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S4 Ep20: Life’s Too Short for Trump (with Jonathan V. Last)

February 17, 2024
Notes
Transcript
Trump appears to be in the driver’s seat to return to the White House. We could really use more two-time Trump voters who don’t want to vote for him again. Fortunately, we found a group just like that! Jonathan V. Last joins Sarah to listen to two-time Trump voters who think “life’s too short” for the anger of the Trump years, and to break down what else they do…and do not…think about the threat of Trump.

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:06

    Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Focus Secret Podcast. Sarah Longwell, publisher of the Bulwark. And this week, I’m gonna inject a little bit of hope into your feed. Now, we’ve seen poll after poll indicating Donald Trump is currently on a path back to the White House. That should scare the heck out of you, scares the heck out of me, but with Trump’s historically high unfavorable ratings, is a subset of voters who voted for Trump in both twenty sixteen and twenty twenty and do not wanna vote for him again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:37

    Now, I wanna walk you through What those voters do and do not think about Trump? Do they think that he’s an incompetent chaos agent? Yes. Do they think he’s going to be a dictator? That one’s more complicated.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:50

    My guest today is my best friend and the dark cloud in my life. Jonathan Last Last editor of the Bulwark and my co host on the next level and the secret podcast on Bulwark Plus. JBL. Thanks for being here, buddy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:04

    I can’t wait. Let’s get her done.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:06

    Oh, no. So listen. What is that Rick? I know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:11

    To Amy Walter. You didn’t do that. That’s Jen Posaki.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:15

    They don’t stress me out. Like, you stress me out when it comes to voters. You stress me out. So listen, before we get into the group that you watched, which I’m interested to get your thoughts on, I’m gonna actually start by talking about a different group. Before we get to the sound of sort of these down on trump trump voters, we’ve only done one focus group since the Robert Hurr report that questioned Biden’s memory has come out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:36

    And we were already we had this prescheduled group to do black voters who voted for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden aren’t that psyched about voting for Biden again? And so I just wanna play for you their reactions upon learning the special council described Biden as an elderly man with a poor memory. Let’s listen.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:56

    The Department of Justice called our president’s old man. That’s concerning to say the least.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:03

    And that’s what we have to vote for in November.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:05

    That’s to man with the launch codes to the nukes. The man with the
  • Speaker 4
    0:02:09

    poor man. No. I need a football to somebody else. I need a football to somebody else, please.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:14

    So it’s either the one that forgets that he did it or the one that did an intention.
  • Speaker 5
    0:02:19

    And let’s not pretend that president of the United States, like, truly makes all the decisions. That’s what the cabinet is there for. That’s what the chief staff is there for. Joe Biden signs his name. At the end of the day, he is the guy that is the face of the country, but he is not the sole decision maker at all.
  • Speaker 5
    0:02:36

    And I do feel safer in a guide in America than a Trump America for that reason because all of the people that surround Trump is chief of staff is cabinet members. All of these people are objectively bad people, and documentably so. Like, maybe Biden’s people are also bad, but, like, I haven’t seen evidence.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:54

    So, however, reluctantly, this entire group said that they would vote for Biden again when push came to shove. Though there was one woman who said she might reevaluate that after hearing about the report. But I think the last clip shows you how people felt their way through the age issue in real time. Right? There’s like, well, maybe, you know, it’s not just him there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:15

    He’s got this these other people around him. So JBL, I threw this in here at the top because my producer tells me that a few days ago in your triad, it was about how Biden can diffuse the age issue by leaning into it, making jokes about it, well, like, what was life before electricity, and making the wisdom a feature and not a bug. And so I wanted to give you a chance to maybe talk about your theory about how Biden can diffuse this age thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:40

    So, I I’m a big fan of this show. I listened to all of this show, and this group, which was African American voters who voted for Hillary and Biden, but are now on Biden, they were the best, smartest, and most plugged in and most reasonable group I’ve ever heard. And if we just had to turn over all decisions about who gets elected for the next ten years to those ten people, I would be fine with it. Here’s what none of them said. Joe Biden might be a bad person, but King David was all so bad.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:16

    And so what we need is a King David type. Here is what they did not say. Robert Hur is an evil Republican from the deep state, and he was just there to set Biden up. Here’s what they did not say. Joe Biden is actually a criminal mastermind that he’s not elderly, and it’s all an act.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:32

    And you stupid people in the mainstream media keep falling for it. No. They just acknowledge reality as it was. They were, I think, appropriately concerned about it. One of the women in the group.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:46

