Donald Trump has responded to his dismal approval ratings by throwing more and more red meat to his base.
With his controversial comments on the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, his pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and now potentially his sunsetting of a popular program that gave young unauthorized immigrants work permits, the president seems increasingly focused on pleasing the 37 percent or so of the public that approves of him, rather than reaching out to any of the 57 percent who disapprove.
It’s an odd way of responding to his unpopularity. The conventional political advice for what he should do to improve such poor numbers would be to try to change his image and win over voters who’ve turned against him.
Furthermore, Trump’s base already loves him — the vast majority of Republican voters continue to say they approve of the job he’s doing. If he already has his base, why, then, does he need to keep doing new things that please them but repel the majority of the public?
Of course, as with anything involving Trump, it’s a mistake to assume there’s a strategic master plan here. Instinct, emotion, and his own personal preferences all likely play a role in his choices.
But it is possible to come up with a strategic justification — or at least some potential strategic benefits — to Trump’s recent behavior. Here’s the best case for what may seem like a puzzling political strategy.
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