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The poll numbers that explain why Republican office holders are loath to criticize Trump

President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump is more popular — WAY more popular (among Republicans) — than the collective Republicans in the House.

In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll among self-identified Republicans, Donald Trump is more popular (78 percent positive/13 percent negative) than the Republican Party itself (61 positive/16 negative).

I think I’ve been in denial. I knew he had his admirers, but I believed that a lot more than 13 percent of Republicans found him objectionable in various ways but voted for him out of party loyalty and because they had been convinced that however sub-par Trump was, Hillary Clinton would be worse. But, according to at least this poll:

Trump is also more popular — WAY more popular (among Republicans) — than the collective Republicans in the House (49 positive/21 negative) or the Senate (41/25) or Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (23/21). NBC didn’t poll on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Sen. John McCain — who in addition to being one of the U.S. Senate's senior Republicans, a former Republican presidential nominee and a war hero who Trump insulted during the campaign (because he “was captured”) — actually gets a net negative popularity rating among Republicans nationally (35 positive/44 negative) in the poll, posted yesterday by Meet the Press as their daily “First Read” item.

If you are by any chance disgusted by the unwillingness of Republican office holders to distance themselves from the current incumbent when he takes positions different from the traditional Republican positions, or criticize him even when he behaves in ways that are boorish or worse, you (and I) should try to remember these numbers.

You have probably noticed that those who have criticized him or broken ranks with him have often simultaneously decided not to seek another term (such as Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake). Because of the numbers above, they felt they had to choose between their political future and their conscience (or, possibly, they had already concluded that they had no political future).

The others, to overgeneralize, are not worried about losing to a Democrat if they fail to criticize Trump. They are worried about losing a Republican primary to a pro-Trumpier alternative if they do criticize Mr. Trump. And all the smart political observers seem to agree that they are correct to worry about that.

I confess, it is difficult for me to retain my understanding of numbers like these for more than a few minutes before I slip back into an older understanding of the kind of person Republicans admire: Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and the first Republican President, Abe Lincoln. (Okay, I’m sort of joking about Lincoln, and, luckily, this poll didn’t ask about him, but you get the point.)

Perhaps it occurs to you to wonder why, if the current incumbent is so popular, why are his approval ratings the worst ever in the history of approval ratings for a president this early in his term. But of course, you know the answer: Trump’s approval rating among independents is very, very bad, and among Democrats it is close to zero. You of course expect most Democrats to hold a negative view of a Republican president (not Ike), but not this negative.

Among the full panel of poll respondents, mixing Republicans, Democrats and Independents together, Trump gets a net negative rating of 34 percent positive, 53 percent negative.

Among the full panel, the Democratic Party also gets a net negative rating, 32 positive/42 negative; the Republican Party gets an even more net negative rating 27/46; and the only entity or person who received a net positive rating from the combined Democrats, Republicans and independents in this poll is John McCain (43 positive/28 negative), which is pretty freaking amazing when you consider that McCain was nine points underwater among members of his own party.

But, as strong as that sounds, I think I get it.

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Comments (114)

Blame the Media

Republicans are also reinforced in their rigidity by the conservative media. A study from Harvard that was released this summer showed that conservative media outlets are more uniformly partisan, while the liberal media is distributed across the spectrum: center, enter-left, and left. Conservative media have no pretense of objectivity, whereas " the center of gravity [for the liberal media] was made up largely of long-standing media organizations steeped in the traditions and practices of objective journalism."

The study also affirms what many have observed about coverage of the 2016 election: the coverage of both candidates was negative, "but largely followed Donald Trump's agenda." Clinton-related scandals were given prominence, whereas Trump coverage focused on policy.

Here is a link to the study:

I was surprised by the Study

I was surprised by the Study results because it did not feel that way and all poll showed the opposite perception among people. So I looked at the study and the results are totally skewed by Breinbart… But it doesn’t have a TV channel or newspaper so why would it really matter?


neither does Facebook.

I highly doubt that the

I highly doubt that the number of people visiting Breinbart and Facebook are comparable.


"Breinbart… doesn’t have a TV channel or newspaper so why would it really matter?" That's like someone in the early 1950s wondering why this Edward R. Murrow fellow is such a big deal, because he isn't in the papers or on the radio. Breitbart is still the media, and it is a source of information for very many people.

Sure, it is the media but is

Sure, it is the media but is just ONE site – you can’t make a judgment about “right-wing” media based on one site.

Just One Site

Just one highly influential site that helps drive the right-wing agenda. Steve Bannon was dredged up from the bowels of Breitbart, and look what he's become.

Bannon is gone from Trump’s

Bannon is gone from Trump’s administration so he didn’t become anyone…

Polling not relevant

Based on performance during the 2016 presidential election, most of us have learned not to pay attention to opinion polling by establishment media operations such as the combined effort of NBC and Wall Street Journal. Three weeks before the election that polling group said Hillary Clinton would win election by 11 points, 48 to 37 percent. Oops.

Based on past performance, I suspect voter support for the president is far more extensive than the poll indicates, which means most of my liberal friends will be increasing their visits to grief counselors.

Not Relevant, Except When it Is

This might be a good time to remind readers that Donald Trump lost the popular vote--the direct expression of the will of the people--and is in office only by dint of the anti-majoritarian quirk of the Electoral College.

It might also be a good time to point out that you are citing only one poll, and ignoring the predictions of aggregators who, at the end of the campaign, were no longer so certain of a Clinton victory.

"Based on past performance, I suspect voter support for the president is far more extensive than the poll indicates . . ." Why? Are poll respondents too embarrassed to say what they really believe (a common conservative fantasy)?

". . . which means most of my liberal friends will be increasing their visits to grief counselors." Stay classy, Mr. Michaels.

We would also be remiss not

We would also be remiss not to take note that a) Hillary rigged the primary to cheat Democrat voters out of their choice of candidate and b) paid twice as much per vote to lose the election.

And that quirk? It's a little thing we call the Constitution.

You'd think, with all the nasty shenanigans being released to the public leftists would be anxious to put the Clinton debacle behind them, but some folks enjoy misery.

Bringing up popular vote

Bringing up popular vote results (which are the product of California’s Republicans not voting since they had no reason to go to the polls) is the same as saying that Clinton was more popular in Europe: both are irrelevant. Plus, Trump is still more popular than Clinton

No Kidding

"Plus, Trump is still more popular than Clinton . . ."

