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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Trump Amnesia

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The 2024 race has begun. The nomination phase has effectively ended.  With Super Tuesday, the withdrawal of Nikki Haley, and the State of the Union, the general election campaign has begun.

 A recent survey of voters who did not support Trump in 2020—conducted in three key swing states by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin and shared with the New Republic—found that less than a third of them had heard “a lot” about Trump’s most recent authoritarian statements, like his vow to be “dictator for one day,” and his description of his political opponents as “vermin.”

The question is whether voters just don’t really care—or if they’ll turn against him once they are reminded of Trump’s record in office and plans for a second term.

The New York Times’ Jennifer Medina and Reid Epstein tackled this question earlier this week with a piece aptly headlined “Do Americans Have a ‘Collective Amnesia’ About Donald Trump?”

It’s very much worth a read. They write: “More than three years of distance from the daily onslaught has faded, changed—and in some cases, warped—Americans’ memories of events that at the time felt searing. Polling suggests voters’ views on Mr. Trump’s policies and his presidency have improved in the rearview mirror. In interviews, voters often have a hazy recall of one of the most tumultuous periods in modern politics.”

Part of the problem is that many voters, especially the crucial bloc of younger ones, simply don’t remember Trump that well. Those turning eighteen and eligible to vote for the first time this fall were just ten years old and in grade school when Trump won the presidency, in 2016; the January 6 Capitol riots happened back when most of them were just starting high school. The rest of us don’t have memories that are as sharp and reliable as we’d like to think—it’s not just Joe Biden and Donald Trump who regularly get names wrong or forget in what year things occurred.