not missing the point – I’m disagreeing, an important difference.

    Many of us cannot figure out why 45% of the country supports him still.

    Well, I can’t help you. To me it seems pretty obvious, it’s not like there is an absence of information on this going back for the last three years.

    Your position boils down to “I can’t stand Trump, but I have no idea who I’m going to vote for, and you can’t make me tell you.” That’s fully your prerogative. But…if you choose to keep stating publicly that you might vote third party, then I’ll keep telling you that you’re naive, that you’re wasting your vote, and that you’re enabling another Trump victory.

    No, my position is that I won’t decide who to vote for until I actually know who all the candidates are, and have done the relevant research to inform my choice. What is amazing to me is that anyone would find that unreasonable, much less deserving of opprobrium.

    The fact that you can use the term “Well Meaning Trump Supporter” like it a normal thing says alot. A “well meaning Trump Supporter” is a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.

    This is a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about. You say you want an honest debate with a well-meaning Trump supporter but then you declare that no honest Trump supporters exist. That – very conveniently – relieves you of any obligation to treat anything they say seriously – because, after all, you’ve already determined they aren’t honest.

    Where are the “honest ones?” Show me the site, and I’ll go there and engage them. Here’s a hint. They don’t exist. They’re lying to themselves.

    So, you’re asking me to give you with a unicorn that you don’t believe exists – that you’ve defined in a way that it cannot exist. This is a completely unreasonable demand that is impossible to meet and a perfect example of the poisoning the well fallacy.

    Here’s the thing – an honest debate on the merits can only happen if both sides don’t presume dishonesty/immorality or try to impose litmus tests.

    You’ll notice that I’ve not imposed any similar preconditions on you or anyone else here. I’ve not declared you morally deficient for your beliefs, nor those of liberals or anyone else generally. I haven’t insisted or strongly insisted that politician X supporters are degenerates, dishonest, immoral or any other pejorative. I haven’t insisted that you or anyone else meet some ideological or policy precondition as a test of your “honesty.”

    All I’m really asking for is the same thing in return.

  69. EddieinCA says:

    @Andy:

    Here’s the thing – an honest debate on the merits can only happen if both sides don’t presume dishonesty/immorality or try to impose litmus tests.

    You’ve just hit on the problem. We can’t agree to a set of facts from which to start the debate between left and right. The right has so poisoned the discourse that it’s impossible to debate in good faith.

    Abortion: How do you debate with anyone who starts from the position that “If you’re pro-choice, you’re for murdering babies.”

    Taxes: How do you debate anyone who starts from the position that “Tax cuts pay for themselves” due to the expanding economy.

    Guns: How do you debaate anyone who starts from the position that “Guns are a god given right enshrined in the Constitution and the government can’t do shit about it.”

    Climate Change: How do you debate anyone who starts from the position that “Climate change is a hoax, and even if it’s not, it’s just a cycle that will return to normal.”

    Immigration: How do you debate anyone who advocates separating children from their families as a deterrent to illegal immigration and/or asylum seeking?

    So inform me. How do you debate any of these issues, or any other issue in the current environment, where one side is INTENTIONALLY being misled. You act like we’re going through just another political cycle. As Dr. Taylor said in another thread, “This is different.”

    This. Is. Different.

    But you be you. Go ahead. We will agree to disagree.

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  70. Gustopher says:

    @EddieinCA:

    Guns: How do you debaate anyone who starts from the position that “Guns are a god given right enshrined in the Constitution and the government can’t do shit about it.”

    The intellectually honest gun enthusiasts — and there are some, since they really are the majority of gun enthusiasts — will acknowledge that the “right to bear arms” has limits. Nuclear weapons for example. From there it’s just a matter of which arms, which is honestly a fuzzy boundary.

    Do citizens need enough firepower to deter the state (good luck with that), or enough firepower to protect their family? Are trigger locks reasonable, even though they cost a few seconds while defending your family from a burglar? It’s fuzzy.