Let's all remember a crucial fact: Hillary Clinton is not running for office, and she is no threat to the Trump regime. None. She is a non-factor.

Trump still sets records for presidential unpopularity, regardless of who ranks even lower in the public esteem.

“Let's all remember a crucial

“Let's all remember a crucial fact: Hillary Clinton is not running for office” Of course but we should also remember another crucial fact: Trump was legally elected the US President so talking about popular vote results is as irrelevant as talking about Clinton’s popularity relative to Trump’s


You are right: The relative popularity of a President with someone who is not President doesn't matter.

The popularity of the President does matter, because it shows how popular his agenda is, or, in the absence of a clearly enunciated policy agenda, how tolerant the public is of spittle-flecked tirades.

The current popularity of the

The current popularity of the President may matter but it is not the same as the result of popular vote in the elections that took place a year ago.


“… I suspect voter support for the president is far more extensive than the poll indicates…”

I suspect Mr. Michaels is correct, and that's what's most troubling. There are obviously lots of people who don't much care about, and perhaps quite a few who even approve of, a president who has demonstrated that he's a boorish racist, misogynist to the core, insecure enough that **he's** the one who ought to be in therapy, and quite literally has no understanding of how most of his subjects…er… most citizens, actually live in this country. It's a combination that would be troubling anyway, but that he flaunts these multiple personality flaws and simultaneously maintains high approval ratings among True Believers tells us quite a bit (none of it reassuring) about those true believers.

Don't forget what happened in

Don't forget what happened in the last three weeks before the election! Between James Comey's ineptitude and Russian troll farm work, etc., such an early poll doesn't reveal the dynamics of manipulation of the electorate in ways we're just now finding out.


You get tired of hearing this, no doubt, but, as mentioned, your guy lost by 3,000,000 votes but managed to squeak out a win by coming out ahead by somewhere around 80,000 votes in three states (that, "allegedly," included some kind of murky assist from some non-voters in Russia).

Or, put another way, out of 165,000,000 or so total votes, candidate A comes out with 3,000,000 more of them than candidate B but loses because candidate B got 80,000 more of them.

And, based on that brand of logic, you're saying all polls by "establishment media operations" (EMOs) are junk, phony, not to be trusted and, obviously, just another part of the whacked-out (and dangerous!) liberal media machine that is on a collective mission to take your guy down.

I don't know . . . That kind of sounds like something I might have read in an e-newsletter from the late, great Roger Ailes or Roger Stone or their former boss, Richard Nixon, or Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort or maybe even the president himself if any of them published e-newsletters and I subscribed to any of them.

But that aside, I'm not near as sure those polls were or are as far off as you're telling yourself they are . . . I guess we'll be seeing, aye?

One thing American liberals have to accept

At this point in time many self-described Republicans have simply withdrawn into their own alternative reality. This is "centrism" is untenable, we can't drift any closer towards fantasy than we already have, and these folks aren't going to move towards the left.

This trend has be obvious for a very long time and many Democrats have been in denial, but there you have it. The good news is that these Trump supporters are a clear minority, so even if congressional Republicans play to their "base", that small base doesn't have the numerical power to keep them in office for very long, as long as the Democrats don't keep blowing it.

Centrist extinction

One of the things that jumped out at me in conjunction with the recent retirements (and blasphemy) of Bob Corker and Jeff Flake is that they were (somehow) defined as "moderates" which just goes to show how close to the asylum gates things "on the right" are getting.

Jeff Flake is a "Goldwater Republican."

Goldwater was the most radical conservative a mostly shocked America had ever seen (since Harding, Coolidge and Hoover but who remembers them or the Great Depression?) when he stepped up to the plate to get buried by Lyndon Johnson.

I don't know the specifics of Corker's conservative pedigree, but my general sense is he wasn't that far removed from whatever exactly a Goldwater Republican is (besides the forerunner to whatever a Reagan Republican is, or, it's starting to seem, was).

So while I think you're 100% correct in your assessment of Democrat's Great Centrist Muddle problem, somehow it "pales in comparison" to whatever's actually happening in the conservative rocket ride to whatever it is that's out there beyond the "right wing of the party": The moderate or centrist Republican train seems to have left the cemetery station a light year or two ago. That doesn't solve the Democratic Party's problem by any means, but it IS some kind of phenomena in a class of it's own.

As an example of just how odd it's getting, I thought the Luther Strange (Trump) vs. Judge Roy Moore (Bannon) thing was a good test tube example . . . Not so much the (relatively minor) Trump vs. Bannon (tag team) aspect, but that the Judge actually WON!

Yeehaaa! . . Imagine half a Congress full of different versions of THAT guy and the kind of legislation that would get proposed, if not passed and enacted . . . Ouuueee!

But, speaking of what you've been saying about the "New Democrats" lurch to the mostly fruitless center (and identity crisis), I read this yesterday and couldn't help but think of what you've been saying:

"Pollsters: Democrats will lose unless they turn 'rigged' message back on Trump"

A LOT more actual Democratic thinking and discussion of what that "progressive thing" actually is, means, how it got started (by a Republican, no less; not to mention Teddy Roosevelt, etc.) and what the agenda and message ought to be would be an excellent idea, I'd say.

But that's a topic for another day . . .

Exactly, but the problem once again is liberals

Sure, Republicans and conservatives have a history of hijacking and defining terms, that's what they did with: "Liberal" back in the 80s, and they will no doubt try it again with:"progressive". The key is to let progressives NOT centrist liberals respond. What happened with: "Liberal" back in the 80s was centrist Democrats left the field and conceded the definition to the Republicans. Remember when Bush Sr. used say: "Liiiiberal" out fo the side of his mouth with a snarl... and Democrats responded: "We're not Liberals!" THAT was the problem. THAT'S not how progressives responded. Progressives know how to win rhetorical jousts like this, but they've been locked out of the Democratic party. This is why Sanders's message was so strong and appealing and Clinton's was so weak.

For decades "liberals" have complained that they can't "message" their positions like Republicans can. The problem was never an existential difficulty messaging liberal agendas, the problem was that neoliberal Democrats couldn't draw clear lines between their own positions and reactionary conservative positions... because those positions weren't far enough apart.

