Trump’s Rallies Make Him Seem More Popular Than He Is

President Donald TrumpAccording to Katy Tur at NBC, Trump’s El Paso rally wasn’t very local. “The majority of people that she’s seen walking in … were not from El Paso. They were driving from hours away.” I think that’s interesting because it seems that this has always been the case.

There were two rallies in El Paso last night. One was Trump’s rally in the El Paso County Coliseum. Beto O’Rourke, Veronica Escobar, and others held a counter-event outside near the Bowie High School. Always classy, Trump had to boast about his supposedly bigger crowd, “We have say 35,000 people tonight, and he has, say, 200 people, 300 people.”

As usual with almost every sentence Trump utters, it is completely wrong. First, he said “10,000 people” earlier during his speech. But even worse, the El Paso County Coliseum only holds 6,500. Trump told his crowd that he got special permission from the fire department to squeeze 10,000 people in the stadium. The fire public information officer, Enrique D Aguilar, said that wasn’t true. “It might be 10,000 with the people outside,” he said.

Meanwhile, the anti-Trump event drew 10,000 to 15,000 people according to the El Paso police. But it hardly matters because Trump only ever preaches to the choir. And they will always believe whatever he says. And even without him, they’d be online right now claiming that there were a quarter million at the rally. (Trust me: I know!)

Trump’s Bloated Rallies

Beto O'RourkeBut I’m struck with the fact that people came to see Trump from many miles away. Of course, it isn’t surprising. As much as the media has made out that Trump supporters are people struggling in this economy, that’s just not true.

My experience is that the typical Trump supporter is a guy with one of the last remaining good union jobs who is pissed off because people don’t think it’s okay to pinch waitresses. But the data bears me out. According to FiveThirtyEight, the median income of Trump supporters is $72,000. And Psychology Today presents a profile of angry authoritarian bigots who think they are being screwed even though they aren’t in any absolute sense.

Given that these people have lots of money, they have the ability to drive a hundred miles to see their prophet. And they always have!

This means that Trump’s events have always presented him as more popular than he really is. Note, in this case, I’m not talking about Trump paying people to support him as he did for his campaign announcement. These are actual supporters.

Trump’s Intense Support

And even if there are not a lot of Trump fans who follow him from event to event, the people at his events seem to indicate the depth of his support, not its breadth. And we already know that. Trump isn’t like a normal politician; he’s like a cult leader. And he has exactly the kind of supporters you would think.

Ultimately, this is bad for Trump unless he can get non-supporters to not vote. As I said, Trump is only interested in pleasing his base. And in doing that, he slowly loses more and more of his non-hard core supporters.

But don’t let the intensity of Trump’s support blind you do the fact that it is a mile deep but not very wide. His events are like magic tricks for the media. And Trump doesn’t even care because these events are only to make him feel good. It’s indicative of our dysfunctional media environment that these events are even covered.

Thousands of sycophants drive up to hundreds of miles to see Trump? Now that’s a dog bites man story!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

10 thoughts on “Trump’s Rallies Make Him Seem More Popular Than He Is

  1. A few years ago, we went to this state park in northern Minnesota. It’s an old, abandoned mine. You ride in a 1890s mine car straight down about 2500 feet. If that sounds spooky, that’s because IT IS FUCKING SPOOKY.

    At the end of the tour, our guide pleaded with us to vote for politicians who would bring the iron mines back. Now, I’ve done some volunteer work at state historic sites, and I can guarantee you we aren’t supposed to mention our personal politics. It’s a big no-no.

    But I understood why. The towns up there are dead. Done, finished, hand them over to snow lynx, the storefronts are abandoned, everything’s screwed. Some new mine that poisons the local lakes (one last shred of economic activity, canoeing and such) isn’t going to change shit.

    For people in such places, Democrats represent the awful decision-makers who killed their towns. It’s completely untrue — it’s straight-up capitalism that killed those towns — but that’s what they believe.

    On a lighter note, we stayed in this hotel, a no-frills but clean & warm place. The owner was from India, and commented on my ID when we checked in.

    “So, you are from the Twin Cities?”


