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Can Trump escape the ‘MAGA extremist’ label? I&I/TIPP poll


It has become increasingly common to hear both the media and Democratic politicians describe so-called MAGA followers of Donald Trump as “extremists.” Whether true or not, that label appears to have stuck among a large share of the American electorate and could pose a major challenge for Trump going forward, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.

In early May, we asked Americans the following question: “Do you agree or disagree with describing Trump supporters as MAGA extremists?” The online poll of 1,480 adults across the country was taken from May 3-5. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.6 percentage points.

The overall results suggest a possible electoral hurdle for the Trump campaign: Among those queried, 50% agreed that Trump supporters could be described as “MAGA extremists.” Roughly 39% said they disagreed.

Broken down a bit further, 34% said they “strongly agreed,” while 27% said they “strongly disagreed.” Another 16% said they agreed “somewhat,” versus 12% said they disagreed somewhat.

Not surprisingly, there was an overwhelming response depending on a person’s political affiliation. Some 70% of Democrats called MAGA followers “extremist,” compared with just 24% of Republicans and 46% of independents.

On the other side, 22% were Democrats, while 62% of Republicans and 40% of independents said the same.

Can Trump Escape The 'MAGA Extremist' Label? I&I/TIPP Poll

Once again, America’s fundamental schism has emerged. However, it is noteworthy that these polling data were taken before Trump’s triumphant appearance on CNN, during which he was loudly and repeatedly applauded by an in-studio audience.

The question is, if half of all people believe that Trump’s MAGA followers are extremists, where did the idea come from?

The answer is simple: It’s become a mainstream media talking point in response to what appears to be a concerted effort to tar Trump supporters as outside the norms of normal, small “d” democratic discourse.

The meme has become fairly pervasive. A quick Google search of “MAGA” and “extremist” yielded 767,000 hits, many of them recent.

Biden Says ‘MAGA Extremists Are Cut From a Different Cloth’,” “Biden Announces 2024 Bid, Takes Aim at ‘MAGA Extremists’,” “Biden warns U.S. democracy imperiled by Trump and Maga extremists,” “Embattled Biden Expected to Take a Break from ‘MAGA Extremist’ Attacks in State of the Union,” “A bulwark against MAGA extremism,” are just a small sampling of the hundreds of headlines over the past six months or so tagging Trump followers as “extremists” or worse.

There’s little question that it is a strategy of Democratic Party and White House strategists, who have made no secret of their fear of Trump going head-to-head with the highly unpopular Joe Biden.

Last November, White House adviser Anita Dunn revealed on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that portraying Trump followers as extremists “was a very effective strategy for kind of raising for the American people the hazards of going down that path with democracy denial, with the threats of political violence to achieve political ends, with an extremist program that involves denying women the right to an abortion.”

Did such rhetoric, repeated uncritically by left-leaning “mainstream media” outlets, halt the “red wave” election that would have swept Republicans into power in both the Senate and House? And what impact will it have in 2024’s presidential election?

On the first question, the answer seems to be “no.”

“Republicans in 2022 were caught flat-footed in securing reasonable limits to easy/early mail-in voting and were badly outspent by Democrats who used the rules and their resources for rounding up enough votes in the right places to block the red wave,” wrote James E. Campbell at RealClearWire just last week in a lengthy, tightly argued online dissection of what happened last November.

He added, “As George Washington Plunkitt, a late 19th-century leader of the legendary Tammany Hall political machine, might have said about those running the 21st-century version of political machines: ‘They seen their opportunities and they took ’em.’ ”

But as for the second question, regarding 2024, it seems certain that the Democrats will continue with what they see as a successful tactic: Portraying anyone who supports Trump as a beyond-the-pale extremist.

Biden brought the charge front-and-center in a dark, symbolically fraught speech he made last September outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia. In it, he essentially likened MAGA ideology to fascism, a stunning talking point picked up by many in the mainstream media.

Given Biden’s extraordinarily weak approval numbers, tainting Trump supporters as wild-eyed fanatics may be his best hope. In a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, Trump leads Biden by 45% to 38%, a shocking deficit for a sitting president to make up.

Biden appears to believe that, by stigmatizing Trump and his MAGA followers, he can soften Trump’s non-MAGA support enough to hold onto his faltering presidency. But even National Public Radio has admonished Biden that he “walks a fine line in (his) attack on MAGA Republicans.”

Right now, the I&I/TIPP Poll gives Trump a very hefty 38-point advantage over the No. 2 in the polls, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The RealClearPolitics polling average is about the same: 36 points.