Sanders for instance doesn't worry about being called a Socialist because he knows as long as the message is stronger than the label the message will prevail. So he runs and sure enough tens of millions of Americans don't care whether or not he's a Socialist. And at any rate, he's not really a Socialist, he's a classic New Deal Democrat. He doesn't even bother to point that out because he focuses on message rather than label, and it works.

If Sanders is not a

If Sanders is not a Socialist, why is he calling himself a Socialist? I can think of only two possible answers: a. He is really a socialist and b. He is not but thinks that this label will actually help him among the young people who don’t know what socialism is in real life (Cuba and Venezuela examples notwithstanding) but, as all young people, are idealistic and don’t know how to use critical thinking to distinguish between nice slogans from reality.

On the other hand, many people think that it is Progressives who are living in their own “alternative reality,” i.e. ivory towers. Interestingly, a WaPo piece referenced by Mr. Willy does not at the end suggest a positive message about economy (despite hinting at it in the beginning) but still that old “Republicans bad, Democrats good” (if we rephrase the latest Charter’s slogan) one plus the fair share reference despite 1% paying 50% of all taxes. I still can’t see any positive message that Progressives can offer…

This isn't rocket science.

The sad reality is that Trump's support in the GOP isn't really reflective of his policy. He's had no accomplishments to speak of. The bottom line for Trump supporters is that they just hate liberals...period.

What they hate.. a long long list. Let's just say they Hate. Period.

It seems that Clinton and

It seems that Clinton and Sanders supporters strongly dislike conservatives..

I'd be interested in knowing what it is

conservatives think it is that Trump will deliver to help their lives. Ten months into Trumps official time in office there has been tons of braggadocio, lying, and unabashed self evaluations (another form of lying for Trump). He creates doubt with everything he says because he doesn't have any credibility. He can only lie so long before people have had their fill of his form of misinformation. Healthcare repeal and replace was to happen on day one. Nothing but sabotage of Obamacare so far. Oddly enough the conservatives like the ACA better than Obamacare. Tax reform is going to follow the same path that repeal and replace did because of the GOP's lack of leadership and dysfunction. Day two of tax reform there are already conservatives in congress saying they won't support the bill. I suspect some of the lies put forth about the bill is a bridge too far for some in congress. Polls have very little meaning to me. I prefer to go on what my eyes and ears bring me. With trump I get nothing but RED FLAGS.

With Republicans in Congress

With Republicans in Congress going against Trump on his promises, the result will be even more support for Trump and less for Republican Party among Republicans. And I really hope that McCain, Paul, Corker, and Flake will vote based on the bill, not on their feuding with Trump.

How would congress know what to vote on

Trump can't stay on any course even when he sets the course. Fifteen minutes is considered a long time on course for Trump. Lucky for most of us congress can't work that fast. I have no idea how anybody could ever believe anything the President says. The truth is not his friend. You and I both know the only truthful politician is one who has been impacted personally by an event, that they were once against, or one who has announce they will not run again. I find it interesting even Republicans are fed up with Republicans. Seven years the mantra was repeal and replace. The Republicans caught the ACA car and didn't have a single viable answer. Astoundingly stupid politics. I see the tax bill heading down the same road.

Unfortunately, a truly

Unfortunately, a truly truthful person cannot become a politician because he or she will not be electable. People want to hear the good stories and promises rather than the truth. I also agree that “repealing” ACA was an incredibly stupid thing on the Republican side. But on the other hand, you have to admit that Trump is at least attempting to do what he promised to do: repeal Obamacare, cancel TPA and climate agreement, crack down on illegal immigration… some things are done but many are not but not because he didn’t try. And that is why, as I said, he is not blamed by Republicans…

Not Really

Trump is not "attempting to do what he promised to do". He promised better health care plans for less money.

Did I miss him proposing that? So far he just wants to trash the ACA and has no plan for replacement with a better plan for less money. His plan would cover fewer people, so how is that more for less? It's just less.

He's not interested in better, he just want to get rid of anything that Obama did.

Better health care was just

Better health care was just one of his many promises and it was not his fault that Republicans could not come up with a good legislation.


He's the President. Where is *his* proposal that he could have challenged his Republican Congress to pass?

I don’t know but it is

I don’t know but it is usually the Congress’ job to write the laws…

Trump’s problems as I see him

His number one problem is his Achilles heel. He doesn’t know how to lead. He has never had to lead before, he has only had to dictate.

He doesn't have a clue on how to work with others. He has had it his way his whole life. It is a real shock for him having to work with others to get what he wants. Unfortunately, this is a critical skill being the leader of a democracy. He wants to be a dictator.

As a leader he doesn’t have any empathy for others. On script, reading words others have written for him, I give him a D+. When he is off script I give him a massive F.

Lying comes easy for him because he has a life without any consequences. The worst thing his father ever did for him was give him X millions of dollars. The Mueller investigation may slow Trump’s lying, even if he is guilty of nothing. Seeing those around him, especially family members, fall may have an impact.

Trump’s ego needs continuous stroking. When he doesn’t get it from others, which is hard for others to do because of his style, he lays on the fiction based braggadocio to stroke his own ego.

There is no subtleness about him. Everything he does is in your face.

He has the attention span of a three-year-old.

I agree Washington has massive problems that need to be fixed. I just don’t see President Trump being the person able to do that because he excels at burning bridges, not building them. He has led an isolated life and that is the only way he is comfortable working, in isolation.

Unfortunately, Trump is not a

Unfortunately, Trump is not a paragon of virtue, as you have observed, but, on the other hand, as I said, he does try to fulfill his promises, which is rare for politicians… Maybe he is not the best man to change Washington but it is difficult to change anything when everyone is against you.


What recent President didn't try to fulfill his promises? I can't think of one.

You're setting the bar awfully low here.

Maybe I do but Trump is

Maybe I do but Trump is always accused of lying…

As has been pointed out

what we're seeing is the effect of polarization/tribalism.
With so many districts being dominated by one party, the primary becomes equivalent to the election. The primary 'electorate' is smaller and more extreme than the party as a whole, so we end up with government by extremes.
The (unlikely) answer is a fair redistricting to undo the effects of gerrymandering.