    “Is there any mining there?”


    “What is your economy, then?”

    I dunno, city stuff.

    “Do you have an airport?”

    At this point I wondered “how the shit did you get to northern Minnesota without the Twin Cities? Via Canadian dogsled?” Also, when it comes to cities, YOU’RE FROM INDIA. Compared to Mumbai, Saint Paul is podunk hicksville.

    Great host, though, I’d forgotten to bring a glass for my beer and he loaned me one from his personal kitchen. Hope his hotel is doing well.

    Right up the highway was a small memorial where Paul Wellstone’s plane crashed and everybody died. There’s a political moral to this story but I’m fucked if I know what it is.

    • Great story! I don’t know what the moral is. Do you think the hotel owner might have been kidding? It sounds like it!

      I’d like to bring mines back just because I don’t like that the US’s economy is built on the backs of third-world resource extraction. Our current global system is horrible. In the name of “freedom,” we rape the third world and (via the IMF) we don’t allow these countries to grow their economies the way that we did. This is probably the biggest problem with capitalism. One thing is true: we sure as shit didn’t grow our economy via neoliberalism.

      • Yeah, who knows? Maybe the hotel guy was having me on. Hotel owners/operators are a curious lot, kinda like farmers in a way. It’s a huge investment, very dependent on seasonal income, and it’s impossible to predict one year’s fortunes to the next. All you can do is be kind to those crop beds / human beds.

        • I suspect you are right because you were there. If he had been kidding he probably would have tipped his hand. Just the same, he could have concluded that tourists like seeing that kind of thing in the locals. Just because he was from India doesn’t mean he shouldn’t play along! I don’t know.

  2. Unfortunately, the GOP has managed to corral a critical mass of “useful idiots” outside the mouthbreathing racist/sexist/xenophobic C.H.U.D.s that compose the base. They include:
    1. Theocrats; the people who want you and me to have to live by their religious shibboleths,
    2. Plutocrats, which includes the “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” who worship wealth and want plutocracy because in their ignorance they assume that they’ll be part of it,
    3. The Fearful, and that’s a fairly important demographic. Modern life is, frankly, scary if you’re the sort of person who wants a simple explanation for everything. There’s a LOT of complexity. Factories (and mines!) close and jobs go away and strange people who are different appear, and these simpletons want to close their eyes and make all the Bad Different Things Go Away. And the MAGAts promise them that if they vote Republican hard enough that it will happen.

    Of course it won’t, but the GOP will blame the lib’ruls and darkies and uppity wimmin and (((elites))) and the poor simple clods will believe them, because otherwise they’d have to accept that life is difficult and complex and you have to stay informed and try to use all your faculties to try and make good decisions…and you can STILL get screwed if something goes wrong.

    So, while the Trumpkins may be a minority, there is a much larger ring of pond-scum around them that enables the national GOP to consistently get some 40% of the vote. And, in a system the helps empower the rural areas and gives more weight to places with more space than people, it can be enough for them to hang on to power.

    • Virulent language… but I can’t say it’s wrong. Not in the slightest.

      If a Democratic primary candidate in 2020 uses the term “C.H.U.D.s” they’ll immediately zoom near the top of my list. Anybody attending one of those rallies for anything other than a sociology study is completely insane.

        • “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.” 80s splatter film. My kid brother went through a phase where he watched every splatter film the video store had. Later on was in charge of doing the state budget for California. True story. I should have encouraged more Merchant Ivory movies, maybe? But who knows, might have made him worse.

          • I knew of the film but I haven’t seen it. I will have to now! When I was younger, I didn’t like splatter films. Now that I know they are meant to be comedy, I find them hilarious. Okay, often they aren’t mean to be comedy, but they are still hilarious.

    • You are right. I think if America is ever to have democracy, we need to, you know, have democracy. The country was set-up to be anti-democratic. And we need to change that. Since I don’t think we ever will, we’re screwed.

      Fear is a powerful motivator. When there are TV and radio networks that do nothing but push fear, we are doomed. It’s funny that #1 and #3 above are all about fear. And it is #2 that pushes the fear and benefits from it.

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