Trump's grassroots whimper in New Hampshire.
But the bite is far worse.
Since the day after Donald Trump announced for President, I’ve been to scores of Trump events in New Hampshire. I witnessed the instant and then exponential growth of the support during the first months of his campaign in 2015.
My “peak” Trump event was in August 2019, when the carnival like atmosphere outside resembled—depending on your age—a Grateful Dead or Tyler Swift concert tour. Vendors in tent after tent selling junky but expensive swag, throngs of fans gawking at a walking ten foot tall Uncle Sam and various Trump impersonators. Adjacent, a counter-protest estimated in the low six figures offered a fifty-foot snake with Trump’s head, and very different Trump costumes than would found just over the police barrier that divided the two groups.
But on January 28, 2023, it appears the Trump fever has broken. Sadly it’s left a toxic residue that will poison our politics for years, and even this anemic turnout of Trump supporters can still be a winning force that captures thirty-percent of the vote in a multi-candidate GOP primary field. Trump’s support seems to have diminished in size, but intensified with those remaining.
So how lame was the turnout of Trump fanatics to greet him at his very first campaign event in New Hampshire for the 2024 election?
Standing on a snow bank, above is the view from the left and below is the view from the right.
That’s a pretty bad turnout for The Donald, who once drew thousands of followers from half-way across the country. Not today, which doesn’t bode well for the fragile Trump ego who will forever remember those big crowds. (Imagine the psychological trauma Trump’s staff experiences when he’s
talking yelling about all this?)
What was lost in crowd size was made up by the fanaticism of these dead-enders. Bringing “spirituality” to the event was a true believer who played the Trump QAnon medley Trump began reciting last summer.
Contrast this QAnon flavored Trumpism of today with the conservative grassroots support Trump had in 2015, and you quickly realize that Trump support is thin and dense. And dangerous.
Which brings us to the presence of the Proud Boys—the Neo-nazi group that currently has five members of their leadership being tried for seditious conspiracy related to Jan. 6th—who are now a new norm at Trump events.
Sure, there are some “main stream” Republicans supporting Trump. But on this day, the ”political insiders” were inside a high school building—which this Trump crowd was standing outside of—attending the NH GOP convention that Trump was addressing.
The “vibe” outside felt as if ninety-five percent of the thousands of very conservative people who I’ve seen at Trump events, disappeared and only the most committed five percent remained and showed up today.
Of course it’s too early, but it is another datapoint that indicates the wind is out of Donald J. Trump’s sails. Enough to lose a two-way race in the primary—which ain’t happening—but certainly enough to capture what is shaping up to be a crowded GOP primary field. (And big enough to feed his ego if he decides on a third party challenge in the 2024 general election.)
Finally, even the counter protesters are getting tired of Trump’s act. Large counter protests were the norm back in the Trump heyday, but today it was just a couple of people. When I told them that Trump’s arrival was still an hour away, they—like me—left shortly afterward.
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