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Is Donald Trump still really that popular?

Everything indicates yes!

Recent polls show that the race would be tight if Joe Biden were to face Donald Trump again.

For example, according to a poll conducted by the Marquette University School of Law (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) in mid-March, the two politicians each received 38% of the voting intentions.

Moreover, among the Republicans, among all the declared or potential contenders, Donald Trump enjoys a comfortable lead. His closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is far behind him.

Well, obviously, there is more than a year and a half before the next presidential election. Let us be careful in interpreting this data. But it seems obvious that the popularity of Donald Trump is still a very real phenomenon.

Many analysts even believe that his recent indictment – ​​a first for a US president – ​​could boost public opinion rather than hurt him.

It seems clear that the split in American society is one of the fundamental factors that explain this phenomenon. Never has the country been so divided since the days of the Civil War.

The so-called “emotional” divide is very high in the United States. And one of its effects is that feelings about the group you identify with — the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, in this case — tend to be very, very favorable.

Conversely, you are very likely to develop an aversion to the other group. Thus, the more Democrats denounce Donald Trump, the more Republicans will tend to defend him with passion.

“Trump continues to rise in the polls in part because the charges that have been brought against him by the Manhattan prosecutor” provoke among Republicans a reaction which “goes in this direction”, explains the holder of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Studies Strategic and Diplomatic Programs of UQAM, Frédérick Gagnon.

He believes that, in the wake of the indictment, Republicans are saying to themselves, “More Democrats who want to do everything to prevent Trump from saving America!” »

But that doesn’t fully explain why the former president still enjoys strong support within the Republican Party itself.

Many of Donald Trump’s ideas, some of which do not fit Republican orthodoxy, appeal to a lot of people. The fact that he flirts with isolationism on the international scene and that he has made protectionism a priority is not unrelated to his successes.

He also won over many Republicans with his skillful disparagement of his country’s democratic institutions at a time when trust in them had collapsed.

It should also be noted that a study by Lilliana Mason, Julie Wronski and John V. Kane, published in the American Political Science Review in 2021, demonstrated that the “inflammatory rhetoric” used by Donald Trump against minority groups associated with the Democrats has galvanized Americans who held animosity toward these groups (such as African Americans and Muslims).

“There is a lot of identity and economic insecurity in this country, especially within the white community. There is this idea that phenomena that we did not see before threaten to transform the country, ”says Frédérick Gagnon, citing for example what is called “wokism”.

“A lot of very conservative people see this as a kind of threat to society,” he says. Trump and DeSantis are trying to capitalize on this move by saying we’re gonna save the country. »

And let’s not forget that Donald Trump enjoys a decisive advantage among the Republicans: hardly anyone in the party dares to criticize him.

It’s a vicious circle. Republican politicians don’t want to risk alienating Donald Trump’s base. They see their political future as tied to their loyalty to the former president.

So they keep praising him, no matter what he does or what he says. And it doesn’t matter what trouble he gets into.

In these circumstances, it is all the more difficult for his rivals to outdo him.