Please accept the result of the election

What Eric and other liberals overlook, is that Trump, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and conservative Evan McMullin received a combined 51.1 percent of the popular vote. Liberal Hillary Clinton and liberal extremist Jill Stein got a combined 48.2 percent. (Four fringe candidates split the remaining .7 percent.)

Trump's popular vote was diminished simply because there were credible conservative alternatives on the ballot. Had that not been the case, he clearly would have also won the popular vote. I think the time has come for Eric and his fellow liberals to accept this result. Obama's effete arrogance (pushing through the ACA without one Republican vote and issuing unilateral executive actions furthering his far-left agenda) were offensive to all except his 48.1 percent liberal base. But instead of belittling the president as liberals are doing (today's low-brow photo Alec Baldwin as Trump sitting on a toilet the latest effort), conservatives accepted the results of those elections, then worked (as conservatives do) to create a string of election successes that likely will continue into the 2018 U.S. Senate elections—not to mention countless state and local races.


"Trump's popular vote was diminished simply because there were credible conservative alternatives on the ballot." I know many libertarians. Few, if any, of them will self-identify as conservative. They will not vote rather than vote for a Republican.

"Obama's effete arrogance (pushing through the ACA without one Republican vote and issuing unilateral executive actions furthering his far-left agenda) were offensive to all except his 48.1 percent liberal base." That effete fellow "pushed through" the ACA in 2010 and was re-elected two years later. He left office with an approval rating of 59%, according to an aggregate of polls (that's almost the same percentage as disapprove of President Trump).

BTW, no one who approves of, or enables, President Trump has any call criticizing the personal character of President Obama. I'll take his "effete arrogance" over vulgar thuggery any day of the week.

"But instead of belittling the president as liberals are doing (today's low-brow photo Alec Baldwin as Trump sitting on a toilet the latest effort), conservatives accepted the results of those elections . . ." That is the biggest load of hooey I have read in years. Conservatives resented bitterly President Obama's election and did everything they could to deny the legitimacy of his presidency. Frankly, it is so absurd that it does not merit further refutation.

Many libertarians might not

Many libertarians might not have voted for Trump but they would not have voted for Clinton either. And McMullin’s voters could have voted for Trump but definitely not for Clinton. In any case, it would have changed the popular vote results in Trump’s favor.

“Conservatives resented bitterly President Obama's election” True, but they, for most part, did not get to the low level of the present day media behavior when trolling Trump is a heroic act and showing him a finger is praised as an act of defiance.

Acts of Heroes

"True, but they, for most part, did not get to the low level of the present day media behavior when trolling Trump is a heroic act and showing him a finger is praised as an act of defiance."

Joe Wilson called President Obama a liar during the State of the Union message. After his outburst, he raised nearly $3 million in campaign contributions, and became a star on conservative media and at Republican fundraisers.

Paul Ryan twiddled his thumbs while sitting on the rostrum during Obama's 2016 and final State of the Union address. He remains Speaker of the House.

Refusing a request to address a joint session of Congress, inviting a foreign leader to speak to Congress and deliver a tirade in opposition to the President's foreign policy, saying publicly that the "most important goal" is to make him a one-term President, etc., etc. These are members of Congress, showing behavior that is, at best disrespectful and getting rewarded for it.

But gee, whiz, that Alec Baldwin! How terrible he is!

Your examples are not

Your examples are not equivalents of what I was saying. My point was about the media, not politicians. But if you want to talk about politicians, that’s OK, too: Practically all Democrats are calling for Resistance and many are calling for impeachment and many did not come to the State of the State address and inauguration…

Many Did Not Come

Trump has given a speech to a joint session of Congress, but he has never made a State of the Union address. It is not unusual for rank-and-file members of the opposing party to skip the Presidential Inauguration.

"Practically all Democrats are calling for Resistance . . ." What did you expect members of the opposing party to do, when faced with a President promoting an agenda they oppose? "[A]nd many are calling for impeachment." Remember the unrelenting efforts of Republicans to impeach President Clinton for lying? Remember how much time and money that took? Now, it is evil for Democrats to call for impeachment?

“It is not unusual for

“It is not unusual for rank-and-file members of the opposing party to skip the Presidential Inauguration” But not brag about it and not so many…

“What did you expect members of the opposing party to do, when faced with a President promoting an agenda they oppose?” To just oppose him and not use the word that is reminiscent of Resistance to Nazis.

I think it wasn’t right for Republicans to insist on Clinton’s impeachment (and stupid, too) but at least Clinton did commit a crime at that time, however insignificant, inconsequential, and set up it was. Trump has not.

This Just In: Words Matter After All!

"To just oppose him and not use the word that is reminiscent of Resistance to Nazis." Given that Trump's "America First" slogan has a fraught history as the name of a group that opposed fighting Hitler, "resistance" seems like an apt term.l

Of course, I know that the response is always "What's wrong with putting your own country first?" One could likewise say that resistance is what converts the simple flow of energy into a usable type of energy. A good thing, right?

“Given that Trump's "America

“Given that Trump's "America First" slogan has a fraught history as the name of a group that opposed fighting Hitler, "resistance" seems like an apt term.” Absolutely not because resistance was what they did in Europe against Hitler, not in America against Lindbergh. In other words, resistance is an appropriate word in dealing with the enemy. Do you consider Trump, the lawful American President, your enemy? Words matter…

Well, Then

If you reject "Resistance" as an appropriate turn of phrase given the word's history, "America First" must similarly be anathema.

No, you can't have it both ways.

Not the word’s history but

Not the word’s history but the word’s meaning which doesn’t fit what is supposed to be happening in America now (unless, of course, as I said, you consider Trump your enemy). “America First” has some history but not specific meaning that doesn’t fit now.


No, don't recall any conservatives acceptation of Obama's win, what was the quote? "My Job is to make Obama a 1 term president". New quote, "my job is to make "T" a less than 1 term president, fair enough?
Sorry the vote dissection dosen't carry water, forgot the Russian influence factor, and the conman factor. What Obama has, integrity, humility, compassion, honesty, sensibility, trust, and vision, apparently something Republicans abhor! Guess we should have just let Hitler and his gang run wild, they won!
PS: The conservatives are still beating on the Clinton's over a quarter century later.

