So here’s Donald Trump tying himself in knots about David Duke and the KKK backing him:
And people have rightly been calling him out on it:
Except it won’t be enormously damaging. It won’t be a boon, necessarily, but it’s not a deterrent. Just look at some of the findings of a PPP poll in SC from a few weeks ago:
Trump’s support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom religious and racial intolerance pervades. Among the beliefs of his supporters:
-70% think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital, to only 20% who agree with it being taken down. In fact 38% of Trump voters say they wish the South had won the Civil War to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren’t sure. Overall just 36% of Republican primary voters in the state are glad the North emerged victorious to 30% for the South, but Trump’s the only one whose supporters actually wish the South had won.
-By an 80/9 spread, Trump voters support his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. In fact 31% would support a ban on homosexuals entering the United States as well, something no more than 17% of anyone else’s voters think is a good idea. There’s also 62/23 support among Trump voters for creating a national database of Muslims and 40/36 support for shutting down all the mosques in the United States, something no one else’s voters back. Only 44% of Trump voters think the practice of Islam should even be legal at all in the United States, to 33% who think it should be illegal. To put all the views toward Muslims in context though, 32% of Trump voters continue to believe the policy of Japanese internment during World War II was a good one, compared to only 33% who oppose it and 35% who have no opinion one way or another.
And here’s a guy warning voters in Nevada who they were saddling up beside should they vote for Trump:
But here’s the thing: just how many Trump supporters do you think would actually be turned off by something like this? They’re not supporting the supporters, they’re supporting Trump, so any association, however unsavory, can always be pushed off. Not only that, but unless there’s some study that shows the large majority of Trumpites are first-time voters, who do you think they were voting for before? Do you think Confederate flag-waving, anti-Islamic Southerners were voting Democrat in ’08 and ’12? Yeah, sure.
What’s more important is how the media will respond when Trump becomes the nominee and the Republican establishment, however reluctantly, gets behind him. Will the media call out party leaders and candidates like Rubio and Cruz for backing the guy who quoted Mussolini, attracts white supremacist groups, etc. etc.? If they endorse Trump, they endorse this kind of hatred explicitly, and unless media hammers this home all day every day, the Republicans will get out of this election unscathed. But they’ll probably get away unscathed regardless.