    I would say sounds almost like a so well informed you could be a bulwark reader She said, yeah, now it is concerning, you know, especially the handling of classified documents, but also at the same time, you do have to wonder You know, is this a little bit like the New York Times fixation on the how are you collecting emails in twenty sixteen, which again ding ding ding. It’s a very on point thing. They were great, and this is why I’ve been saying this now for as long as you’ve been doing the focus groups. When you get the Democratic voters, They sound pretty normal. They say things like yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:20

    No. Look. I understand why, you know, a lot of my neighbors voted for Trump. You know, they’re not bad people and everybody else not at all. And but and then you go to the Republican groups.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:29

    They’re like, oh, the groomers and communists. It is a weird night and day difference in how the partisans of the two parties approach the parties themselves. And the Republican voters sound like they’re in a cult, and the Democratic voters sound like They make decisions based on reasonably rational calculations, and they are not wholly mortgaged to the cult of Joe Biden, like some of us are That was a great group. You should release the entirety of that group.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:01

    It was a good group. And, like, I’ll acknowledge that I think you are sort of correct sometimes people are like, what is the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans that you hear in the groups? And the way that Republicans have tremendous disdain for Democrats comes through in almost all groups. And sometimes they’ll be like, and a few might be good people. But I can A couple of
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:28

    them might not be groomers.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:29

    So I’m sure some are good people. But they generally believe that Democrats are there to destroy the country, whereas Democrats you know, sometimes it depends on the groups because if you get, like, a real progressive group from California that doesn’t know that many Republicans. You will hear the, like, these people have horns. They’re crazy. They don’t know anything.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:53

    But, like, if you just kinda do a regular screen on a Democratic group, They usually tend to know a lot of Republicans, and they don’t feel like they are, like, horrible people. And they very much focus on Trump. Like, they think Trump is the problem. They think Trump is the bad guy, but not the people, whereas The Republican voters will be like, well, Joe Biden has dementia, but, like, Democrats writ large are, like, socialist communist people coming for us. I do think that is real.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:23

    Okay. So let’s get to this Hopium group. Right? So these are the two time Trump voters who are not very likely or not at all likely to vote for Trump again. Because these are the people who you have to convince to either vote for Joe Biden or at least not kind of come around on Trump.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:43

    Like, they voted for Trump twice. They got there twice. But I think for Joe Biden to win this election, You need a fair number of these people to say never again. So let’s listen to how they talked about their votes for Trump in the past and why they’re down on Trump now.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:58

    Like most everybody else did not trust Hillary Glenn. She wasn’t anywhere near the campaigner that her husband was, and questionable about her background. So I thought Trump would be at least, you know, not her In twenty twenty, I just didn’t think Biden was up to the job. And I still don’t. And so I voted for Trump.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:21

    Twenty four. I don’t think either of my or up to the job. Biden is only getting older. There’s a reason they don’t put them in front of cameras and microphones. Remember he won the presidency by campaigning from a basement, trying to stay away from people.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:34

    And, you know, he’s not getting any better. And Trump isn’t not getting any better either. You know, you got plenty of accusations and whatever’s true, don’t know. I like to wait to see what happens legally. But as far as my opinion, everyone keeps shrinking, I’m gonna vote in the election, but I’m not sure I’m gonna vote for president because I can’t see who I would vote for.
  • Speaker 5
    0:08:54

    Because after Biden One, he said, you know, it’s his way of the highway pretty much, like, he was trying to go behind closed doors and get people to vote for him and change the votes. So it means you think what were really the votes. So thankfully, people spoke up, but, you know, I feel like for the next election, he’s gonna do the same thing.
  • Speaker 6
    0:09:13

    I would have been grateful if Biden had one even though I voted for Trump. But I didn’t wanna be responsible for that. And I really, really regretted my decision because right after that, then we found out Well, January sixth did it for me. That was so anti American anti patriotic I cannot get over that.
  • Speaker 7
    0:09:40

    So when it came around to twenty twenty, Trump hadn’t really shown his jumped the shark side. That’s what I like to call it. It was like a couple of weeks after the election, and it was once January six came, certainly. And when he started to incite the people to resist the certification of the elect his demeanor changed from one that was well, I wouldn’t say completely presidential because he was an embarrassment in the national realm in terms of whenever he would represent the country overseas. But all of a sudden, he really jumped the shark and He created what I would call almost a shared psychosis amongst the people.
  • Speaker 7
    0:10:28

