Safe space is shrink­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE - GREG SAR­GENT

In re­cent days, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has es­ca­lated his as­saults on the “Fake News” me­dia and other in­sti­tu­tions in an in­creas­ingly fran­tic ef­fort to carve out a kind of safe space that can­not be pen­e­trated by ac­count­abil­ity or fac­tual re­al­ity.

In­side this bub­ble, the truth is what Trump says it is, on Twit­ter and in his tirades be­fore rally crowds, where Twit­ter replies (even by bots) and rau­cous cheers serve as con­fir­ma­tion of Trump’s ver­sions of events in a kind of in­ten­si­fy­ing feed­back loop.

But if the bru­tal new poll re­leased Tues­day by CNN is any in­di­ca­tion, that safe space seems per­ilously small.

Trump’s own ad­vis­ers ap­pear to be­lieve his safe space is shrink­ing. As The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported Tues­day, this is what ex­plains his re­cent an­tics:

The pres­i­dent has in­creased his me­dia-bash­ing via Twit­ter and staged ral­lies hop­ing to mar­shal his base to his de­fense. There are signs that his sup­port among Repub­li­cans may be soft­en­ing. His ad­vis­ers are aware that a se­ri­ous slip in sup­port among his core vot­ers could jeop­ar­dize hopes for a ma­jor, early leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ment and would cer­tainly in­crease Repub­li­cans’ worries about his re-elec­tion prospects.

Tues­day’s CNN poll con­firms that Trump’s sup­port is shrink­ing. It finds that his ap­proval is down to 38 per­cent, with 56 per­cent dis­ap­proval. Only 37 per­cent say he has the right pri­or­i­ties, while 59 per­cent say he hasn’t paid at­ten­tion to the coun­try’s most im­por­tant prob­lems. Amer­i­cans say by only 43 per­cent to 55 per­cent that he can bring the change the coun­try needs.

But more in­ter­est­ing, per­haps, is what the CNN poll tells us about his over­all com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy:

● 55 per­cent say Trump has low­ered the stature of the pres­i­dency, while only 17 per­cent say he has raised it, and an­other 25 per­cent say it is un­changed.

● Only 31 per­cent say Trump’s ac­tions have made them more con­fi­dent in his abil­ity to serve as pres­i­dent, while a stag­ger­ing 62 per­cent say they’ve left re­spon­dents less con­fi­dent.

● A to­tal of 73 per­cent have low trust in what they hear in of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the White House: 30 per­cent trust noth­ing at all and 43 per­cent trust just some of it, while 19 per­cent trust most of it and 5 per­cent trust al­most all of it — mean­ing only 24 per­cent trust what this White House tells them.

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