    On the rest, I mostly agree with you.

    By the way, I hope (and if I believed in a higher power I would pray) that the right wing is right about global heating. Because we aren’t doing anything about it and if most climate scientists are right we are fucked. But, hey, nutritionists told us that margarine was better than butter for a few years.

  71. Gustopher says:

    If nearly half of America thinks President Trump is a-ok, does that mean that the hosts of this blog are actually left of center?

  72. EddieinCA says:

    @Gustopher:

    Gustopher says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 00:43

    @EddieinCA:

    Guns: How do you debaate anyone who starts from the position that “Guns are a god given right enshrined in the Constitution and the government can’t do shit about it.”

    The intellectually honest gun enthusiasts — and there are some, since they really are the majority of gun enthusiasts — will acknowledge that the “right to bear arms” has limits. Nuclear weapons for example. From there it’s just a matter of which arms, which is honestly a fuzzy boundary.

    Yes. There are intellectual honest gun enthusiasts. Just as there are intellectually honest pro-life advocates, intellectually honest tax cut advocates. (Anecdotally it seems as though alot of them are currently supporting Dems, but that’s a different discussion). Those aren’t the people of whom I write. But I get your point, and agree.

    Ironically, I’m a gun owner. I can take apart my semi-autos, and do so monthly. I shoot them at the range a few times per year. But I feel strongly that I should be, at minimum, tested, licensed and insured, just like I am to operate a car or motorcycle. But I know I’m in the minority of that issue.

  73. Grumpy realist says:

    @EddieinCA: one of my friends has gotten heavily into guns and is now going nuts over whatever VA seems to be about to do, gun-control-wise. I can’t really blame the guns for his mentality, because he was slithering down the batsh*t-crazy Trump supporter hole before that even started. It’s just just….weird. As someone who used to be a news reporter you’d think he would have at least a certain level of skepticism and willingness to double-check the crazier stories that come out, but he’s totally lost all of that. He’s surrounded himself in a snug alt-right cocoon and absolutely refuses to look at conflicting data. It’s saddening.

  74. Teve says:

    @EddieinCA:

    and you can’t allow additional background checks because then the government’s going to confiscate everyone’s guns. And you can’t give my daughter the HPV vaccine because then she’s just going to go whoring around town. And you can’t raise my taxes for something or other because then you’re just going to confiscate my whole paycheck and I’ll be a slave to the government. And you can’t allow gay marriage because then everybody is going to marry their dogs and horses and such.

    In RWNJ world, every slope is always slippery.

  75. Matt says:

    @Teve: I was banned from Crooks and liars for pointing out glaring falsehoods in an article about gun control. It was in relation to the law itself and not something like clip vs magazine. Big ol leftie bubble over there.

    DailyKOS banned me for something and I’m still not sure why because I just didn’t care to find out. I didn’t do anything that was obvious besides provide counter points on some things.

    So I totally agree with you. This place is my go to place for political discussion more so than ever. Even if some people really hate my gun related posts.

    I am more liberal today then I was when I started visiting this blog. Outside of gun control I’m considered a lefty in most places these days. Which is odd for me as I had a heavy GOP voting record until Bush Jr’s second term

    @Teve:

    and you can’t allow additional background checks because then the government’s going to confiscate everyone’s guns.

    “additional background checks?” I don’t get what your statement is supposed to mean. Also I would like to point out that there are multiple commentators here who are regulars and have expressed a desire for confiscation. So it’s not like the fear is entirely unfounded. This is not a defense or anything intended to stir you up. I just wanted to know what you meant and to make sure you’re aware.

    @Grumpy realist: We have a limited amount of time to do things each day. Fact checking takes time and effort. Opening yourself up to divergent opinions takes time and effort. Outrage on the other hand is easy and feels good. Especially if that outrage can be conveyed in a meme with few words. So people end up wrapped in bubble wrap on the internet safe from anything that challenges their perceptions/beliefs. It’s killing society and I must admit I never expected it. I thought for sure the internet would be the key to unlocking humanity’s greatness. That having instant access to all forms of information would be a blessing….