Please stop with that Hitler

Please stop with that Hitler comparison – it doesn’t make any sense…

I do accept the results of the last election

Trump is the President. He is just another Republican mess. Trump can't put two words together without one of the words being a lie. Remember during the campaign, "He alone could fix everything". Now this week, "It's all about him". He wants so bad to be an authoritarian dictator.

Not sure what you mean "conservatives accepted the results of those elections". Republicans never did accept President Obama. They couldn't even accept his birth certificate when they were shown it. Remember the Republican were known as the party of NO during President Obama's terms. Even if they were for it before, they had to be against it. Mitch McConnell said on day two of President Obama's presidency his only goal was to make sure President Obama was a one term president. Well, just like everything else the Republicans claim McConnell FAILED. Repeal and replace on day one - FAILED. We'll have healthcare that will help everyone, Republicans didn't have anything after SEVEN YEARS - FAILED I'll drain the swamp FAILED. It turns out Trump is the swamp.

I have a much higher expectation of America than we are currently getting.


So a 48% liberal base is not acceptable but a 33% reactionary one is?
Who were these "credible conservative alternatives on the ballot"?

Check the roster in Congress

Check the roster in Congress and the WH in DC.

The question was

Which credible conservative alternatives were on the ballot?
Your comment is not relevant to the question.

The credible conservative

The credible conservative alternatives constitute the majority of both houses of Congress. More credible conservatives will be joining them next year.

Few member of Congress

are presidential candidates.
That was the topic.

You seem a little too sure of yourself.

The one core tenet of politics has always been that when the pendulum swings too far one way, it always swings back harder. The Dems have a real chance at taking back the House next year. In 2020, the Senate map overwhelmingly favors Democrats.
As for "credible" conservatives, they seem to be retiring in droves.

Just wondering

Will it will be the same "effete arrogance" if Republicans manage to destroy the ACA without a single Democratic vote? Is it "effete arrogance" when Mr. Trump issues executive orders furthering his largely incoherent agenda? Also wondering, assuming you're correct about 2018, 2020, and countless subsequent elections, how I will be better off with Republicans running the show? Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy do nothing to improve my quality of life, nor do cuts in Medicare, nor do numerous other actions taken, as far as I can tell, without the approval of a single Congressional Democrat, and the picture is no prettier (might even be worse) at the state and local level.

What is incoherent about

What is incoherent about bringing jobs back to America, reducing illegal immigration, and making America the world leader again? I also believe it was Obama who praised his “phone and pen” first.

“without the approval of a single Congressional Democrat” I guess this is all Democrats have for how: Resist!

The goals

are coherent, if vague.
The means proposed to achieve them, if specified at all, are extremely vague.
A President cannot pass legislation, but he can suggest it. So far the Trumpies have done litle specific in that area.

Mr. Schoch referred to

Mr. Schoch referred to “incoherent agenda” which is goals… The means are supposed to be codified in laws passed by Congress.

I am no Trump lover

I am no Trump lover. Didn't vote for him and actually worked against him. But the election (which he won) is over and it's time for people to focus on what needs to be done to change things instead of constantly harping about the past.

MinnPost readers need to move on from their election shock. Unfortunately, Mr. Black watches a tv show (Putin on PBS) or gives his (often insightful) opinion on a poll or a speech and the same old comments come out again. He (Trump) is a racist (an overused word that has lost its meaning) or a misogynist (there are a few liberals in that category also). The most tiresome one is the old standby...he didn't win the popular vote. Well, first of all that wasn't the way the election was to be decided (so is not relevant) and if you throw out California (which is an interesting idea at times), Ms Clinton actually lost the popular vote. Then, it's that idiot Comey (can't disagree with him being an idiot) or the Ruskies or Facebook or what have you. Sorry, Ms. Clinton was a flawed candidate and losing to an individual like Trump shows how flawed she really was.

I agree with Mr. Edwards on many of his comments. I did not see the Alec Baldwin skit but that type of response might get a few guffaws but will not help win votes. I will always remember how I94 was closed down by protesters who didn't like the results of a lawful election. That won't win votes. The Democrats have been losing state legislatures and governors offices for several years. Is that Trump's fault or is it the fact that maybe the Party isn't really in touch?

If liberals (and/or progressives) continue with their diatribes and want to be identified as victims instead of focusing on appropriate policy issues that people can identify with and finding qualified candidates at all levels that people want to vote for, I'm worried that Mr. Edwards may be right.

And the more I read these type of comments to Mr. Black's commentaries, the more worried I become.

Well... not really

Mr. Edwards makes an interesting point, but Bernie Sanders is the most popular and trusted politician in the US by a strong margin. Meanwhile centrist Democrats (specially Hillary Clinton) remain quite unpopular. That's not to brag about Sanders, the point is a "leftist" politician wouldn't be THAT popular if the nation is as conservative as Edwards analysis suggests.

It's a statistical fallacy to claim that past results were the only possible results given alternate scenarios because the election only tested one scenario. It's also a fallacy to claim that election results represent a broad survey of opinion or attitudes because the political landscape is artificially constrained to a limited number of candidates. I think it's quite likely that Sanders would have defeated Trump by a larger margin than Trump defeated Clinton. In THAT scenario Edwards would have to concede that "liberals" got more votes than "conservatives".

If you look at individual issues ranging from abortion to immigration, education, gay rights, etc. you actually find that that a clear majority American's break liberal, regardless of election outcomes. A majority of Americans don't even support the Republican priority of cutting or "reforming" taxes, and THAT'S a bedrock conservative issue.

The only liberals have to worry about, is being less liberal than voters.

"Bernie Sanders is the most

"Bernie Sanders is the most popular and trusted politician in the US by a strong margin."

I'm hoping with all my might the DNC believes that...really, I am.

Who doesn't accept the

Who doesn't accept the election results?

What is not accepted is his actions as President.

So get over litigating 0.1 points of the election.

Face it--Trump is your President.

Every childish authoritarian bone in his body is yours and becomes more yours by not calling him to account for his actions and statements. The anti-constitutional authoritarian bent of conservatives is laid in the open every day through his un-refuted statements:

“We need quick justice, and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock."

“The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military,”

"Lemme tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”

Just another version of "L'Etat, c'est moi."

