Despite losing a major presidential election, conservatives are urging liberals to earnestly listen to “half the country” that voted for Trump. But are we really talking about “half the country”?
There are 331 million people in America. That means “half the country” is 165.5 million people.
Did either candidate win support from “half the country”? No. In fact, no presidential candidate has ever received support from more than 50 percent of the population.
Trump received 74 million votes, or about 22% of the country. Biden, meanwhile, received 80 million votes, or about 24% of the country. So Trump voters constitute a little more than 1/5 of the country while Biden’s are a little less than 1/4.
As I like to say, democracy is pretty cool. We should try it some time.
But what about Trump’s base?
In the 2016 Republican primary, Trump received 14 million votes. That was enough to secure his party’s nomination for the presidency. But it’s just 4.2 percent of the country.
How about the people who regularly watch Fox News? The network’s highest ratings this fall hit 3.5 million people, or about 1 percent of the country.
How about the people who attended Trump’s rallies? If we add up the attendance at every 2016 Trump rally, it’s 1.4 million people. A lot of them were repeat attendees, but let’s be generous and count them all. Trump rally attendees represent 0.4 percent of the country.
Think of all the times you’ve seen Trump supporters in red hats on TV, in online news coverage, or on your social media feeds. They don’t represent “half the country.” They represent less than one half of one percent of the country.
So why do conservatives consistently say they represent “half the country”? It’s a rhetorical sleight of hand meant to inflate their support. In reality, conservatives represent a minority of the population and a minority of voters. That’s understandable. They have a lot of unpopular policy…