    EDIT : My reaction to an outrage meme is to be extremely suspicious even if the meme aligns with my beliefs. Especially if it aligns with my belief.

  76. Teve says:

    @Matt:

    “additional background checks?” I don’t get what your statement is supposed to mean.

    Background checks for purchases at gun shows or whatever. The details aren’t important, the point was every topic is responded to with ‘you can’t allow deltaX because then all the X’. You can’t have a serious discussion with people who believe that any conceivable law/tax/regulation leads to a maximal fantasy conspiracy outcome.

  77. al Ameda says:

    I’m with Bill Maher on this, Democrats have got to learn how to do politics and messaging if they’re going to beat Trump in 2020.

    I’ll grant that it’s damned early in the game but, when you have the ongoing stupidity of (1) (re)making busing as an issue, (2) suggesting that we need to get rid of private insurance companies in the health insurance business, (3) demanding apologies from Biden conversations with segregationists in his party, (4) Biden actually apologizing for (3)

    …. It’s almost like Democrats are saying to Trump, ‘We’re going to spot you 300 meters in this 400 meter race, that’s how confident we are.’ Democrats need to wise up and tighten up their messaging.

    Trump is still the favorite, until further notice.

  78. Matt says:

    @Teve: There are background checks at gun shows through the NICS… The only firearm sale that don’t require a NICS check is a private sale and some curio and relic sales. Abortions are a small fraction of the services Planned Parenthood provide a year but if you talk with the anti-choice people you’d think that abortions are the only service that PP provides. It’s the same trap you fell into with the gun show comment. Sometimes there are private sales that occur at or near gun shows but the vast majority of deals roll through dealers and the NICS. Gun control is basically the left’s version of abortions…

    Liberals do tend to spend most of their time in the world of facts but there are some subjects that cause them to shut off their brain. Conservatives on the other hand seem to rarely spend time in the world of facts anymore…

  79. EddieinCA says:

    @Matt:

    It’s the same trap you fell into with the gun show comment. Sometimes there are private sales that occur at or near gun shows but the vast majority of deals roll through dealers and the NICS. Gun control is basically the left’s version of abortions…

    I believe that “private sales” or “gun show sales” should be subject to the exact same standards as my buying a car. I should be licensed, the gun should be registered, and I should have insurance. I can’t buy a car via a “private sale” and drive it without registering or insuring it without serious legal repercussions. Why are guns treated so different? Oh, right, because the gun lobby, which is less than 7,000 people strong (NRA and Gun Owners of America COMBINED membership as of Dec 2018) has convinced Americans that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t mean “a well-regulated militia.”

    And I say all of this as a gun owner.

    SigSauer P226
    H&K Compact 9
    H&K VP9 with laser
    S&W .38

  80. Andy says:

    It’s been a really busy day and am only now getting back to this thread.

    @Gustopher:

    The commentariat is a fairly broad range of the left, and is mostly missing the far left — BernieBros, microaggression enthusiasts (milliagressions are about as far as people go), 9/11 Truthers, and the left side of the antivaxxers.

    I’d say it’s pretty far left but it is missing the crazies – which I’m thankful for.

    Dr. Taylor does not seem more conservative than the commentariat.

    I don’t know his politics, I haven’t asked what they are, and he seems to keep his opinions close to the chest, which I respect. The nice thing is that his political opinions don’t matter because he debates in an honest and straightforward way. We don’t impose preconditions on each other so our specific political alignments don’t matter too much in terms of having a useful discussion.

    If you define conservative as Trumpy, then I think you’re right. But, I don’t think Trump is very conservative. As others have pointed out, you’re looking for honest conservatives, which appears to be a tiny minority of the Republican Party these days.

    I agree that Trump isn’t conservative in the sense that I have long defined conservatism. Many modern conservatives are probably more accurately described as reactionaries, but even that as definition issues as well as a lot of baggage.