When it takes decades for

When it takes decades for terrorists to be convicted, when it takes decades to execute criminals sentenced to death, - that is a joke. And do you really think letting Bergdahl go is justice? As for the last quote, that’s unfortunately Trump being Trump, and not in a good sense.


Since when does it take "decades" for terrorists to be convicted?

The initial investigation of Sgt. Bergdahl, conducted by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, said jail time for him would be inappropriate. Gen. Dahl's team interviewed him at length, in person. President Trump, who has the ultimate authority over the military justice system, should have stayed out of it.

Respect for the rule of law has never been a Trump virtue. Except, of course, for the Bankruptcy Courts. Those are cool.

Couldn't agree more

Mr. Edwards is right on point here. I grew up in Western Wisconsin but now live in Texas. Here in Texas we have a legitimate Libertarian party which I once considered joining. In the last election cycle, I voted Libertarian in almost every state race but still voted for Trump in the Presidential contest. Full disclosure: I also voted for my Republican congressmen (Dr. Burgess) because his views and actions are very liberty-minded. I voted for Trump not because I liked him but because the two party system meant a vote for Gary Johnson was a partial vote for Hillary Clinton.
I have a few friends that voted for Gary Johnson that did so only because they knew Trump would carry Texas (I wasn't so sure) and so they voted their conscience. Most of them said they would have "held their noses and voted for Trump" like I did if the Texas vote was really in doubt.
Analyzing the Texas votes for 2012 and 2016 show that Trump got roughly 115,000 more votes than Romney did in 2012 but Gary Johnson picked up roughly 200,000 votes between 2012 and 2016. This almost quadrupled Johnson's 2012 vote total. In the official results, Trump won the popular vote by 807,179 votes. If you add Gary Johnson's votes to Trump's and Jill Stein's votes to Hillary's, the gap widens to 1,019,113 votes.
When you consider that Trump got blasted by Ted Cruz in the Presidential Primary in Texas with only 26% of the vote, you can tell that many of the 4.6million Texas voters that voted for Trump probably would have preferred someone else as long as it wasn't Hillary Clinton. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a race where it was so clear that those voting "for" a candidate were actually voting "against" a more objectionable one. Such is the state of American politics.

Selective history.

"Conservatives accepted the results of those elections"--an extremely funny line and not true.

Does that include birtherism, the Tea Party, endless racist jokes about the Obamas and relentless obstructionism in Congress? Does that include Senator McConnell's vow to make sure Obama only served one term? Does that include Donald Trump's search for the Obama birth certificate?

Yes, conservatives won a lot of elections--by gerrymandering, by voter suppression and a boatload of dark money. Not to mention the spreading of endless ridiculous conspiracy theories. And. let's not forget foreign interference in the 2016 elections.

"Effete arrogance"--better take a look at your boy Trump. Any complaints about the gusher of executive orders signed by the current occupant? "I am the only one that matters" says Trump--how's that for arrogance?

Don't like liberal ideas--I can live with that. Pretending conservatives have been reasonable and virtuous--give me a break.

Yes, conservatives won a lot

Yes, conservatives won a lot of elections--by gerrymandering, by voter suppression and a boatload of dark money. Not to mention the spreading of endless ridiculous conspiracy theories. And. let's not forget foreign interference in the 2016 elections.” Well, actually Democrats lost this election by having a bad candidate, no coherent and reasonable approach to the future, and worsening the situation in previous 8 years. As someone notes, Clinton spent almost twice as much as Trump so no “dark money” here. And what foreign interference? If anything, at was against the country, not against Clinton. As for conspiracy theories, there are plenty of them coming from the left as well…

“Any complaints about the gusher of executive orders signed by the current occupant?” What about the previous occupant – didn’t he start it with the phone and the pen?

“Don't like liberal ideas--I can live with that. Pretending conservatives have been reasonable and virtuous--give me a break.” I agree but that works the other way as well.

Worsening the situation?

Hello? Where were you from 2000 to 2008?

Did you miss those things called "The Wars in Afghanistan in Iraq," the thousands of dead young American soldiers and the 500,000 dead Iraqi civilians (as of a couple years ago), and the THREE TO SIX TRILLION DOLLAR price tag that ALL American households will be paying $75,000 to cover, now and into the future?

Did you miss the last decade's versions of Paul Ryan's (and Republican's "new") "tax cuts for the middle class"?

Did you miss the ballooning of the deficit and the doubling of the national debt under Bush (after inheriting a $ZERO budget deficit AND a budget SURPLUS from the previous administration)?

Did you miss that little thing called "The Great Recession?"

Did you miss those 750,000 jobs per month being lost at the end of Bush's last term in office and his $750 BILLION "bailout" of the banks?

Did you miss all the "little people" losing their health insurance, their retirement money, their bankruptcies and home foreclosures?

Democrats lost the election by "worsening the situation in previous 8 years"?

Please . . . Try . . . To . . . Get . . . A . . . Grip!

Your public re-writing of history and refusal (or inability) to deal with facts (seven or eight straight years of economic growth, steadily decreasing and now lowest unemployment rate in decades -- 4.1 percent last month, for just two examples) in order to make things fit whatever your "personal belief system" compels you to gets to be a little too much sometimes.

Neither Democrats nor Barack Obama worsened the situation over the past eight years. You are completely incorrect, wrong, off-base and making things up when you say things like that . . . When you refuse to acknowledge what the situation was (see above) at the STARTING point of that "previous 8 years," all you're doing is communicating prejudiced fantasy in what appears to be an ongoing attempt to "prove" the unprovable.

And, while we're at it . . .

"Yes, conservatives won a lot of elections--by gerrymandering, by voter suppression and a boatload of dark money. Not to mention the spreading of endless ridiculous conspiracy theories. And. let's not forget foreign interference in the 2016 elections."

But, somehow, you tell yourself (and everyone else), that's okay because "Democrats had a bad candidate" and, in your opinion, "no reasonable approach to the future" and, of course, they "worsened the situation in the previous 8 years."

In other words, you appear to be believe and be saying that gerrymandering, voter suppression, a boatload of dark money, spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories and foreign interference is excusable and acceptable and equal to a bad candidate, no reasonable approach to the future and making an (undefined) situation worse.

