With the list of scandals and missteps plaguing Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign growing by the day, it may seem like his supporters have fewer and fewer reasons to stick with the Republican nominee.
From comments about ‘bad hombres,’ to an apparent unwillingness to accept an election result in favour of Hillary Clinton, to allegations of sexual misconduct, there’s not much more the business mogul could do to alienate the American electorate, and yet many voters still say they want him as their president.
The question is, why?
“It’s more my distrust and dislike for (Clinton) than being a Donald Trump fan,” explained Louie Reda, a longtime Republican who was raised in Montreal but moved to New Jersey more than 20 years ago.
“Given the choice, I would vote for him over her any day, and twice on Tuesday.”
Reda, whose wife is a Colombian immigrant, said he would never characterize himself as being on the extreme-right, nor does he agree with every one of Trump’s views, especially on immigration. But the idea of casting a ballot for Clinton is unfathomable.
“I think she’s a phony, I think she’s a liar. I think they’re just part of the big machine, her and her husband.”
Celebrity backers and editorial endorsements of Clinton only repulse Reda further.
“You know what? Don’t tell me what to do. Let me make my own decisions,” he said.
“I don’t like people who use the big stage, the big forum to express their political affiliation and force it down our throats. We’re all adults, let us make our own decision.”
That stance — especially the view of Trump as the anti-establishment candidate — is one shared by Republicans across America, and it’s one of the main reasons they have clung to their candidate, even through a month of ever-worsening headlines.
WATCH: How exactly do Americans elect their president?
Among those steadfastly refusing to abandon Trump are right-leaning female voters, who have stayed with him even as more and more women come forward to accuse the Republican nominee of sexual misconduct.
According to Melissa Deckman, Chair and Professor of Political Science at Washington College in Maryland, there are a number of reasons why droves of Republican women have stayed the course.
“These women … the ones who are really sticking by Trump, prioritize things like national security and immigration to a much stronger extent than do women and men who back Hillary Clinton,” said Deckman, who studied far-right female voters in depth for her book, Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Activists, and the Changing Face of the American Right.
“For them, he has a better shot at keeping America safe, by means that they find to be perfectly reasonable.”
While most Americans disagree with an outright ban on Muslims or building a wall along the Mexican border, she said, “a lot of these women on the right think these are reasonable (plans) that will keep them and their families safer.”
Like male Republicans, they may also be lifelong partisans who will always vote for the GOP, regardless of the candidates on the ticket.
And like Reda, they find Clinton totally unpalatable. Many of the women Deckman follows online will admit that they can’t defend Trump’s behaviour, but they point to Clinton’s alleged actions as being far worse.
That includes staying married to Bill Clinton, who has also faced accusations of sexual assault.
“They don’t really necessarily think that she has any moral high-ground in this respect,” Deckman said.
WATCH: Trump attacks Bill Clinton for alleged abuse to women
According to Deckman, income is not the best predictor of whether an American is likely to support Trump. Low-income whites are behind him, but so are their middle-class and wealthy neighbours.
It’s their level of education that matters, she said, and particularly the lack of a college education.
“A lot of people, especially the white working class, had parents and families where the dad worked, he didn’t have a college education, and it was enough to support a middle-class lifestyle,” Deckman explained.
“That simply isn’t the case today and Trump has really tapped into that. It’s a legitimate grievance.”
Even with this seemingly unshakable base, Trump has found himself with little room to grow beyond his core supporters.
WATCH: Trump tells supporters not to believe poll numbers
His victory is almost assured in states like Tennessee, Wyoming, Kentucky and Oklahoma, but the negative headlines over last few weeks have cost him dearly in swing states.
Recent polls show Clinton opening up a double-digit lead nationally. The New York Times predicts she now has a 93 per cent chance of sending Trump packing on Nov. 8.
In Reda’s mind, that will mean “status quo” in the White House for the next four years.
“People say ‘it’s OK if Hillary wins, nothing is going to change,'” he said.
“Well that’s the problem. Nothing’s going to change … the status quo is the last thing we need.”
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