Donald Trump
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As the White House has descended into medieval farce, with courtiersvying for influence and longevity in the face of an erratic king, there's been a projected narrative that many have clung on to.

The expectation, from a combination of the liberal and the desperate, has been that President Trump would be found out - that the failure to understand and pull the right levers of government would prove his undoing. His very narrow limitations would be exposed and America would turn away from him in revulsion.

That may, in large part, be true. Large swathes of America might experiencing a severe case of buyer's remorse, but there's also a counter-narrative. That there's enough left who are enjoying the spectacle to make President Trump a much longer running farce than many expected. That you can be president of the 35% and still survive.

Take Virginia. Even in a political atmosphere where the unexpected is normal, the state of Virginia is often quite the contrarian. One of only five states to hold statewide elections in neither Presidential nor Congressional years, it also has a long proud history (well, since Jimmy Carter anyhow) of looking at a new president and, a mere year later, voting firmly against him.

This year, there's the distinct possibility of Virginia acting in the most contrary way yet. They may well vote for a Republican. They may back their new President.

On the face of it, that seems absurd. Charlottesville is in Virginia. You may remember they had some problems, violence prompted by white supremacist marches. And those problems came under the stewardship of a President who began his political career trying to source Barack Obama's birth certificate, an action only nominally prompted by an interest in electoral process and mostly rooted in issues of race.

And when the white supremacists clashed with protestors in Charlottesville, Trump was distinctly lacklustre in condemning the provocations of the right and positively supportive over retaining the statues that depict slavery for many. It shouldn't play well from there.

But the numbers from social media analysis company Impact Social show something different. Something to worry those awaiting a Trump implosion.

Impact Social looked at posts on social media and in open news forums between August 22nd and September 12th.

The riots would have been fresh in the minds, as well as the President's reaction. Hurricane Irma on the way and North Korea toying with the world - and all to the soundtrack of the White House soap opera.

So Democrat candidate Ralph Northam ought to be well clear. The social media numbers show him with a positive rating in 40% of posts. That compares to a 29% rating for his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie. And yet...


The negative rating for both is similar at 23/25%, and that's often the number that's hard to shift. Oddly, the more striking figure is the 'neutral' one. Forty six per cent of voters are neither here nor there about a candidate who backs a President who has been ambivalent over race riots, who is running a chaotic administration and who has yet to pass a single significant piece of legislation. How much worse would it have to be to get a reaction from these people?


Now, you can take into account that Gillespie has run a more energetic and aggressive campaign, and that Northam has tried to sit back and let events speak for themselves. Yet Virginians can watch the riots on TV and not be moved. The 29% positive ratings on the social media figures and the 35% presented by opinion polls as the President's approval ratings show that, roughly, a third of the electorate would back him no matter what.


They can look at geographical divisions (liberal coast versus conservative heartlands); at racial divides and at a nation increasingly isolated on the world stage and still finding voting for Trump acceptable. The man is transcending party politics and becoming a representation of a significant chunk of the nation. He is a President of the Third, often characterised as white working class, and you won't find a more loyal and unshiftable bunch it seems.


In the UK, 35% is an electoral strategy - get that, and you've a good chance of winning an election. In the US's more rigorously two party system, you need more. But if that 35% isn't for changing its mind and the remainder vacillate between the parties or, more likely, give up politics in exasperation, then the expectation of an electoral implosion just isn't going to happen.

The state of Virginia could confound expectations again, and back Trump's man.

Jimmy Leach is a digital consultant, working on platforms and communications for governments, corporations and start-ups.