Donald Trump’s Negatives Could Go Up…Or Down

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Greg Sargent channels the conventional wisdom that Hillary Clinton’s negatives are old and baked into the cake, while Donald Trump’s could get even worse than they are now:

[Hillary Clinton] has been subjected to intense scrutiny for over two decades. Note that Trump’s attacks on her are largely rehashes: He’s going after Bill Clinton’s affairs and Hillary Clinton’s alleged role in “enabling” them….While it’s possible that a renewed focus on all these things could damage Clinton further, it’s more likely that they will accomplish little, because they don’t represent new information.

By contrast, we simply don’t know yet what is out there in the record on Trump….One Dem opposition researcher has estimated that approximately 80 percent of negative stuff out there on Trump has yet to surface publicly — and they continue to do so. Which means it’s possible that Trump’s negatives have more room to grow (as preposterous as that might seem) than Clinton’s do.

This seems like the right way to bet, but I’m a little less sure. On the Hillary side, negatives that are widely accepted can actually be easier to confirm than new ones. If Trump keeps banging away on “Corrupt Hillary,” a lot of people might start remembering all that old stuff that they’d forgotten about during the past decade. And this could be easier than we think, since there are also a substantial group of Bernie supporters these days who are doing everything they can to help this narrative along.

On the Trump side, yes, his negatives have room to grow. But the opposite is true too. If a lot of people haven’t really been paying attention to the campaign yet, it’s quite possible that they might decide the guy isn’t really as bad as rumors have it. Sure, he’s not entirely PC, but he speaks his mind! He’s going to bring back jobs from China! He’s a man of the people!

Then again, maybe they’ll eventually figure out that he’s just another plutocrat Republican who plans to cut the hell out of tax rates for the rich, something a lot of people apparently don’t believe yet. But that’s not a certainty. For some reason, voters and pundits alike seem to give Republicans a pass on their tax plans, shrugging them off more as totems than as actual intentions.

In other words: I don’t know. This is not a normal year and Trump is not a normal candidate. But there’s one more thing to point out: if Pollster’s algorithms are to be believed, Trump’s negatives are actually about the same as Hillary’s and they’re both trending upward at about the same slow but steady rate. The only real difference is that Trump’s ratings are more variable than Hillary’s. This isn’t necessarily good news for Democrats.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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