My framework for viewing Donald Trump’s campaign in the 2016 general election involves seeing his supporters in two distinct groups: Despite and Because.
Some people are still supporting Trump despite all the awful things he has said and done. Despite his “grab them by the pussy” boasts of sexual assault, despite his fantasies about Mexican rapists pouring over the border, despite his enthusiasm for torture, despite his calls for unconstitutional religious bans, despite his wanting to build a ridiculous wall, despite his awkwardly transparent attempts to pander to religious audiences, despite his sleazy track-record of litigiousness and stiffing contractors, despite his bankruptcies, despite his long history of vile racism and misogyny, despite his evident ignorance and his constant flip-flop-flipping and vacillating that makes it impossible to know what policies he really supports or opposes. They don’t like any of that and find it all embarrassing and unfortunate, but despite it all they’re still leaning Trump because of abortion, or because they hate Hillary Clinton, or because of the Supreme Court, or just because they’re Republicans and Trump these days carries an “R” by his name.
The Despite voters didn’t support Donald Trump in the Republican primaries, but their vote in those contests was scattered among the 16 other candidates in that contest. Now, after all those other options are off the table, these folks will, they guess, be forced to support their party’s nominee, despite everything.
Trump won those primaries without the help of Team Despite because he had the unwavering allegiance of Team Because. These are the folks who look at that whole long list above and love every bit of it. They love and support Donald Trump because of his crude language, because of his anti-immigrant slurs, because of his enthusiasm for torture, because he has promised (and un-promised, and re-promised, endlessly) to ban Muslims, because he wants to build a ridiculous wall, because of his sleazy business history, because of his racism and misogyny, because of his puffed-up ignorance, because of his disdain for constitutional restrictions and his disdain for basic mores, manners and fundamental decency.