The New York Times has published a very handy timeline of quotes from Donald Trump and how those quotes have affected his support among Republican party politicians and supporters. It shows that currently there are at least 100 Republican Party leaders who have publicly declared they will not vote for Trump. Of these 110 listed, 27 have stated their intention to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump has seemingly made moves recently to broaden his appeal. He continues to reach out to minority voters. He has softened his stance on deportation of illegal immigrants. Who knows if any of these measures will actually result in more votes come election day, but he has rebounded in the polls in the past week. But this NY Times list represents the problem that Donald Trump has and will continue to have as the election draws near: not everyone is easily manipulable.
Donald Trump thinks he can manipulate voters. He’s said as much at least two times:
To the New York Times he said about his campaign events,
“You know, if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.”
And he’s right. Many voters, and not just Trump supporters, are easily manipulated. They are too partisan in their beliefs or too ignorant in their beliefs, or both, to knowledgeably consume and understand political events and rhetoric. They support Trump either because they like him and what he says or because he is the alternative to Hillary Clinton. It could be argued that many Republican leaders fall into this latter category. They don’t actually like Trump but they don’t like Democrats even more.
But there is an important and crucial difference between these two categories. Each are manipulable but for very different reasons. The first category simply likes Donald Trump and will support him no matter what he says. These people fall into what many have deemed the “Cult of Trump”. The second group doesn’t necessarily like Donald Trump but will vote for him because he is the Republican presidential nominee. They vote because he is Republican, either just to defeat Democrats or to also stabilize the Republican Party. That is to say Trump is what they have and must be supported as such.
However, those listed by the New York Times fall into neither category. They are not mesmerized by Trump and whatever he says. They believe what he says is destabilizing and bad for the Republican Party. Why profit from short-term gains when the long-term consequences are potentially dire?
Many of these 110 may very well change their minds closer to the election, either through Trump’s actions or because they believe it to be in the party’s best interest. Conversely, the list may grow. It is telling that almost 1/4 of those listed have not simply withdrawn their support for Trump, they are now supporting Hillary Clinton.
It is one thing to stay home, it is another to vote for the opposition., especially when your actions have the ability to influence others.