Unlike the large majority of national political writers and journalists, I’ve spent every second of the last six years of Trump-dominated politics living in the heart of Trump country. In 2016, my home county—rural Maury County, Tennessee—voted for Trump in the primary and then voted overwhelmingly for him in the general election. He beat Hillary Clinton by almost 40 points.
By 2020, we’d moved one county north, to suburban Williamson County, where Trump won by “only” 26 points. According to the New York Times neighborhood political calculator, I live in a particularly thick Republican bubble. Roughly 85 percent of my neighbors vote Republican.
So I never struggled to understand why Republicans supported Trump. I didn’t just watch his political and spiritual takeover of the GOP. I lived it. I experienced friends and family members moving from disgust, to acceptance, to holding their nose and voting, and then to celebrating the man they once reviled. And if you were there, you could often sense the change before it was apparent in the polls or in the press.
And now I’m sensing another change. Ordinary Republicans are starting to pry themselves apart from Trump, and the reason is interesting: Trump’s base is starting to tick people off. They’ve had enough.