My sense has been that merely approving of the job Trump is doing is not a "base," which by definition is a strong foundation that supports everything else. It's the ones Trump refers to as standing by him even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, that have the undying loyalty of near-religious supplicants who are the rock-sold base, and that's 20-25%. The other 15-20% are lifetime Republicans who have either just always voted GOP and have a hard time not doing so, or who dislike Democrats and can't see supporting them, or feel that as a Republican they simply should support the Republican president, period, or for any other number of reasons. They are Republican loyalists, not Trump Supporters to the death, they approve of Trump but not in an acolyte, "he can do no wrong" and is a gift from God sort of way. They support him out of convenience or necessity, but are not his "base." And they are the ones who can be peeled away (and have in recent weeks, taking his approval to 39%, down five points since the release of the Muller Report). They may not vote for the Democratic candidate in 2020, but they may find it too difficult to vote for Trump and skip the presidential race -- or perhaps even stay away all together..
Which brings us to an article yesterday in the Washington Post by conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin. The piece is about Trump's base support is not as strong as many other think, going into a long analysis (which you can find here), that refers to a detailed poll by the Democracy Fund Voter Study which, among other things, unlike most polls has tracked specific people over time. One notable statistic she points is that almost 20% of Obama voters who switched to Trump have dropped their support of Trump. She makes two important observations from this. The first is that Obama-Trump voters are "disproportionately white, non-college educated and, as a result, are likely to be well distributed geographically for the purpose of electoral impact.: And the second is similar to one that I've long advocated (and noted here) about how you don't have to convince ALL supporters of a candidate vote differently for it to make a difference, but that just switching 3 points can turn a razor-thin 51-49% election into a 54-46% landslide. She writes, "Even small movement among these voters — who represented 5 percent of voters in 2016 — may prove significant heading into the 2020 presidential election."
But it was one particular statistic which stood out to me when she wrote -- "Notably, there are now almost twice as many Americans with a “very unfavorable” opinion of the president than there are those with a “very favorable” opinion (49 percent vs. 25 percent)."
And that's precisely what I wrote about at the beginning -- that's the 25% I've said I believe are Trump's actual base. Not the 39% who steadily approve of Trump, but the only 25% who have a "very favorable" opinion of him. And that "25%" might include a few straggler carryovers who are in that group who support Trump out of convenience or necessity but not if he "shot" someone on Fifth Avenue, and so could conceivably not vote for him. Which brings Trump's base perhaps to 23% -- which is with the 20-25% range I've suggested.
No, this isn't proof. But it's supporting evidence of what I've written about and discussed for a long time. Everyone who supports Trump is not his "base." His base is solidly smaller than most think. I thinik.