The majority makes its stand, again, against Donald Trump 📊 January 17, 2021
Trump departs office impeached again and with record low popularity — and renewed support for democracy reform
Thanks as ever for reading my weekly data-driven newsletter on politics, polling, and democracy. As always, I invite you to drop me a line (or just respond to this email) with any thoughts worth sharing. Please click/tap the ❤️ under the headline if you like what you’re reading; it’s our little trick to sway Substack’s curation algorithm in our favor. If you want more content, I publish subscribers-only posts once or twice a week.
This week could prove to be a tough and fearful one in Washinton. With the tens of thousands of national guard troops marching in the streets, the atmosphere feels as if the right-wing scaremongers finally got their martial law boogeyman — and it’s entirely their fault.
Still, I try to look on the bright side. This week’s newsletter does just that. In charting the depths of opposition to Trump and the events that have led to him being kicked out of the White House as a disgraced and unpopular president, I am reminded of how the majority of Americans really do want our politics to be better. I look at some polling on democracy reform, too.
Stay safe this week, and as always feel free to send me your comments via email or leave them below.
Americans make their stand against Trumpism
Trump departs office impeached again and with record low popularity, and renewed support for democracy reform
In times of upheaval and turmoil, it is easy to forget that the majority want things to be better.
This week, the House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump for the second time. They had the backing of roughly 53% of voters — and 16% of Republicans — when they did so. We ought to view Trump's second impeachment as a victory both against illiberalism and authoritarian ethno-nationalist terrorists and for the majority. The public has now voted Trump out of office twice (the first time failing because of the right-leaning bias of the Electoral College), and issued Congressional verdicts on whether they had changed their mind about him (they have not).
Of course, 95% of Republican lawmakers are sticking by their man. In the House, only 10 joined the Democrats in impeaching the president for inciting insurrection. He may yet be convicted for such a charge, but likely with only a few Republicans crossing the aisle. The lesson to be learned: we are not out of the woods yet. Americans have a troubling, dangerous tolerance for illiberal violence, as I wrote in a post for subscribers this week.
Yet it is worth reminding ourselves that most people want our politics to be better. Not only has approval for Trump reached record lows, but the concerning events of the last two weeks have rekindled support for democracy reform. Here are Pew's numbers on Trump approval:
If you believe that our electoral institutions are a big contributor to current political polarization, Washington dysfunction, affective illiberalism and a host of other problems (and you should), a new poll from navigator research may offer you some comfort. They find majority support for universal vote-by-mail, non-partisan redistricting commissions, getting rid of the filibuster and getting rid of (or overriding) the Electoral College.
As many readers will know, I am relatively pessimistic about the long-term trajectory of American democracy. This week's events and recent polling give me a little more hope — so long as public opinion can be translated into policy, which is by no means guaranteed.
Posts for subscribers
January 17: How illiberal is the American voter? About one of every four Americans is dangerously illiberal
What I'm Reading and Working On
We are closing in on book progress, folks! I’ve got three chapters left to write and about six weeks to do so. I am really looking forward to finishing up these pages and releasing the book to the world — of course, that’s not going to happen for another year though, so keep holding those horses.
In terms of reading, I picked up a copy of Charles Duhigg’s “Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity” this week. It is great. Though self-helpy titles often turn me off of a book, I read Duhigg’s first book on the habit loop and both massively enjoyed the narrative structure and learned a lot. This one was no different.
Other links and recommendations:
The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner had a great interview with historian Eric Foner about “Learning from the failure of reconstruction” this week. Especially right now, I recommend a read.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back in your inbox next Sunday. In the meantime, follow me online or reach out via email if you’d like to engage. I’d love to hear from you. If you want more content, I publish subscribers-only posts once or twice each week.