What has kept Donald Trump in the presidential race is his electoral base. It consists of white men, rural and small-town voters and small-business owners. The big bucks for the campaign come from a coterie of wealthy loyalists. This bloc will stick with Trump whatever he says or does.
But the attitude of other groups that one might expect to be Trump’s natural supporters, such as big business, financial markets, a lobby like the chamber of commerce – “capital”, in other words – is far less clear cut. If anything, as Joe Biden’s lead has stabilised, so too has their optimism. With an eye to an impending shift of power, the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a cluster of Democrats in tight House races, provoking outrage from the president. These unexpected alignments point to the scrambling of assumptions that is characteristic of the Trump era.
The GOP is normally the party of business. The president himself is a businessman. His administration has been stacked with plutocrats, CEOs and lobbyists. It has delivered tax cuts and deregulation. The tax-collecting IRS is a shell of its former self; the Environmental Protection Agency has been gutted, and financial regulations slashed. Trump has packed the courts with judges who will deliver judgments against labour rights, environmentalism protection and business regulation. If, as seemed possible at the beginning of this year, the US economy had stayed on course and the Dems had selected the leftwing Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders as their candidate to run against Trump, the battle lines would have been clearly drawn.
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