    Trump has been charged with ninety one criminal Charlie Sykes typically, when somebody’s charged with that many criminal charges, there’s a pretty good chance they’re guilty of at least one of them. Okay? So do you want a president who is indicted and perhaps found guilty And, you know, in so many situations, we don’t even hire people or jobs if they have a criminal history
  • Speaker 8
    0:10:58

    in sixteen, I wanted to change, and I felt like that he was at least demonstrated that he was gonna come in and make some positive changes and then, of course, his persona and the way he presented himself to the world. Was a fucking joke. Sorry about the language. And then in twenty twenty, it was you know, the lesser are two evils, but I thought that he had made some positive moves, and I didn’t think I wanted to see that broken apart. You know, and then now he’s just off the chart.
  • Speaker 5
    0:11:39

    I think he makes brings out the anger in the country. He really likes to divide us and conquer us and and try to figure out where are we gonna be most angry about something? And then he escalates whatever that anger is. And Life’s too short.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:57

    Life’s too short indeed. So let me give you just a little bit of context here. So Only one person in this group was willing to vote for Trump in a straight trump versus Biden matchup. So four people chose Biden, so they would vote for him, and then four chose to abstain. They weren’t gonna vote for either of them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:16

    Leave the top of the ticket blank. Now when we included the third party options, only one person chose Biden, but everyone else chose a third party or abstained. But no one was voting for Trump. Now, JBL, I think you and I both take exception to the idea that Trump hadn’t jumped the shark until after the twenty twenty election. What did you think about these people largely saying that January sixth and the indictments are the main things turning them off from Trump right now?
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:43

    Do you think it’s evidence that the subset of people could grow as the cycle goes on? So
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:49

    that was not my takeaway, was that it was the indictments on January sixth. My takeaway was that the through line for every one of these people was that they believe Trump lost, and it was about the lies about the election. Was what turned them off. And the indictments and January sixth follow on from that and cemented it. But all of them begin from the place of He lost.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:13

    There wasn’t any fraud. He couldn’t prove any fraud. Sure there’s some fraud in every election, but he took his cases to court. And that that’s where they all got off the train and listening to this group, I found myself wondering is that signal or cause? Were they coming off of Trump?
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:33

    And so that manifests itself as them saying, but he lost. Or does it begin with the belief that he lost, and that is then what made them break from trumpism. I think either way this is incredibly helpful for Biden in the the Democrats and their campaign. Because when you look at the polling on this, among self identified Republicans, you get about thirty three percent saying that Trump lost in twenty twenty among Republican leaders. It’s it’s a a tick better.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:06

    It’s like thirty five percent. And this tracks, basically, with the not Trump vote in the Republican primary so far, his ceiling is only sixty five percent. Right? He only owns two thirds of the party. But if that other thirty three percent, thirty five percent, are people like this where the idea of he’s lying to you about the twenty twenty election is an off ramp for them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:32

    In a way to then get most of them to not vote for Trump and to get some of them to vote for Biden. I mean, I understand the polling, and I believe the polling and absolutely Trump could win. I don’t think he can win if he’s gonna lose ten percent of the Republican vote or something like that. And there is a sense among election analysts that buying this up against a ceiling in votes that you can expect to get from the suburbs. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:58

    We talked about that this week on the next level about the trade that America made in the course of this gigantic electoral transition. Where a bunch of low propensity blue collar voters who used to vote democrat now vote Republican or Republicans gave up a bunch of professionals and suburbs.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:14

    Who always show up for special elections,
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:16

    which is why Democrats keep winning them by these wide margins. Right. So in rural America in twenty twenty, Trump won by what we like to joke about saddam hussein numbers. Right? It was trump sixty five Biden thirty two.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:28

    Trump was plus thirty two in rural America. In Suburban America, Biden was only plus eleven. Now we think that a fifty four forty three blowout for Biden and the suburbs and people look at that and say, well, how many more could he get? I don’t know. Why couldn’t Biden go to Saddamamui saying numbers in the suburbs.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:49

    I actually think there’s grounds to be plowed there. And I think listening to these voters, again, there are people who begin from the baseline of Trump lost, and he is lying to us about it. And it’s not like Trump can pivot into the election. You know, it’s not like when we get to August, Trump is gonna say, Oh, forget all that election stuff. Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:08

    Biden won. It’s not like you can do on an issue like abortion. Right? He can’t pivot on because this lie is foundational to his self image. I just think there’s a lot of tactical room to goad him into continuing say things that are going to agitate that thirty three to thirty five percent of Republican voters and that some percentage of them, especially women who are pro choice, who voted for Trump twice of which there are one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:34

    We had one in this group. I think there’s a pathway to break a lot of those people off. I know. What did you think?
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:40

    So what’s interesting to me that you saw it as, like, the people who thought that the vote was true. To me, it all kinda rolls together. I’m always like, okay. This is a certain kind of person who was like, why is he lying about this? But they get very animated about January sixth because this kinda group talked about it, like, how unpatriotic it was, how un American it was.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:00

