August 9, 2022

Trump Didn’t Form a Populist Coalition; He Was the Result of One

PITTSBURGH — They’re still there, planted in front of stately homes in wealthy suburban neighborhoods, on flagpoles in middle-class communities and along the front stoops of inner-city row houses.

Whether they say “Trump 2020” or simply “Trump,” there are plenty of people who have left their sentiments planted on their own personal hill.

It is not just here in Pennsylvania. The signs are not hard to spot as you travel to the Great Lakes, the Midwest and Appalachia.

The reason is complex. People who come from a variety of socioeconomic, religious and political experiences formed a conservative populist coalition long before Donald Trump descended Trump Tower’s escalator in June 2015 in New York City.

Political analysts, who often have little cultural connection to Republican voters, tend to say “Trump the man” is why his supporters voted for him. So, using that same line of thinking, if they came here and saw the Trump signs, they likely would proclaim these people were Trump cultists and end their curiosity.

They are wrong in two ways.

First, “Trump the man” did not form this coalition. Rather, he was the result of it. This was evident during the 2006 midterm elections when Republicans lost power. Analysts ignored the fact that Main Street Democrats, Republicans and independent voters were voting against the Republican establishment because they were unhappy with the establishment ignoring their needs, not because they loved Democrats.

The pendulum swung further away from Republicans again in 2008 and then toward them again. By 2016, the voters who were to become Trump’s base already knew who they were. Trump was the only one of 17 Republicans and five Democrats who stood out to this group of politically homeless voters. He knew how to tap the aspirations they were looking for from a presidential candidate.

Second, many people who have left their support for Trump visible to others have not left those flags or signs up because they think the election was stolen. It’s not a testament to their undying support for one man; they’ve left them up because it is their only way to show the political class that they are not going away.

This conservative populist coalition ushered in more Republican elected officials down the ballot in November than any pollster or analyst predicted in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Arizona. These voters are reminding themselves and others that they are still part of something big.

All you have to do is listen to them. The questions hurled at them, regardless of the subject matter, usually attempt to tie them to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol or begin with, “Isn’t it racist … ”

Cultural curators in the media, corporations and the so-called social justice warriors just can’t dislodge themselves from their narrow idea that if you voted for Trump or any other Republican, you are part of this thing that needs to become extinct.

These voters are telling you through their signs that that is not going to happen.

Even among the conservatives who found themselves voting for Joe Biden, they might not have Trump signs in their yard, but they certainly voted Republican down-ballot.

Just ask the newly sworn-in Republicans representing the Pennsylvania suburbs of Mount Lebanon, McCandless or in Oakmont state House and Senate districts, who won seats in the suburbs Trump lost.

Democrats are going to struggle to win these voters back for U.S. House and Senate seats if they decide to pack the courts, make D.C. a state in order to gain partisan power in the Senate, encourage corporations to boycott states and downplay the crisis on the border.

These voters did not succumb to the pressures of 2020 woke-ism. They are unlikely to bend in less than two years.

The next time you see a Trump sign in someone’s yard, try to suppress your conditioned impulse and consider that it might be something more nuanced, more complex than the lazy stereotypical hot take anyone can post on social media.

(SET IMAGE) szi042021adAP.jpg (END IMAGE) (SET CAPTION) People who come from a variety of socioeconomic, religious and political experiences formed a conservative populist coalition long before Donald Trump descended Trump Tower’s escalator in June 2015 in New York City. Photo by Shannon Venditti. (END CAPTION)

Salena Zito is a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner. She reaches the Everyman and Everywoman through shoe-leather journalism, traveling from Main Street to the beltway and all places in between. To find out more about Salena and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at


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TRT35 (@guest_1218579)
1 year ago

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Billy (@guest_1219167)
Reply to  TRT35
1 year ago

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Stephen Russell (@guest_1218678)
1 year ago

He boosted the populist cause X100 alone & continues today

S.L. (@guest_1218708)
1 year ago

I agree with this article. We the people stand for this country and it’s constitution not for the standard old weak do nothing Republicans. Time for a strong, stick together Republican Party! People who stand up for fair, and just decisions for all the people and our constitution in this country. Time to take back our country, strengthen our borders, take back all that Biden and his radical groups put into law and/or outlawed (laws that President Trump signed) and strengthen our relationships with other countries, strengthen our laws when it comes to the police, rioters and criminals who don’t follow the laws and that’s anyone no matter if they are black, white, brown or yellow or a different nationality. Put our country and citizens first! The government works for us and not the other way around. We are tired of the swamp and their lying, hateful, power grabbing BS. Democrats needs to go and now!!!

D Bent (@guest_1218748)
Reply to  S.L.
1 year ago

People voted for him because he WAS NOT the swamp. They wanted someone who would actually walk the talk. HE DID and it pissed off the swamp cuz it cut into their profits. Had NOTHING to do with color, culture, or race.

Donnie (@guest_1218965)
Reply to  D Bent
1 year ago

YOU are dead on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kay Cullimore (@guest_1218834)
1 year ago

He actually loves America and wanted to help us stay free unlike our present administration. He may have had some rough edges, but his heart was true. It still is despite all the crap he has had to endure from the left. He still loves American and the American people. Bless you President Trump. I am grateful for all the good you did for our country and am sick at heart to see the dems tear it all down just to prove that they have power now. But hopefully they won’t have power for long.

Marie (@guest_1218862)
1 year ago

Biden and Harris need to be impeached and any Democrat that can not stand for America and our Constitution need to go to. Call, write and email your Representatives Senators daily until we get results. Write to the supreme Court about the treason committed in the election. Urge them to rethink their decision to not look into the election fraud before our country goes down in flames.
US Supreme Court, 1 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20543
You cannot call or email — you must write a letter!!!
Members of the House
Members of the Senate
Stop complaining start calling and writing before its to late. I call and write everyday. 74million of us voted for Trump bombard these people with calls and letters.

MistyDawn (@guest_1218889)
1 year ago

Believe me, it does no good to call, email, or write to those old selfish, establishment politicians. I have been doing this for over four years, and they just toss it out with the bath water.



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