Race and Class and What Happened in 2016

… Simple explanations are rarely complete explanations, but when a candidate makes many more populist promises than is usual for a Republican, and then wins more working-class votes than is usual, the straightforward explanation — that the promises actually resonated with voters — probably contains a lot of truth.

And trends in public opinion since the election have tended to confirm this point. Since entering the White House, Trump has mostly dropped his campaign populism and pursued conventional Republican policy goals (ineffectively in legislation, effectively in judicial appointments), while relying on tribal and racial and culture-war appeals to hold his base.

This combination has enabled him to maintain a core of partisan support, which proves, again and alas, that large parts of the conservative coalition either tolerate white-identitarian forays for the sake of other ends (pro-life or pro-corporate tax cuts, depending) or else simply prefer identitarian nationalism to higher-minded forms of conservatism.

But his governing style has not made Trump broadly popular, or enabled him to hold onto even the 45 percent support that he won last November. CONT.

Ross Douthat, New York Times