, 04.26.2023 09:19 PM

My latest: NO MAGA

As in politics, as in comedy: it’s all about timing.

Take MAGA, for instance (please). The Make America Great Again movement indisputably revolutionized American politics. Possibly world politics, too.

Whether you like MAGA or not, it can’t be denied: “Make America Great Again” transformed a reality show host into the most powerful man on Earth.

And Donald Trump’s MAGA timing was perfect.

White, 50-something American men — the ones who used to run the country — were angry. They felt like they had been forgotten.

They had lost power they once had. Technological change and globalization, they believed, had cost them their jobs. Cultural change — feminism, civil rights and immigration, mainly — had left them feeling they’d lost their relevance at home and in Washington.

And economic change had cost them their way of life — their ability to provide for their families. So, circa 2016, they were angry. Really angry.

They didn’t want an experienced member of the elites anymore. They didn’t want Hillary Clinton, who they saw as the literal (and liberal) embodiment of everything they hated.

They wanted a maniac, basically, to disrupt everything. They wanted to upend every apple cart. They wanted to break everything and start over again.

Brexit came first, in June 2016, and basically was the British version of MAGA. And then, a few months later, came Donald Trump — whose red-hatted “Make America Great Again” arrived at precisely the right moment.

MAGA, as this space has suggested before, wouldn’t have worked if it had just been MAG – Make America Great. The addition of that single word, Again, is what connected Trump — a billionaire, Fifth Avenue New Yorker — to those forgotten, angry white 50-something men.

They were prepared to overlook his (many) sins and shortcomings to get back to how things used to be. So they put a man wholly unsuited for the job in the Oval Office. And Trump kept up his end of the bargain, and got to work breaking everything.

And now? Well, now, MAGA isn’t so great anymore.

NBC News released a big national poll on Wednesday. As NBC put it: “Just 24% of Americans have positive views of the movement, while 45% voice negative views … A slight majority of Republicans — 52% — view the MAGA movement positively, as well as 53% of those who define themselves as conservative.

Independents also rated the movement negatively, with just 12% viewing it positively, while 45% say they have negative views of the movement.”

And that independent segment is key. In the US, the Democrats and the Republicans each hold about a third of committed voters. So it’s that middle third, the independents, who decide who controls the White House and Congress.

And independents don’t like MAGA. Outside of their white, rural, high school-only base, MAGA lost support everywhere, with every demographic.

Why? The NBC poll doesn’t say. But it may simply be a case of timing: it’s hard to remain angry forever. And, with job growth growing, and inflation fading, the MAGA folks simply have fewer targets to shoot at.

Which is why President Joe Biden targeted MAGA in his big announcement this week — that he’s running again. Said Biden: “MAGA extremists are lining up to take bedrock freedoms away.”

Biden isn’t as popular as he should be. Trump remains the favourite of Republicans. Which presents the biggest irony of all: the Democrats may have the wrong guy, but they have the right message. And Republicans may have the right guy, but they’ve got the wrong message.

Which is MAGA. And which is the reason, more than any other, that Joe Biden is going to win.

Kinsella has worked on the campaigns of Clinton and Biden.


  1. Warren,

    Biden has three big problems: his rapidly advancing age is the least of the three. The second is his beloved blind spot called Hunter. He should have vetted his son. Oh well. And the third, poll numbers. Trump was nowhere recently and now is at the head of the pack. Never say never about Trump winning but far more worrisome for Biden is a potential poll shift between now and election day. Trump could still beat Biden but imagine if someone else ultimately gets the nomination. Then Biden, at best, is toast. Turnout is everything and the angry almost always show up.

    I still say that Biden needed to be turfed.

  2. Steve T says:

    Perhaps Biden will win. I sure hope so, if Trump or DeSantis is the opponent. But golly, he sure is not the optimal horse for this race.
    It seems there were a variety of ways for Biden to bow out gracefully – and at least half a dozen Dems who are far more qualified and more likely to win than Biden.
    Biden looks even older, more frail, and less cogent than he did 4 years ago. If I were the GOP, that would be my entire campaign. Don’t focus on the GOP candidate (esp if it is Trump) – just focus on Biden’s obvious aging-out of the job.

  3. the salamander says:

    … I like this perspective.. a ton ! Well done, well said !

  4. Curious V says:

    Even though Biden is older, I still think he’s the best option. He doesn’t inspire people as much as a younger version of him would, but the slate of issues at hand is enough to inspire moderates. The extremes of MAGA will do a lot to inspire people to vote against Ttump.

  5. Tod Cowen says:

    National polls don’t tell us much, since the election will be decided in a handful of states: Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, maybe New Hampshire, and–to be really pedantic–the second district in Maine. Several of these states had margins of less than one percent in 2020.

    In 2022, bad and truly horrible Senate candidates (Walker, Oz, Laxalt, Masters) ran strongly against decent Democrats, with the margins in all of those races at 5 percent or below. My takeaway is that the Republican base in the key swing states is still quite strong, and very capable of coming out more strongly for Trump. That’s especially true if their state parties pivot to embrace early and absentee voting and neutralize a major Dem advantage.

    Trump has taken a lot of hits since 2020, but Biden’s aging balances that out–at least. With regret, I’m not quite as ready as Warren to write off Trump’s prospects.

    PS–love the Tom Thomson tweets. Keep them coming.

  6. Curious V says:

    I wish the same could be said of Alberta, with a radical about to retain the premiership. Looks like Notley, a progressive voice in Alberta, and as a more popular leader than her competition, is about to lose to a radical. PP is winning in national poles as well – so the radical element in Canadian politics is alive an well.

  7. Curious V says:

    It’s important to point out, to those wondering about who to vote for in the federal election, that Daniel Smith and PP share the same base, and are ideological soulmates. Both from the fringe of Alberta Conservatism.

  8. Peter Williams says:

    Since C11 has passed and is waiting Royal assent, and I don’t want to run afoul of the upcoming internet content regulations, I thought I’d practice saying positive things about our Illustrious Debonair Intelligent Outstanding Talented Dear Leader.

    Nope, can’t do it.

    Where did you stay Justin, and how much did it cost? Both for the visit and the all the promises you made.

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