Where the GOP Base is

Okay, so Corey Stewart, a VA Republican Gubernatorial candidate trying to out-Trump Trump, did not quite win on Tuesday.  But he came damn close on his explicitly backward, nativist appeal.  From the Post:

Stewart, the Prince William County Board chairman, did dramatically better than polls had projected and underlined the depth of support for Trump in the GOP. He wouldn’t concede and said he wouldn’t help Gillespie in the fall, making Gillespie’s road more uncertain.

“We’ve been backing down too long,” Stewart told cheering supporters Tuesday night. “We’ve been backing down too long in defense of our culture, and our heritage and our country.” [emphasis mine]

By contrast, Stewart outperformed expectations by pursuing the same brash, aggressive style as Trump. He went out of his way to challenge “political correctness” by defending preservation of Confederate monuments.

Some Republicans said they opted for Stewart as a way to show their distaste for more traditional Virginia Republicans.

“Gillespie is part of the establishment, and we’re trying to get rid of it, like we’re trying to do with Trump,” said Joe Thornlow, 64, a retiree who lives in Gainesville in Prince William County.

Just so we’re clear, that means Southern, white culture and heritage.  A distinctive feature of which, of course, is white supremacy.

Jamelle Bouie weighs in here, too:

The candidate who nearly toppled Gillespie, in a near-upset that would have upended the gubernatorial race, is Corey Stewart, the Minnesota-born conservative whose slogan—“Take Back Virginia”—captured the core of his campaign. He was running as a voice for Trumpism, railing against “illegal immigration,” condemning “transgender bathrooms,” slamming Gillespie as a “cuckservative,” and centering his campaign on an aggressive defense of the state’s Confederate monuments and memorials. Holding rallies at sites like the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Stewart marched with neo-Confederates and leaned on Confederate iconography. He was running a campaign for an older, whiter Virginia, one that seeks to wrest the state away from its growing majority of immigrants, black Americans, and liberal college-educated whites. And he doesn’t intend to reconcile himself to Gillespie’s win. “This fight will continue, and I’ll continue to fight as long as you’ll fight with me,” said Stewartin the wake of his defeat. “There’s one word you’ll never hear from me, and that’s ‘unity.’ ” …

Factor in the larger political landscape—from the explicit embrace of white racial resentment to the rise of performative outrage (also known as trolling) as a mode of conservative politics—and Corey Stewart’s surprise showing is much easier to understand. A vessel for xenophobia, political extremism, and white reaction, Stewart sits at the intersection of trends in both the Virginia GOP and the country writ large. His near-win, capturing 42.5 percent of the primary vote to Gillespie’s 43.7 percent, shows the extent to which Trumpism still appeals to large parts of the Republican electorate, even when Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot.

And, deserving of it’s own post, but facing reality because I’m about to head to Charlotte to see Muse, this study of “The Five Types of Trump Voters and what they believe” is fascinating and the product of serious scholars.  The “American Preservationists” are not the plurality of Trump voters, but I think they are the most important:

American Preservationists have low levels of formal education and the lowest incomes of the Trump groups—and non-Trump voters as well. Despite being the most likely group to say that religion is “very important” to them, they are the least likely to attend church regularly. They are the most likely group to be on Medicaid, to report a permanent disability that prevents them from working, and to regularly smoke cigarettes. Despite watching the most TV, they are the least politically informed of the Trump groups.

American Preservationists appear more likely to desire being around people like themselves, who have similar backgrounds and cultural experiences. They are far more likely to have a strong sense of their own racial identity and to say their Christian  identity is very important to them. They take the most restrictionist approach to immigration— staunchly opposing not just illegal but legal immigration as well, and intensely supporting a temporary Muslim travel ban. They feel the greatest amount of angst over race relations: they believe that anti-white discrimination is as pervasive as other forms of discrimination, and they have cooler feelings (as measured on a feeling thermometer scale) toward minorities.(2) They agree in overwhelming numbers that real Americans need to have been born in America or have lived here most of their lives and be Christian.

And here’s some cool graphs putting their attitudes in context relative to other Trump supporters:

Lots of good stuff in the report.  You should at least check it out and scan the charts.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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