I've written previously that it's quite amazing that the presidential election is even competitive, given all of Pres. Trump's problems and the deep hatred so many people feel toward him. I also have written previously that I don't believe Trump can win just with his very loyal and vocal base.
He also needs mainstream Republicans (like me) to vote for him. He needs Republicans and independents who don't like him personally, who are put off by his tone, narcissism and frequent fibbing, but who do like a lot of his policies, his judicial appointments, his unabashed pro-life views, and his genuine accomplishments -- and who also can't stand the thought of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer taking over the federal government.
Trump needs Republicans and independents who would never show up at a Trump rally, who wouldn't wear a MAGA hat, and who watch Fox News only as entertainment, knowing there's a lot of exaggeration and conspiracy stuff going on there (as there also is with CNN and NBC).
In addition to mainstream Republicans, I'm also starting to believe that Trump needs some of those so-called "secret" Trump voters whose views don't show up in opinion polling. Do those shy souls really exist? Are there citizens who don't dare voice support of Trump in polite company, but will vote for him in private?
I'm starting to think that quite a few of those folks are out there, skulking in the shadows. They're being pushed, a little reluctantly in many cases, into Trump's arms by the rioting and violence in America's cities, by the "cancel culture," by the attacks by liberal Democrats on old-fashioned values, traditional patriotism, and America's historical heroes. They support law enforcement and don't believe police departments or society in general are "systemically racist." They're confused about race relations and "white privilege." They don't feel like they're racist, but they don't even know how (or don't dare) to talk about it for fear of saying something wrong in our ultra-politically correct world. They can't quite bring themselves to feel guilty about the sins of their forefathers.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was invited to speak before a service club -- mostly older men, mostly retired, professional people. Asked about the presidential race, I offered what I thought was an even-handed analysis. I told them I was a mainstream Republican and while I didn't like a lot about Trump, I also felt some of his policies were successful.
A very outspoken fellow took strong issue that Trump had any redeeming qualities. He said Trump was destroying the country, was an immoral bigot and congenital liar, and the country is doomed if he is re-elected. He exhibited a visceral hatred of Trump. No one else made a comment.
But while walking to my car, two people walked part way with me and said they entirely agreed with my views about Trump. They cringe at some of the things he does and says, but they think he is effective and better reflects their values in his policies, if not in his personal life.
How many of those people exist? And are their views reflected in current polling? That will make all the difference on election day.
Reader response. Dean C. Dinas wrote me a nice note about a recent Webb's Wrap: "Great observations, and timely focus, as nearly always. I'm from Brooklyn, NY, but here in Salt Lake County 27 years. You are the longest standing Socio-Political pragmatist in the region, among Mass Media mouthpieces." I'm not sure which is better, Mr. Dinas' compliment, or his clever alliteration.
Parting shot. Advice to politicians: Remember that politics, on some level, is just a game. It's actually a lot more than a game. It's taxes and coercion, war and peace, life and death. But if you aren't able to be a little detached and view it as a game, you'll be consumed by it. You will lose perspective, won't know what your constituents want, and will made bad decisions. Remember, it's just a game.