    This is why I wonder a lot about your claim of honest “conservatives” out there.

    Honesty and honest debate isn’t just about conservatives (however defined) but applies to everyone. The golden rule applies here – At least initially, one must presume the other person is intellectually honest. And disagreement on policy or politics isn’t prima facie evidence of dishonesty. Ideally, an honest debater only focuses on errors or omissions in an opponent’s facts or logic.

    Downvoting cuts the number of people who respond just to scream “you’re wrong!” — it’s a less worse scenario. The outraged pile on is generally kept shorter.

    You’re probably right – I guess there are downsides either way.

    I do wonder whether a bit more tone policing is in order — not bans necessarily, not even temporary bans, but maybe giving the worst offenders a page when they post a comment that says “you’ve been a bad, bad boy.

    I think that is really difficult to do consistently and evenly – it’s something that’s not easy to evaluate against an objective standard and it would require a lot more effort from the proprietors. Since they have limited time and energy, on the whole I’d prefer they spend it writing and engaging.

    If nearly half of America thinks President Trump is a-ok, does that mean that the hosts of this blog are actually left of center?

    Interesting question – I think there are multiple ways to look at it.

    @Matt:

    That having instant access to all forms of information would be a blessing….

    The further irony is that self-education is easier than ever but also more worthless for employment given all the credentialing.

  81. Andy says:

    @EddieinCA:

    But you be you. Go ahead. We will agree to disagree.

    I’m always perfectly happy to agree to disagree.

  82. Matt says:

    @EddieinCA: You don’t have to license a privately purchased car. You don’t even have to transfer the title. Sure some states like California have a requirement on the books to transfer the title within 30 days but there’s no method of enforcement outside of catching it on the road in a traffic stop. Few private sellers even bother to report the sale to the DMV within 5 days as required by state law. THe purchaser is required to notify the dmv within 10 days but that probably only occurs because the person shows up with the title to transfer it. Laws vary state by state though.

    You can drive a car without a license or insurance because “serious repurcussions” only occur if you get caught on a public road. Roughly 20% of the cars on the road here aren’t insured even though it’s REQUIRED by state law in order to get your registration sticker for the year.

    Hand guns are used in the majority of murders. Who are you planning to murder? /anti-guntalkingpoint

    See I actually agree with you but the problem is every-time the Democratic party gets into a position of power they do what they can to fuck gun owners over. I had to wait half a year for my FOID card in Illinois simply because the Democrats in control intentionally cut the staff at the relevant offices while refusing to provide proper funding. I’ve been told that it’s now down to a reasonable time frame because of the federal government forcing Illinois to accept conceal permits and other related things. This also happens to the BATF when a Democratic administration is in place. Time frames for applications increase massively and not just because some of the gun nuts are being nutty.

    So basically I’ve had first hand experience with the Democratic party causing artificial delays intentionally to mess with legal gun owners. Because of course the criminals don’t care about any of this.

    I have insurance, trigger locks, and a gun safe too btw. I don’t have kids so I’m not worried about someone grabbing my home defense shot gun out of it’s hidden spot but just in case I don’t keep ammo in it.

  83. Matt says:

    @Matt: Something else I wanted to add but was too late for.

    The only way we are going to make any headway into this problem is if the Democratic party stops playing games with related agencies. Sure the Republicans will continue to spew stupidity but if gun owners aren’t running into bullshit caused intentionally by the Democratic politicians then they will be more open in the future. As it stands now as a legal gun owner I’ve had more than a few negative experiences due to the machinations of the Democratic party over the last few decades. Talking about things is abstract but actually experiencing them is something else.

    When you have people in the Democratic party calling for confiscation and destruction and you find your application(s) delayed purely because the local Democratic party is sabotaging your ability to be a legal gun owner……well you could imagine the feelings invoked.

    EDIT: If you were wondering the “reasonable time frame” in the above post is >2 months with most seeming around the 30-40 day mark.