In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s comments about the NFL, lots of folks on the Right decided that — regardless of the merits of Trump’s argument — that the politics would work in his favor. After all, the #resistance was moving from wearing vagina hats to actually kneeling during the national anthem. How would that look to the rest of America? Wouldn’t they agree that people that disrespectful should be fired?
Not so fast. It turns out that in a highly-polarized country that when you wash virtually any issue through partisan politics, it gets, well, partisan. Check out these polling numbers — First, here are the results a poll of swing state voters from GOP firm Firehouse Strategies:
The nation is deeply divided about the issues that Donald Trump has exposed regarding the NFL and player protests. 38.1% of those surveyed agree with Trump’s assertion that players who kneel should be fired, while 39.1% disagree. The remaining 22.8% are not sure.
However, there is a strong majority belief that Donald Trump should be focused on other issues. 35.9% of those surveyed believe it is important for him to highlight this issue, while 64.1% say he should have his focus elsewhere. A slight majority of Republicans say it is important (54.0%), but Independents (41.1%) and Democrats (13.4%) don’t believe so.
Next, a Reuters poll finds that a strong majority of Americans (58 percent to 33 percent) believe professional athletes should be required to stand for the anthem, similarly strong majorities believe they shouldn’t be fired if they don’t (57 percent to 29 percent) and that the president shouldn’t comment on how NFL players conduct themselves during the anthem (53 percent to 35 percent.)
Of course we’ve learned to take any given poll with a grain of salt, but it looks like the issue is far from a political slam dunk for Trump. In fact, you can put almost any American issue through the Trump filter, and opinion will polarize, fast.
One final thought: Let’s not forget that Trump won the presidency in large part because many thousands of black voters in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Milwaukee stayed home rather than vote for Hillary Clinton. Will they stay home again if Trump launches sustained attacks not on a corrupt longtime white politician but rather on some of the most popular African-Americans in the world?