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Aug 22, 2023

It was one of countless interviews given by a gaggle of presidential candidates that could have gone largely unnoticed. How does describing a specific sect of GOP voters as “listless vessels” compare to one of the greatest hits of the 2016 campaign, “a basket of deplorables?”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking to the Florida Standard last week, specifically said this: “If all we are is listless vessels that’s just supposed to follow, you know, whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable movement.”

Now, I’m no fan of his politics, but in that moment, he was absolutely correct. The Trump campaign and others have jumped on the comment as synonymous with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 insult. The faux outrage about the term, once again, conveniently overshadows the important part: cults of personality don’t make for successful governing philosophies.

There were two polls released last week that back up the sad truth of the controversial comment, though data rarely moves any listless vessel. 

First, AP/NORC released a poll that showed many things, but none more important than one particularly hard truth. 53% of Americans are saying they “definitely won’t” vote for Donald Trump next year, and another 11% say they “probably won’t” vote for him either. 

Uh, that’s 64% of Americans who aren’t listless. They aren’t aimlessly floating along waiting for the next absurdity. Their vessel has docked, they have disembarked, and have moved on. It’s that other 36% that almost all of the GOP is courting with their campaigns. 

Second, in a CBS/YouGov poll, disturbing data showed how listless the bulk of that deep minority has become. 

Among Trump voters, the question was asked who is it that you “feel what they tell you is true?” The answers here are stunning.


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