Donald Trump’s supporters have particularly intense brand of loyalty. No matter what his rivals throw at him, from substantive policy issues, party loyalty, questions of honesty and more, it doesn’t work. Time and again his supporters reply: they just don’t care.
"Primary exit polls find that Trump supporters are especially committed to their candidate," Vox wrote, quoting one who said "'nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street and my grandchildren' would stop her from voting for him."
“They remain unswayed or think more favorably of Trump” after attack ads.
“Trump,” summarized Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine, “has found a way to break all the norms of American politics at no political cost to himself.”
What can be said to turn the tide against a man whose supporters love him more in the face of criticism?
One way might be sports.
American partisans treat political identity like they do fandom, said University of Kansas political science professor Patrick Miller. For them, arguments only reinforce the us vs. them mentality that drives their voting in the first place.
“For as much criticism as there has been about him [Trump], I very strongly believe that he is not the problem as much as a symptom of a lot of underlying social trends that polite society would like to pretend doesn’t exist. He’s just coming along as the salesperson and taking advantage of that.”
What Miller suggests is that partisanship often has little to do with actual issues. Support for a candidate like Trump comes much more from group identity, sometimes held for life.