    And so it struck something deep in them. And a lot of people talk about, like, that’s when they got off the train. But I do think that they’re clearly linked together. Right? And we know they’re linked together.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:09

    There’s the lie and the lie drove people to attack the capital, and that’s when they were just kinda like, and I’m out. And to your point, this group is gonna be decisive and they are what we would call sort of the double haters or the double doubters or the epoxy on both their houses. To me, the essence was if you ask them, they are not tribally Republican. They are Trump voters. They voted for him twice.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:36

    Uh-huh.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:36

    But, like, they’re not committed to the Republican Party. Like, one of the women in there was, like, a Bernie Sanders. Like, I’m gonna vote for Mary Ann Williams saying.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:44

    She was can we talk about that woman for
  • Speaker 9
    0:17:47

    a moment?
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:47

    Go ahead.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:47

    We had a woman on the group. And she self identified as a pagan witch who is a self proclaimed big time feminist Also voted for Donald Trump twice, also as incredibly pro choice, and also was supporting Mary Ann Will Saletan the time around and kind of wishes that Bernie had been in the race. And this is the kind of person who, I think, people who unfairly take the view that I JBL and too hard on the voters would say, oh, you know, would you look down on her? And I don’t because she’s internally consistent. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:22

    All of that stuff makes sense when you put it together. And where I go a little bit crazy is the people who say, you know, I want a president who’s gonna do something about how care and lower drug prices. You know, like, well, Joe Biden just did that. Why don’t you like that? Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:35

    This woman, it’s a little weird, and it’s all unorthodox, but it does hang together and it makes some sense. The other thing is these people when you look at the twenty twenty results, there’s some really good exit polling looking at voters by voting frequency, meaning Did they vote in twenty sixteen, twenty eighteen, neither or both? And the only group that Trump won was people who only had voted in twenty sixteen, right, who, as you say, trump voters. And so
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:03

    Trump voters, not Republicans. Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:05

    Yes. Exactly because of the non traditional trump voters. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:09

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:09

    And I think it’s a little easier to pry those people off than it is to pry the people who are really team elephant.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:18

    That’s right. And look, I think there’s almost two different set. So there’s what we’re talking about that you brought up, which is college educated suburban voters who have been politically realigning themselves into the Democratic party, and I do not think Joe Biden has his ceiling on that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:32

    Yeah. I think he’s got, like, ten more points.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:34

    I see the groups all the time of people who, like and there were people in this group who did it too. It’s like, why did you vote for him a even though they clearly didn’t really like him after his first term. And it was like, well, we were in the middle of a pandemic, and I didn’t think it was right to change course. Like, they have these rationales that have with nothing
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:50

    to do. Said that as she was voting for him and left the booth, that she couldn’t hope that Biden was gonna win, that’s the first step to realignment. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:58

    That is. I do have to tell you. One of the things that people are always skeptical of is that there are undecided voters and the number of people who’d say in the groups, I was in line and I didn’t know who I was voting for. And I think people are really skeptical with this idea because they think, how could you, like, go get in line to vote and not only you wanna vote for, the number of people who feel a civic patriotic duty to go vote And, like, on the day of or, you know, within the week, for the first time, kinda try to figure out the contours of the election and tune in That is not infrequent. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:31

    That is a perfectly normal thing that goes on with these voters. But, anyway, so there’s this difference between these college educated suburban voters And then these double doubters or double haters who are like, I don’t really like either party, and I’ve gotta make a decision, and they all use the same phrase. If we had a drinking game for it, we would die, they all say lesser of two evils. And this is where Hillary Clinton, when people say she was a bad candidate, they sort of took it as a fait accompli that Donald Trump was the lesser of two evils in an election with Hillary Clinton. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:59

    I used to hear that all the time. We don’t ask that much about sixteen anymore. But when you do, people will just tell you it was about voting not for Trump, but against Hillary Clinton. And now these people, they basically have super doubts about Joe Biden mainly because of his age, but they hate Trump. They think he’s gross.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:17

    They think he’s mean and negative and life’s too short for all his hatred. And so I have heard this enough in these groups. And it is why I tend to be less freaking out about these polls is I’m like, I don’t know. I think when push comes to shove, right, you get a group of of those black voters who are down on Biden. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:40

    Down on it. Didn’t wanna vote from again. Think he’s too old. Push cups to show up. They’re all voting for Biden.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:45

    You get a group like this. They hate them both. They think Biden’s too old. Don’t wanna vote for him. Only one person votes for Trump.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:53

    Four abstain and four vote for Biden. And to me, that’s the story.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:58

