A lot is being made of early polling that shows Warren or Biden winning the primary despite his/her widespread unpopularity. The assumption is that all the haters will coalesce behind Trump in a replay of 2016.
But it occurs to me that the polling hasn’t captured Trump’s deep-seated unpopularity. Setting aside that basket of deplorables who genuinely like him, I suspect that a significant slice of habitual Republican voters genuinely despise him as much as all Democrats do. They hate him so much, in fact, that he’s poisoned their view of all politicians–even clean cut, unspoiled ones like Buttigieg, self-described moderates-who-share-their-heartland-values like Klobuchar, and especially sure-thing, born-to-do-this next-Obama-or-RFKs like Harris or Booker or Beto, who they see, rightly or wrongly, as media creations that are too-good-to-be-true.They hate him so much that they likely even hate the people (Biden, Warren, Bernie) that they reluctantly intend to vote for to replace him. They’ve at least been around long enough, and in Bernie and Warren’s cases, are outsiders enough that they assume they won’t be as awful as Trump..
This is more in the realm of psychoanalysis than polling, but polling normalizes things in a way that has to distort them in a time that is as out of joint as ours is. Let me put it this way. If you spend all your time looking at those deplorables or weighing the Democrats’ unfavorables, Trump seems unbeatable. His partisans would not only forgive him for shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, they would like him to build death camps for their enemies. But there is a significant majority that hates him. Trump’s strategy is not to win their votes, but to suppress them.