But will it last? Washington Examiner Chief Political Correspondent Byron York recently wrote: “By the end of (this) week, the field will likely include Trump, DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, and Vivek Ramaswamy. Later, it could possibly include Mike Pence and others, perhaps Glenn Youngkin and Chris Sununu.”

For right now, Trump appears safe, given what York calls the “stature gap” between the former U.S. president and those he’s competing with. But a lot can happen in a year and a half. And come election time, Trump may have to fight off Democrat and media claims that his followers are “extremists,” or risk losing again to Biden.

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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TIPP Takes

Geopolitics And Geoeconomics

1. Ukraine War: Satellite Images Reveal Russian Defenses Before Major Assault – BBC

After months of stalemate, the expected assault will likely be a crucial test for Ukraine as it seeks to prove it can achieve significant battlefield gains with the weapons it has received from the West.

Can Trump Escape The 'MAGA Extremist' Label? I&I/TIPP Poll

2. Russians Celebrate Reports That ‘Fortress Bakhmut’ Has Fallen – Al Jazeera

Although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied that Bakhmut had fallen, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed otherwise in a voice memo to his Telegram followers.

Can Trump Escape The 'MAGA Extremist' Label? I&I/TIPP Poll

3. Ukraine: F-16s To Kyiv Would Raise NATO Question – Russia – D.W.

The transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv would raise the question of NATO’s involvement in the conflict, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said.

Can Trump Escape The 'MAGA Extremist' Label? I&I/TIPP Poll

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured President Biden that the jet would not be used to go into Russia’s territory.

Meanwhile, Antonov also said that any Ukrainian strike on Crimea would be considered a strike on Russia.

4. Moscow To Hold Russia-China Security Talks On Monday -RIA – Reuters

The head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, will hold talks with Chen Wenqing, a Chinese Communist Party Politburo member, who oversees the police, legal affairs, and intelligence.

Can Trump Escape The 'MAGA Extremist' Label? I&I/TIPP Poll

While the bilateral security talks are an annual event, Russia and China have moved to further strengthen their economic, political, and military ties since Moscow’s Ukraine invasion.

5. EU Foreign Ministers Debate New Russia Sanctions – dpa

EU capitals are yet to agree on new punitive measures on Russia that aim to crack down on sanctions evasion via countries outside of the bloc like Kazakhstan, Armenia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Can Trump Escape The 'MAGA Extremist' Label? I&I/TIPP Poll

Hungary has also threatened to block the latest round of sanctions over including the country’s largest bank, OTP, in the list of potential targets.

6. Biden Says U.S.-China Tensions To “Thaw Very Shortly” – Kyodo News

At a press conference in Hiroshima, Biden said that a Chinese spy balloon incident earlier this year spoiled the momentum to facilitate communication between senior officials of the two countries.

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He said a previous agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the importance of implementing a military hotline had rapidly soured in the wake of the balloon controversy as tensions escalated.

7. China Bans Major Chip Maker Micron From Key Infrastructure Projects – BBC

China’s cyberspace regulator, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), says products made by U.S. memory chip giant Micron Technology are a national security risk.

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The announcement from the CAC is the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Washington and Beijing, which has seen the U.S. impose several measures against China’s chip-making industry.

8. China Summons Japan Envoy To Protest G-7 Statement, Tokyo Counters – Kyodo News

Beijing summoned Hideo Tarumi, Japan’s ambassador to China, to lodge a “solemn” protest over references to Taiwan and other issues related to the nation in G-7 statements from the Hiroshima summit.

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Tarumi said it is “only natural” that such references were made and urged China to change course, the Japanese Embassy said.

9. Chinese Embassy In Britain Asks London To Stop Slandering China To Avoid Damage – Reuters

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Britain asked London to stop slandering and smearing China to avoid further damage to China-UK relations.

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This comes after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China represents the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity but that other leading economies should not decouple from it after a Group of Seven (G7) nations summit.

10. Iran Says Possible To Secure Waters Of Gulf With GCC Neighbors’ Cooperation – Al Arabiya

Iran said it can secure the safety of the strategic Gulf waters in cooperation with GCC neighbors amid heightened maritime tensions in the region with the U.S.

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Shipping traffic through the Gulf, specifically tanker transit through the Strait – the world’s most vital oil artery – have dominated the limelight in recent weeks after Iran seized two foreign-owned vessels sparking fears of renewed Iranian attacks targeting commercial shipping vessels in Gulf waters.

11. Saudi Arabia Condemns Israeli Minister’s Visit To Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound – Al Arabiya

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said such actions represent “a flagrant violation of all international norms and covenants” as well as a provocation to the sentiments of Muslims worldwide.

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Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday, a controversial move by the extreme-right politician amid heightened tensions in annexed east Jerusalem.

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Republished with permission from TIPP Insights

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