    I think so. I mean, that’s Biden’s path to victory. Right? This is your the anti trump coalition.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:03

    That’s right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:04

    So let me get back to your Biden age question then. This is why I think it’s good for Biden to have all of this stuff out now. If I had a nickel for every time, I had been told by the anti types that nobody wants to talk about Joe Biden’s age, and that’s literally all we’ve talked about for the last year when it comes to Joe Biden’s age. And I think that’s good because it’s there. We all ought to talk about it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:29

    It’s a totally valid issue, but also it’s good politically for bi because he shouldn’t be hiding. Again, I say, you know, hang a lantern on it. You know, am I old? Oh, I’m so old. You know, eighty one?
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:42

    I’m ninety one. I’m a hundred and twenty one. Right? You gotta start purposely forgetting things in press conferences, you know, call reporters by the wrong names. And, you know, just do a little Joe Biden wink at the camera as he does it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:56

    And I think it all ought to be stuff of, well, that’s just our crazy Uncle Joe and make people comfortable with the idea of chuckling at it. I just think that’s the obvious best way to deal with it. I’m not a con’s professional. You are. What would you do?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:11

    I liked this triad of yours.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:13

    Don’t sound so surprised.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:15

    No. No. No. I don’t know that I agree with you about, like, the leaning in and making fake. There are some things you can do where you know, you make jokes where you constantly call Peter Ducey, puck or something.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:28

    I don’t know. What you want is for him to be like, I know you’re all talking about this, but, like, you need to instill confidence in people still. Like, the chuckling has to sort of be married to a kind of, like, this guy can still do the job And so I do think part of my comms advice, and this is without being close to it, for example, that football game, the one that we just had, the Super Bowl.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:51

    The big game.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:52

    The big game. Right? It’s so big that I watched it. Now I fell asleep in overtime, but I watched it and was pretty interested in it. Thought it was fun.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:03

    Joe Biden had the opportunity to sit down and do an interview for that game. I don’t know if you saw the numbers from that game, but it’s like almost everyone in the country watched it between Taylor Swift and the what all the whatever. It was like two hundred and fifteen million people watched that game. That would have been a great opportunity. At a time when people are relaxed, they’re not feeling political to be funny, show up.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:29

    And I think the fact that he doesn’t do that is an enormous liability for him. And you heard this in the group. Right? They say they ran from his basement last time. They say that you don’t see him.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:39

    Like, nature reports a vacuum. And I think that it’s fine for him to do it if he can pull it off. Right? Like, the execution of what you’re talking about is important, and he can make jokes about it. But he also has to demonstrate that he’s competent He can’t just, like, not be there, and then Trump is crazy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:58

    Right? He has to affirmatively make people confident that he can do the job for another four years. Well, so I’m not pushing back.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:04

    I’m I’m just asking questions here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:05

    You can push back.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:06

    No. No. Because I’m not sure of this. I’m asking a legitimate question, not a snarky question. If what we’re doing is building an anti trump coalition, then is having Biden out in front, like, even if he’s really good at it?
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:19

    All that helpful?
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:20

    No. I think he’s gotta work himself to par. Right? I’m talking about I don’t think this guy has dementia. Like, hangang, then just work yourself to a place of he seems okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:30

    Like, no one’s gonna forget he’s old. This was the thing about the her And we talked about this on next level too. But when this her report came out and, like, a bunch of reporters were calling to be like, is this catastrophic? And I was indisposed this week. And so I I I didn’t get into it with people.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:44

    But, like, the answer is everybody knows he’s old. It did not take this report for voters to be like, Oh, he’s he’s a nice guy who’s pretty old. They already think that. And they think it by looking at him, the thing about hanging a lantern on it, I think is so much better than trying to hide it because he is old and nobody’s mistaking that. Not a single voter doesn’t think it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:06

    Now there’s a difference between old and dementia. Right? And so he has to dispense with the dementia and be like, Yeah, man. I’m old. I’m older than the photographs.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:18

    I don’t know. Something really old. But you know what? I’m not ninety one. That’s how many indictments Donald Trump had.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:23

    Like, he does have to be able to do some of that, and I think hiding is a mistake. No. Fair. Fair. So we did this group right after the aging Carol verdict was handed down, and Trump was offered to pay her eighty three point three million dollars.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:39

    So I wanna listen to how this recent group and other out on Trump two time Trump voters from recent months have talked about sort of the Trump legal stuff.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:49

    Because I wasn’t gonna vote for him anyway, probably. It’s not a neutral doesn’t change me. I think trunk’s guilty of a lot of things. Somebody’s been charged with, some haven’t been charged, and there’s a lot of interesting bias coming out of DOJs and local groups and all that. But I don’t put a whole lot of stock in.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:07

