Implications of President Trump’s Focus on His Base

Social scientists have long been familiar with the important concept of the reference group — a group individuals use as the standard against which to compare their own behavior and self-perceptions, whether a part of that group or not.

President Donald Trump has, in recent months, given evidence that his reference group is shifting to the minority of the U.S. population he characterizes as his “base.” …

A selective focus on only a portion of the population as one’s reference group is an attractive and tempting alternative for any politician. It reduces the cognitive dissonance that accompanies attempting to deal with the fact that the entire population is more negative than positive (Trump’s current overall job approval rating is 37%), and it produces a stream of positive feedback from that base (as was the case in President Trump’s recent speeches in Phoenix and Springfield, Missouri). CONT.

Frank Newport, Gallup