I don't know if you're aware of it or not, but just in case you've never heard the term or informed yourself of it's meaning, it goes like this:

"False equivalence is a logical fallacy in which two opposing arguments appear to be logically equivalent when in fact they are not. This fallacy is categorized as a fallacy of inconsistency."

You may want to take that into consideration when contemplating and putting together future comments.

Afghanistan and Iraq wars:

Afghanistan and Iraq wars: You seem to miss 9/11 before that and the fact that bin Laden was based in Afghanistan. You also seem to miss the fact that most Democrats (including Clinton, by the way) voted for Iraq war.

“doubling of the national debt under Bush” Actually, it was Obama who almost doubled it

“Did you miss that little thing called "The Great Recession?" Capitalist economy goes in cycles…

“Democrats lost the election by "worsening the situation in previous 8 years"? Please . . . Try . . . To . . . Get . . . A . . . Grip!” Did you forget half a million people dead in Syria? Refugee crisis in Europe? Increased terrorism everywhere? ISIS? Russia running amok in the world? North Korea threatening LA and SF? Worsening racial relations in America? “Jobless” recovery? Governing by phone and pen?

“"Yes, conservatives won a lot of elections--by gerrymandering, by voter suppression and a boatload of dark money. Not to mention the spreading of endless ridiculous conspiracy theories. And. let's not forget foreign interference in the 2016 elections." But, somehow, you tell yourself (and everyone else), that's okay” No, you misunderstood me. I did not say it was OK; I said it either didn’t happen (dark money or voter suppression) or did not affect the election (foreign interference, for example).

No, I didn't miss 9/11

But, apparently, you missed Tora Bora. Do a search on "the battle of Tora Bora," read the accounts of what happened and you might notice that the "war on terror" would have been over within 90 days of 9/11 because Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda would have been eliminated if your buddies in the White House had any military brains, or they weren't so bent on invading Iraq.

And when it comes to ISIS, all those dead people in Syria, Russians running amok, millions of people fleeing and trying not to get bombed to death, along with everything else war-related you blame on Obama, do another search on "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Bin Laden Al Qaeda ISIS and Iraq" and, if you can stand it, do a little reading.

And, if you've got an hour and you're able to watch video on your computer, go here . . .

. . . read a little more, watch the episode and try to pay attention.

Please try to notice that Abu al-Zarqawi was:

A) the founder of ISIS;

B) the person whose strategy tore Iraq apart (as part of his plan to establish the ISIS caliphate);

C) that he too could have been eliminated in 2003 if the Bush administration had listened to the Central Intelligence Agency instead of listening to themselves and making the same kind of incompetent military (or cynical political) decision they made about Tora Bora; and

D) al-Zarqawi died in 2006 which was two years before Barack Obama was elected (and five years before Osama Bin Laden was finally tracked down and killed in May of 2011 when the administration of the person you're calling an idiot was doing the tracking and making the decisions).

If you do those things and you have any ability to be honest with yourself, there's a fair chance you might be able to see that everything you're blaming on Obama stems from the monumentally incompetent military decision-making -- or the worst kind of political cynicism -- on the part of the Busn administration and almost nothing to do with whatever it is you've got going on in your imagination.

And, speaking of that, since it seems you don't think (or don't remember) that anything except 9/11 happened before 2008 -- and you're so convinced that every horrendous thing happening in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria was caused by Obama -- tell me what you would have done differently.

What would YOU have done if you had been elected instead of him in 2008?

Tora Bora: Do you want to say

Tora Bora: Do you want to say that Bush didn’t want to kill bin Laden because he wanted to invade Iraq? I can’t see any connection here so please explain. On the other hand, I would say that tactical operations are conducted under command of generals, not Presidents.

Al-Zarquawi and ISIS: same thing – are you saying Bush spared his life to make it more difficult for Obama? Or for what? And yes, this guy died (actually, he was killed by American forces in Iraq which would not have been there if Bush didn’t send them there and most Democrats didn’t support his decision) in 2006 and ISIS was nothing then and then Obama called it a JV and soon after it flourished.

Let alone that all of the above has nothing to do with Syria, Libya, Russia, Crimea, North Korea, etc. Obama had 8 years to make things worse and he did…

Credible conservatives

The popularity of Trump over the Republican Party among "self-identified Republicans" and the other polling results mentioned in Eric's piece can no longer be explained by what "conservative", "center" or "liberal" even mean any more. I've long believed that the political spectrum can be better understood as a circle rather than the horizontal line model which is common currency in the media and public discourse. The line model places conservatives on the rightish side of the spectrum-line, centrists or independents in the middle and "liberals" on the leftish side. That model begins to break down when you place Democrats among the "leftists" and Republicans among the "rightists" even while it helps to understand or explain general political realities and alignments. We've come to lump liberals among "leftists" without regard to whether they're Blue Dog Democrats, Centrist democrats, Social Democrats, Socialists and Communists and conservatives among the Klan, the John Birch Society and the Nazi party.

The model completely breaks down when, at some point, those who identify with the radical ends of the spectrum at either end share more in common with one another than with the others on th spectrum. A linear spectrum no longer describes that mental picture of political alignment. A circle, resembling a a snake biting its own tail, better describes the relationship between elements on a political spectrum each in their own way looking to tear down an existing order, like the Bolshevik or Anarchist movements, without really any practical plan, vision or idea of anything for a replacement. I read recently retired Speaker John Boehner's assessment of the Freedom caucus leaders in Congress who pretty much fill that description of Nihilists or Anarchists who just want to "blow everything up" figuratively speaking.

Today's right and their new populist elements have a lot in common with the Communist extremism left of the 1920's and 1930's. What defines them is their contempt for the rule of law. As their titular leader, President Trump defines this contempt for this new so-called "conservative" group of Republicans. Trump and his appointed bunch cronies have not been " faithfully execut[ing] the Office of President of the United States, and . . . to the best of [their] Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'' Those elements of Congress like the Freedom Caucus ( and their allies in the Senate) have shown only marginal interest in calling this out. By their silence, they are advocating their approval. Trump's support among his faithful reflects this growing contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution among a growing sector of the population who only measure success by election results and pulling the wool over the eyes of their fellow Americans.