    That’s my barometer of Trump’s a good guy or not. Was the eighty three million dollars awarded or not.
  • Speaker 7
    0:27:12

    For me, the most important one having dealt with classified documents for the majority of my life I would have to say that was the most severe and most concerning one of all. These documents because of the way he retained the documents, I have a very strong feeling that he is bartering these documents with foreign powers.
  • Speaker 8
    0:27:37

    I think he’s a sociopath, and I think the most egregious to me is the documents in the way. He lied and manipulated and it’s for financial gain, and it’s also to gain his presence on the world stage. I’ll give you a little bit of something here if you Give me some back. And it’s pathological. I think he’s a pathological liar and manipulator That’s how he got to where he is in business because a lot of business models, you step on who you gotta step on to get up to the top.
  • Speaker 8
    0:28:14

    And to preserve your standing.
  • Speaker 9
    0:28:17

    I mean, who does that? Call an election official and tell them to do that. And, sending his cronies, you know, Rudy down here to Georgia and, you know, claiming that, there’s election fraud and people are the owner or doing something with ballots was just bogus, totally.
  • Speaker 10
    0:28:35

    I did not personally like, you know, being from Georgia, his attack that he had against Georgia during the elections, especially on governor Kemp. I mean, I honestly have a lot more respect for governor Kemp than I do for Trump.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:47

    So we’ve had several Georgia people in here, and Georgia’s one of those states that I’m always like, oh, I think Georgia’s probably not gonna go by it in a second time. But, I mean, the people from Georgia are super aware of
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:59

    Oh, yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:00

    The investigation in Georgia. It like, a lot of the groups, you get into the legal stuff in kinda white noise to them, especially in the real into Trump people because they just, like, don’t care. So they’re, like, whatever. None of this matters to me, but these guys who were in Georgia were, like, mad about what he did calling up Raffensberger telling him to find votes. So a lot of people ask me this reporters when they say, we see in polls that people say if Trump is convicted, that will make a difference to them and they won’t vote for them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:28

    Like, and do you believe that’s true? And I’m like, I don’t think that the percentage who say that now will do it because the right wing infotainment media will work on them. They’ll make excuses. It’ll weed out. People find a rationalization through it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:40

    But I do think People like this who are deeply frustrated with what Trump has done. Like, there are people who have voted for Trump in the past. And these court cases are reminding them of why Trump is unfit.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:53

    Sarah, these are all people who voted for Donald Trump twice and they called him a sociopath. Yep. One said that he believed that Trump was holding on to classified documents in order to sell them to foreign leaders and get money. Another person likens trump to Charles Manson. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:11

    I don’t know if you caught that. And what this woman was saying, she was saying, like, look, Trump didn’t incite this or that. Well, Charles Manson didn’t kill anybody himself. You know, he went to jail because he he directed other people to do bad things. This is really remarkable.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:25

    Like you, I do not believe that the outcomes of any of these criminal trials are going to move all that many votes. I think it may move some if there are outcomes. I’m not George Conway, your other friend. You’ll have to have this conversation with him, but I am very doubtful that we’re gonna get any of these trials done before the election. And if there is one, it’ll be probably the Alvin Bragg story Daniel’s one in New York state.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:57

    He’s much more optimistic than you or I am on the timeline. And he knows more about this stuff than we do, but he should acknowledge it. But, like, I am so skeptical, especially just watching the most recent, the immunity, which is a subset of the Jack Smith investigation. Right? Trump is gonna throw all these things at it, and then things gonna go to the Supreme Court.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:17

    They gotta decide where they’re gonna take it up. Like, they know how to gum up the works. Like, this is, like, trump’s, like, master class.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:24

    Well, but they also know that the Supreme Court doesn’t want to influence any totally. It is desperate not to influence any elections. So its incentives are aligned with trumps on this. That’s why I think it’s really so key to not get caught up in the indictments and not get caught up in the guilty verdicts or not guilty verdicts because you’re unlikely to have one you’re just as likely to get, hung jury in Manhattan or something like that. The one he’s dead to rights on, one that absolutely nobody can come up with any defense and four is the Jack Smith documents case in Florida, but the judge down there, Aileen Cannon, has signaled the She is absolutely not gonna let this secretary trust out
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:05

    with the election. Yeah. That thing is not moving. Yeah. For sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:08

    So, the key is just focus on the election loss. And the lie for the people who don’t believe the lie, make it sally into them. And if you do that, Trump is gonna help you. Because if you poke him hard enough, he’s gonna come out and keep talking about how, of course, he won.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:23

