Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s economic-nationalist, non-interventionist, and pro-assimilation agenda is on the ascent, and what FiveThirtyEight dubbed the “Bannon Wing” represents a “major part of the modern Republican Party.”
Further, “Bannon-ism,” according to the report, is in “nearly every Republican voter.” And it may offer Republicans the best chance to expand its coalition in a general election by attracting blue-collar Democrats and politically unaffiliated or unengaged voters of all backgrounds like Donald Trump did in 2016.
FiveThirtyEight defined the “Bannon wing” of the GOP as a more “populist, nationalist,” and non-interventionist wing of the GOP. The study pointed out that, more specifically, the “Bannon wing” consists of “Trump voters who are pro-police, against free trade, against the U.S. playing an active role (militarily and diplomatically) in the international community, strongly against illegal immigration, and in favor of more infrastructure spending.” FiveThirtyEight used five questions from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study to more specifically define the Bannon wing:
1. They are for or against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Which we’ll use as a proxy for free trade.)
2. The U.S. should send troops to help the United Nations uphold international law.2 (Involvement in the international community.)
3. The U.S. government should identify and deport immigrants in the country illegally. (Illegal immigration.)
4. Their local police should receive a grade of A (excellent), B (above average), C (average), D (below average) or F (poor).
5. Their state government should increase spending on infrastructure. (Infrastructure spending.)
FiveThirtyEight noted that “perhaps the most telling sign that Bannon’s positions represent a major part of the modern Republican Party is the percentage of Trump voters who disagree with all of the five key Bannon-esque policy stances listed above. It’s less than 2 percent.”
“Whether the Republican mainstream likes it or not, a little bit of Bannonism is in pretty much every Republican voter,” the numbers-crunching outlet concluded. “Don’t expect Trump to suddenly become a different person. Bannonism is a part of Trump’s coalition, even if Bannon is no longer part of the Trump administration. And Trump needs it to remain that way.”
The study found that Republicans agreed with many core aspects of “Bannon-ism” and approximately 15% of all Trump voters agreed with all five of the tenets as defined by FiveThirtyEight, based on questions from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. But “to put this 15 percent in some additional perspective, the percentage of Hillary Clinton voters who were Hispanic in the general election, an important part of her coalition, was about 12 percent,” FiveThirtyEight noted. When FiveThirtyEight broke down “Bannonism” further, it found that nearly half of Trump’s voters wanted a more non-interventionist and realist foreign policy that put America’s national interest above all else while 40-45 percent of Trump voters were nationalist-populist.
- Non-interventionist Bannon-ites (Nearly 50% of Trump voters) — “Trump voters who want the U.S. to have a more distant relationship with international partners. These are people who are against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and against sending troops overseas to uphold international law.” The report found that nearly half of Trump voters fall into this category, which should not be surprising “given that even Clinton was forced to come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership” and Trump emphasized his opposition to the Iraq War during the campaign.
- Nationalist Bannon-ites (About 45% of Trump voters) — “Trump voters who support deporting immigrants who are here illegally. These voters are pro-police and strongly against illegal immigration.” These voters also, as Breitbart News has pointed out, value assimilation and Americanism and vote for E Pluribus Unum as opposed to Ex Uno Plures. This group, according to the report, make up about 45 percent of Trump voters, but also appeal to a broader segment of the electorate since the pro-assimilation and America-first issues the nationalist Bannon-ites cared about “clearly went beyond voters with hardline positions on policing and immigration.”
- Populist Bannon-ites (About 40% of Trump voters) —”Trump voters who are more economically populist in a party that often isn’t. These voters are against the Trans-Pacific partnership and are for more infrastructure spending.” The report notes that “this may be the area where Bannon and Trump were most at odds with Republican Party leaders,” but the issues that appeal to “populist Bannon-ites” are more likely to win over blue-collar Reagan Democrats and enable Republicans to win states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin like Trump unlike the Republicans who have pursued the 3.8 of voters who are “socially liberal” and favor economically rigid policies that benefit Wall Street and corporatists.
The outlet found that Bannon “represented a clear ideological wing within the Trump White House and in the GOP electorate more broadly.” Bannon-ism allowed Trump to appeal to various groups in the GOP primary and attract non-Republicans in the general election. In addition, Trump will need the support from the “Bannon wing” to fend off potential primary challengers in 2020, according to the report. Yet, GOP establishment consultants, “Never Trumpers,” and the media want to push GOP candidates to become more socially liberal and economically rigid to appeal to the narrow 3.8% of their fellow elites–a surefire recipe for general election losses.
In an interview with the Economist, Bannon fought for his worldview and called out China (“Let’s go screw up One Belt One Road”) and “the elites in Silicon Valley and Wall Street—they’re a bunch of globalists who have forgotten their fellow Americans.”
“I want the world to look back in 100 years and say, their mercantilist, Confucian system lost,” he said. “The Judeo-Christian liberal West won.”
Bannon recalled when Republican leaders and even some of Trump’s top advisers were distancing themselves from Trump during the 2016 campaign, Bannon’s message to Trump was simple: “We are going for a nationalist message, we are going to go barbarian, and we will win.”