Will Trump voters ever wake up and realize they’ve been duped like the students of Trump University did? My answer is no. Because those who voted for him have concocted this delusional fantasy of the U.S. as a dystopian hellhole so far gone that they had to elect him even if he wasn’t very presidential. Anybody who can do that can also delude themselves that the media is all wrong and the country is now getting better because of him or isn’t because of obstruction. They aren’t just going to “get it” all of a sudden. Not most of them. Maybe some. Those that do might still get their backs up and be reticent to admit they made a mistake. Either way don’t count on that 60,000,000 souls to do the right thing. Not day 100, day 200, or year 4 if we get there.
Since the 2016 election, however, the two kinds of data have diverged, with reported confidence surging — and, yes, a bump in stocks — but no real sign of a pickup in economic activity.
The funny thing about that confidence surge, however, was that it was very much along partisan lines — a sharp decline among Democrats, but a huge rise among Republicans. This raises the obvious question: Were those reporting a huge increase in optimism really feeling that much better about their economic prospects, or were they simply using the survey as an opportunity to affirm the rightness of their vote?
Yeah, without the black man in the WH, things got a lot better fast. Trump said it would. His followers believe it. Although, it’s not like they went out to buy a refrigerator or a car because they believe in the economy. Just saying you are more optimistic doesn’t actually change things unless you spend money. Lord knows government is not spending more money, not even on the wall. So first quarter GDP growth was an abysmal .7%. A far cry from his promised 4%, which he might achieve eventually, although it’s highly unlikely, but clearly what people are saying and what they’re doing are two different things – like some of the 2016 polls?
One basic principle I’ve learned in my years at The Times is that almost nobody ever admits being wrong about anything — and the wronger they were, the less willing they are to concede error….
Now think about what it means to have voted for Trump. The news media spent much of the campaign indulging in an orgy of false equivalence; nonetheless, most voters probably got the message that the political/media establishment considered Trump ignorant and temperamentally unqualified to be president. So the Trump vote had a strong element of: “Ha! You elites think you’re so smart? We’ll show you!”
His voters love that. It’s a finger in the eye to the establishment, the educated, the thinking people who think they’re better than they are. Nobody uses identity politics more than the GOP and the right wing noise machine. The constant message is “we’re the real Americans” they’re not just wrong, they’re bad people. But even those who haven’t been sucked deeply into that right wing resentment vortex, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of fail by Trump, probably involving their own lives (like if they lost their healthcare coverage or saw their job get offshored) for them to back away.
And at that point, Krugman notes, people don’t admit they were wrong, no they revise history. A whole bunch of people will be claiming to have voted for Gary Johnson by 2018.