One year on, Trump voters still loyal to scandal-plagued president

One year on, Trump voters still loyal to scandal-plagued president

Some 85 percent who cast ballots for him would do so again, according to Reuters survey, despite plunging approval rating and chaotic year in office

A small group of supporters of Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower to mark the first year of Donald Trump's presidency on November 8, 2017 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
A small group of supporters of Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower to mark the first year of Donald Trump's presidency on November 8, 2017 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Nearly all people who voted for US President Donald Trump a year ago would do so again today, a poll released Wednesday showed, highlighting the polarizing head of state’s ability to maintain his base of support despite a plunging approval rating.

The Reuters/Ipsos survey, conducted in October, found some 85 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2016 said they would still vote for him were the election held today.

The numbers indicated that despite a series of scandals and gaffes — including allegations of support for white supremacists, bickering with war widows, an investigation into campaign ties to Russia, a White House seen as beset by chaos, and more — the president’s backers remain loyal and may continue to be should he run for election in three years.

China’s President Xi Jinping, left, and US President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. (AFP/ FRED DUFOUR)

The poll, released a day after Republicans lost several races across the country, also found that Trump is more popular among voters than those who did not vote for any candidate in 2016, indicating that his renegade political camp may have more support than the GOP establishment.

Among Republicans, 82% of voters approve of Trump, but the number drops to 77% when including all Republicans. Among the general population, 44% of voters approve of the president, but the figure shrinks to 37% if including non-voters as well.

Placards are prepared as activists and protesters gather in Pershing Square before marching to protest the one year anniversary of the election of US President Donald Trump in downtown Los Angeles, California on November 8, 2017 (AFP/FREDERIC J. BROWN)

A Gallup poll earlier this week found Trump’s approval rating at 33%, the lowest of his presidency.

The Reuters/Ipsos results were released a year after Trump won the White House in what many saw as a shocking upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton, exposing deep divides between conservative and liberal Americans.

Trump on Wednesday tweeted his thanks and congratulations to the millions of Americans who elected him president, including the “deplorables” criticized by Clinton during their toxic campaign.

“Congratulations to all of the ‘DEPLORABLES’ and the millions of people who gave us a MASSIVE (304-227) Electoral College landslide victory!” Trump posted on Twitter from China, where he is in the midst of his nearly two-week trip to Asia.

The tweet included a photograph apparently taken aboard Air Force One, showing Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and several aides — White House communications director Hope Hicks, senior policy advisor Stephen Miller and social media director Dan Scavino — giving thumbs-up signs.

In a speech on September 10, 2016, Clinton derided many Trump supporters as “deplorables,” and the president’s backers have since embraced the term.

Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam greets supporters at an election night rally November 7, 2017 in Fairfax, Virginia. Northam defeated Republican candidate Ed Gillespie. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images via JTA)

The tweet from Trump came a day Democrats managed to sweep several state and local contests across the country, in what many saw as a rebuke of the unpopular president’s policies and brash governing style.

However, analysts and Trump himself have pointed out that some candidates, particularly Virginia gubernatorial also-ran Ed Gillespie, shunned the president, and the poll results seemed to indicate that Republican candidates would do better if they stick with him, despite misgivings.

Charting the course forward after Tuesday’s drubbing was on the minds of Republican leaders in speeches around the US Wednesday, with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel calling on Republicans to come together, while former White House strategist Steve Bannon maintained an aggressive tone toward any in the GOP who would stand in the president’s way.

Their remarks in Iowa and Michigan underscored the tension bubbling over in Washington.

“Let me tell you, there is a stark difference between the worst Republican and the best Democrat,” Spicer said during the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines.

Spicer lamented Republicans in Virginia who decided not to vote Tuesday for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie because he didn’t pass their “litmus tests.”

Bannon, meanwhile, took aim at veteran Republican lawmakers and entrenched party insiders, whom he has pledged to root out of the Senate next year. He grouped Gillespie — a lobbyist, former RNC chairman and adviser to former President George W. Bush — with the GOP forces of old.

Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, speaks at the Macomb County Republican Party dinner in Warren, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP/Paul Sancya)

Trump needs more outsiders at his side, Bannon said.

“He’s had some victories. He’s had some defeats,” Bannon said of Trump. “Most of the defeats are because the Republican establishment cannot execute on the plan.”

Bannon spoke at a Republican dinner in Macomb County, Michigan, a working-class Detroit suburb which former President Barack Obama carried twice but where Trump handily beat Clinton last year.

Despite Trump’s low approval ratings, McDaniel, who also spoke at the Iowa banquet, painted an optimistic picture of the economy, touted record party fundraising and said, “I feel very confident in the candidates I see running across the country.”

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