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Why the striking unpopularity of the ‘MAGA movement’ matters

Donald Trump is unpopular, but the so-called "MAGA movement" he helped lead and inspire enjoys even less public support.


The latest national NBC News poll asked respondents for the opinions about several prominent public figures and political entities, none of which were especially popular. Only 38% of American adults, for example, have a positive view of President Joe Biden, and the Democratic Party he leads fared about as well, with a 36% favorability rating.

The news for the right was slightly worse. Only 33% have a positive view of the Republican Party, which was roughly in line with Donald Trump’s 34% favorability rating.

But trailing all of them was a political movement of sorts. NBC News noted yesterday:

President Donald Trump is still unpopular and so is the political movement created in his image, according to a new national NBC News poll. The Make America Great Again, or ‘MAGA,’ movement, which takes its name from Trump’s first campaign slogan, was the least popular individual or group tested in the new survey. Just 24% of Americans have positive views of the movement, while 45% voice negative views.

In contrast, the same poll asked respondents for their views about the Black Lives Matter movement, which fared far better: 38% had positive views, while 40% had negative views.

In other words, “MAGA” isn’t just unpopular with the American mainstream, it’s noticeably less popular than BLM, both major political parties, the current president, and his immediate predecessor.

The popularity of “MAGA” among Republicans isn’t exactly overwhelming: 52% of self-described GOP voters view the so-called movement positively, which is hardly a powerful endorsement.

Among independents, the news was vastly worse for the Trump-inspired faction: “MAGA” has a 12% favorability rating among independent voters.

In his 2024 campaign kickoff yesterday, President Joe Biden told voters that “MAGA extremists” are lining up to take “bedrock freedoms away.” It’s easy to understand why the Democrat included the line in his message: “MAGA” just isn’t popular.

All of this is notable for electoral reasons: The more Republicans rally behind “MAGA” candidates in competitive races, the more likely they are to lose.

But there’s another angle to keep in mind in the coming months. There’s a school of thought in Republican politics that suggests Donald Trump — his scandals, his buffoonery, his corruption, his bombast — has worn out its welcome, but the former president’s underlying ideas and vision can still resonate with voters. Trump might be toxic, the theory goes, but Trumpism can still work.

Survey data such as the results of the NBC News poll suggest this is just wrong: The former president is unpopular, but the so-called movement he helped lead and inspire enjoys even less public support.