    You don’t have to poke him. That’s just like what he does. And this is my theory of the case. And I think it’s Biden theory of the case. The best thing about doing multiple focus groups a week and now having done them for years is you can watch as people go from not understanding an issue, having it not seep in to it starting to filter down.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:42

    And so for a long time, the cases were white noise kinda to everybody. They couldn’t tell them apart. But as they get litigated and as there’s more stories about them and as Trump is in court, People like this group, which kind of are high information, but hate both parties. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:58

    They were put. Time’s info. That was the other thing. They were clearly getting their information from mainstream media.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:04

    Well, this is what you get when you don’t get hyper partisans. Right? Like, they’re not Right. Wisconsin right wing media. They’re just kind of getting Facebook y mainstream morning news, local news, kind of stuff.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:16

    And That makes them ideologically not similar to one another. They still are low trust, but the one thing is that they don’t like either of these guys. And as you see more of Trump as Trump talks about the election being stolen more as he gets more deep into the cases, right, it just reminds people of January six. These are the people where I think as the double haters, they ultimately land on. I hate Trump more.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:41

    And that that’s the key to the anti Trump Coalition is hating Trump more.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:45

    Yeah. Can I bring up one other thing? Yeah. So one of the people in the group said that the physical parts of the economy and everything else aren’t awful. The mood is terrible.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:58

    And this is the first time I’ve seen in one of your groups where somebody who is not a Biden supporter acknowledged, actually things are pretty good. And instead, retreated to the people have bad vibes about it. And I think If that continues to permeate, which I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t. The good things that are happening in the economy are just gonna continue trickling out and we’re gonna get probably some rate cuts. That is also gonna help loosen some of these people, I think, and make it a little easier for them to say, Fine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:33

    I’ll do it. I’ll vote for Biden. I hate Trump anyway, or I’ll just leave that blank.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:37

    Man, do I agree with this? Like, the economy getting better And the voters were, as I’ve said, all along, real lagging indicator on this, but you are starting to see it. Not just this one person, but now if you talk to two time, hard as in Trump voters. They’re very committed to the idea that everything is a disaster. But in these other groups where people are not committed to that, there was more of a sense of, like, things are still too expensive at the store, but, like, things are maybe getting better.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:05

    And I think that if that continues, like, the economy needs to be not a drag. It’d be great if it was a help, but it needs to be not a drag. And Biden needs to sort of clear the dementia bar for people. Okay. So I wanna do kinda one last thing, which is I wanna talk about some of the sound from these trump voters about how they thought about his comments that he was gonna be a day one dictator.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:31

    Let’s listen to that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:33

    Operating for dictators on day one. The undo what the previous president has done. Biden signed documents undoing lots of Trump’s policies on day one. The one thing about him is he’s upfront about it, but, as far as being a capital d dictator, I can’t see that happening. I just cannot.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:54

    This country is not made that way.
  • Speaker 5
    0:35:57

    If he wanted to stop calling us Americans and calls purple people eaters. I believe he will give it his full effort to make anything he wants to do happen. Whether our system of checks and balances would allow those things to happen, that’s a completely other side of things. I really think we would give it his all to try.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:16

    I don’t think that’s a different side at all because that determines whether or not he can be successful and so many people make claims and say what they’re going to do but the Supreme Court, the Congress has power to stop the president when it becomes necessary.
  • Speaker 6
    0:36:34

    My biggest fear is that Trump he always thinks that he knows the best about everything, and he doesn’t listen to anyone that there’s no one to rein him back. Just like, you know, during COVID, where he said, Well, have you guys thought about trying bleach or, you know, it’s dangerous. It’s really dangerous. The fact that he’s surrounded by yes people, that don’t hold him back. And I don’t know where that could take us.
  • Speaker 6
    0:37:04

    It’s very scary for me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:06

    So I get asked a lot aren’t people afraid of Trump being an authoritarian? And this was a really good group. Nobody says authoritarian. Right? And we even gave them the word dictator.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:18

    No one talks about him being authoritarian, but they don’t like the sort of basic human it’s gotta be his way. And it will congress curb him and his behavior. So, like, listening to them, people are trying to kinda push him, but we’ve put out ads about it. This idea of, like, trump is is kind of a wannabe dictator. Do you think that lands with these voters who are kind of the double haters, double doubters?
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:42

    It didn’t land with these guys. These guys all thought that the guardrails. The guardrails old. Right? This is the, you know, the American system It can’t happen here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:52

    That was ultimately their view of it. And what’s funny to me is that there is a subset of double Trump voters who still support him, who, in the focus groups, think that absolutely dictatorships can happen here, and we’re living under one right now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:08