You Had Me Until that Last Bit

Mr. Kingstad,

I read your first two paragraphs nodding my head. The political spectrum is indeed circular or perhaps cylindrical if you were to model it in three dimensions. When you get far enough to the right you find yourself on the left but usually for different reasons. For example, I have the very libertarian viewpoint that the government doesn't have the right to tell people what they can and can't do to their bodies. So even though I strongly believe in limited government and strict adherence to the Constitution, I align myself with those that support legalizing marijuana, abortion(with some limits), and gay rights to marriage. The first two ideals would brand me as a Conservative and the last three a Liberal.

Where you lost me was in using Boehner's description of the Freedom Caucus. Boehner was the ultimate establishment politician who routinely cut deals with Obama as long as it maintained the status quo. The Freedom Caucus doesn't describe themselves as "anarchists." That's Boehner's view of them. He hated them because of their staunch refusal to "play ball" and join in with his deals. Boehner epitomized what the Republican party has become, a party of old white men clinging to power no matter what the cost. They will disagree with Democrats in public and then go behind closed doors and cook up a deal that works for both parties but usually costs taxpayers millions.

The last paragraph really goes off the rails particularly the comment about "contempt for the rule of law." Most of the Freedom Caucus shares the Tea Party ideal of strict adherence to the Constitution. This hardly makes them anarchists. Justin Amash, one of its members, was one of the first Republicans to support impeachment of Trump should Mueller's investigation provide any evidence and is continual critic of Trumps. Here is a link.
Trump is New York Republican who was a Democrat earlier in life. On the aforementioned political spectrum, Trump is hardly close to the Freedom Caucus and both he and the congressmen are pretty vocal about that. He has threatened them and they have stood their ground. Depending on the Mueller investigation, Trump may not last out his term. Depending on the 2018 mid-terms, the Freedom Caucus may get bigger or smaller. Either way, the rule of law will prevail.

Rule of law

The rule of law is not the same as "originalism" which is hat I think you are referring to. "Originalism" is an incoherent, made up doctrine of constitutional interpretation that supports whatever gibberish the believer wants it to mean. In the end, it means anarchy because the Constitution is not an icon, frozen in the late 18th century that straightjackets the government. It is a living, organic document that acts as a guide just as it imposes some restraints in dealing with its citizens.

The rule of law means enforcement of the Constitution as interpreted by the highest court of the land whether you agree with it or not, as well as the Acts of Congress and even the bureaucratic regulations you disagree with until they are repealed or modified according to the same "rules of law."

You're right about Boehner and I don't consider him any sort of paragon. Still, he was at least committed to keeping the government operating and he (and the rest of us in the country) became a hostage to the extremist views of the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus. Boehner was at a loss trying to understand what these people wanted and so am I. They have no coherent views or plans. I'm not sure what "deals" he cooked up that cost taxpayers millions. No elected member of Congress in the Republican party has backed any sort of tax increase since George H.W. Bush to my knowledge.

It's nice to know that at least one member of the Freedom Caucus is not prepared to scuttle Mueller's investigation. I'm not so sure about the rest or any of the Republicans in Congress. I'm suspecting that they will, it it serves their purposes and as long as they believe Trump is of use them. Meanwhile, the Freedom Caucus has no problem with seeing a Judge Roy Moore getting elected, even if he's not particularly favored by Trump. Today, that is.

If my comments seem to go "off the rails" maybe it's because the Freedom Caucus and their ilk have long gone "off the rails". Following what's orthodox on the right is like trying to keep track of the "party line" from Moscow during the Stalin regime. How does anyone make sense of Senators like Corker and Flake who are not running for reelection because of the threat from those in their party who consider them "not conservative enough" because they only supported Trump 90% of the time? The "Freedom Caucus" represents a subset of confused individuals who really are anarchists or nihilists but don't know it. They pose a greater threat to the rule of law and our constitutional republic/democracy as the Communists were supposed to have done in the 1940's and 1950's.

The circle representation of

The circle representation of the political spectrum has always been my idea as well so I am glad we all can agree on it (I am also closer to libertarian views, similar to Mr. Gotliebson, rather than conservative). So the last paragraph is what looked strange to me. If anything, we should be talking about Sanders and his socialist supporters who are closing the circle from the left, not the Tea Party. Historically, it is much more likely that the people from the left will start breaking the law.


Libertarianism is nothing more than the hubris of late stage capitialism in decline. It literally cannot exist but for parasitizing a previously established, stable, democratically socialist society. Think of all the tenets of libertarianism to which you subscribe, then imagine applying them to a society rent by social unrest, or gripped in decades long economic hardship. Dictatorship is inevitable. Its inevitable when applied to a society such as ours as well, it just takes longer to overcome the inertia of stability created by what had come before. Its only appeal is in the personal gain obtained by it less than noble adherents while they send the noble ones (and everyone else) down the shaft. Had Libertarianism arose during our species early development, we'd be extinct.

All the evidence we have are the latest ...

polls as affected by our own opinions. I have no doubt if anything that the pollsters could be gun shy from the election are interpreting their data much more conservatively and therefore what we see reported for potus and the gop may be actually much worse then it really could be. The benefit of the doubt is going to the winner as it were. Of course this might be my own personal Hawthorne effect. Furthermore I do not have a pac. However from all the reporting sources things are pretty bad for those in power. Ms Brazile’s book might just unite the DNC into a force we have not seen in recent history. We will see.

Libertarians are NOT conservatives

They're as likely to vote Democrat as Republican.
They -certainly- would not favor an authoritarian like Trump.

But they would rather have

But they would rather have another Scalia than another Sotomayor…


Scalia did a lot more 'legislating from the bench' than Sotomayor.
Most Libertarians would rather not favor corporations over individuals, much less conflate the two.


Even my conservative friends consider me libertarian leaning: Point being, freedom "liberty" is more important than money. Far more appreciative with lefty's "liberals" more rights, than conservatives "less rights.

I consider myself a

I consider myself a libertarian leaning – and I would definitely prefer Scalia.

Not 'likely' John...

Millennials do not see it that way and they are the future of this Country, not the stilted, change is a four-letter word, do it as we always have been doing it, non-thinking, short attention span 2016 voters which Republicans hang their hat on.

Statistically, the older

Statistically, the older people get, the more conservative they become.


direct me two that statistic.
What is it based on?