A majority of Democrats across the nation are “shocked,” “disgusted” and “horrified” that Donald Trump won the presidential election, and do not want him to succeed, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
Their hopes for the Democratic leadership under a Trump presidency: a fight.
Nearly two-thirds of Democrats and left-leaning voters said they would like to see their Democratic leaders to stand up to Trump on political issues “even if less gets done in Washington,” Pew reported Monday.
By comparison, in 2008 only 36 percent of Republicans said they would like Republican leaders to stand up to Obama regardless of its effects on Washington’s productivity.
It might seem like an odd turn after years of an Obama presidency marred by gridlock and polarization — something Democrats have often lamented — but from an electoral perspective, it makes sense. Trump has proved to be one of the most unfavorable presidents-elect in recent history. His popularity jumped to a mere 42 percent after Election Day; Obama’s was at 68 percent in 2008, according to Gallup.
Trump also often openly courted racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic groups during his run for the presidency, campaigned on potentially unconstitutional platforms, and promised to overturn most of Obama’s eight-year legacy. This all gives Democrats reason to fight.
However, it does signal some dissonance between Democratic political leaders, who have largely struck a conciliatory tone on working with Trump, and the general feelings of the Democratic electorate.
Democratic leaders are saying they will work with Trump — to an extent
Barring overt demagoguery, Democratic politicians have said they will work with President-elect Trump — to an extent. They’re on board when it comes to matters of trade, infrastructure, closing tax loopholes, and corruption in Washington.
“Surprisingly, on certain issues, candidate Trump voiced very progressive and populist opinions,” incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday. “I hope on the promises he's made to blue collar America on trade, on carried interest, on infrastructure, that he'll stick with them and work with us, even if it means breaking with the Republicans who have always opposed these things,”
Sen. Bernie Sanders echoed this sentiment in a statement following Trump’s victory: “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”
In other words, the position of Democratic politicians has not explicitly been, we will do everything in our power to ensure Trump’s failure.
It’s a notably different narrative than from 2008, when Republicans said they were determined to make President Barack Obama a one-term president — a sentiment largely attributed to Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who made the comment public in 2010.
It sounds like that’s more of the message Democratic voters want to hear.