    That’s right. Joe Biden is the dictator.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:10

    Joe Biden is the dictator. Look at this. He stole the election. We are living under an illegitimate, you know, This guy can do anything he wants. Well, then why hasn’t still seen six killed Trump?
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:20

    Don’t, you know, we’ll forget about that. Right? Don’t don’t ask them that. So these guys were, I think, pretty grounded. It was a pretty good group.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:27

    But even so, this is why I just keep coming back to the stolen election stuff. And that they seemed so offended by the lie that that struck me as the the place to plow because the dictator’s stuff, they just didn’t believe that it could happen in America. They believed that abortion could go away. They didn’t talk specifically about this about there being a six week federal abortion ban, but I was picking up from the group that they could certainly envision a world in which Republicans were able to, more or less outlaw abortion. They saw that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:01

    That was real them. The idea of trump being a dictator for a day or or longer than a day just wasn’t something that they could see as as real and salient.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:10

    I think that’s right. Yeah. There was a sort of, like, every president’s a dictator. You know, they come in and they undo what the other guy did.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:16

    That’s what executive orders are. Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:18

    That’s right. And it’s a good reminder, I think, for people in this kinda democracy space of how average people are not thinking about this. And some of it is, comes from a good place in that, glad that people have a lot of confidence in American democracy, right, that they don’t think it could happen here on one hand. On the other hand, I do think that a lot of the Republican legislators who participate in Hawaii also think that American democracy is so durable that it can’t be undone by their, lying. So they’re happy to do it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:50

    And I think that is extremely wrong. And, of course, I think we have good guardrails, but we are not immune, from these things. But You are not gonna convince these guys not to vote for Donald Trump by calling him a dictator.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:03

    The most worrisome thing in all of this is that there is some percentage of Republican voters. Who want the dictator stuff. That’s right. Maybe it’s only twenty percent, maybe it’s sixty percent. But there is some percentage of them which look at this in, say, they believe that we are already living under a dictatorship, but the only problem is that it’s the wrong guy at the head of it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:23

    And that’s the thing which gets to the dangerous long term thing for the American system because I don’t know how you make all this Bulwark. When some large slice of the pie is not interested in the, hey, we all have elections, and sometimes my team wins, and sometimes my team loses.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:39

    And, actually, just to underscore this. I just from a group of flippers, so trump to Biden voters, we asked about the dictator thing, and I just wanna play a couple of clips from that.
  • Speaker 5
    0:40:48

    Who’s heard that Trump said that he would not be a dictator except on day one?
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:56

    Yeah. Actually, I did hear that, but it sounds like something he would say. Yeah.
  • Speaker 11
    0:41:01

    I’m sure he’s saying this to undo all of what he’s gotta fix when he’s getting office. That would be my guess as to why he’s saying it. I don’t think he’ll put military in the streets. I don’t think we’ve ever seen military in the streets. I wouldn’t take it to literal.
  • Speaker 11
    0:41:17

    What he said?
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:18

    So that last guy was the only person in this particular Trump to Biden group were doing who said he’d actually vote for Trump again because we do get sort of like one or two people in these Trump to Biden groups who are backsliding and say they’d go back to Trump. But we also asked this group whether things like putting the military in the streets or jailing political enemies or replacing civil servants with loyalists sounded like what a dictator would do. And Like, a majority of the group said yes, but it’s also clear that most people don’t take him nearly as seriously as we would like. You hear the guy kinda laugh. It sounds like something he would say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:54

    There is still just so much of the take him seriously, but not literally out there in voters that persists.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:02

    It’s as you say, this failure of imagination is in some ways a sign of health. Right? A healthy democracy is democracy in which it’s kind of unthinkable that it could devolve into autocracy. When you live in a democracy where, like, hey, you know, we’ll see how this election goes, that’s not a stable democracy. Those are typically what we classify as young democracies.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:26

    And we haven’t been in this place in America since the Civil War. We haven’t been in a place where, oh, well, I don’t know. We’ll see how the next election goes, and then maybe we’ll get free and fair elections after that or maybe we won’t. On the one hand, I’m grateful for the failure of imagination because I think it’s an important marker of health on another hand. Four warned is forearmed, and I’m glad that we have our friends in the democracy space doing spade work right now and preparing the lines of defense in case they’re needed?
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:55

    Well, it wouldn’t be a focus group podcast without an inherent contradiction being presented by the voters. That’s just what happens when you dig into this. JBL, my friend. Thank you so much for doing this. Thanks to all of you for listening to another episode of the Focus Secret Podcast.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:12

    We will be back next week. Go rate subscribe, do all the things, and we’ll catch you guys later.
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