New York Magazine
June 27, 2018 | Gabriel Debenedetti

The warning has been inescapable to the point of being exhausting over the first 18 months of the Donald Trump era. Democrats have been told that they simply must come up with a positive message that’s not just anti-White House; if they fail to do so, the midterms — and then 2020 — will surely bring years of unrelenting doom to the left. The party’s taken the basic message to heart: It’s now hard to find a candidate out there campaigning on anything other than bread-and-butter issues like health care, immigration, and economic opportunity. Some avoid mentioning Trump altogether.

Enter a group of leading Democratic operatives, who on Wednesday are set to offer a new framework for understanding how Americans view and discuss the president — who, after all, is the whole reason the midterms are shaping up to be so competitive to begin with. Figuring that we’re stuck in an image-first media environment driven by a similarly flash-focused president, Navigator Research, a coalition of top party pollsters and strategists from across the left, tested a set of images rather than words or phrases to gauge how Americans view the commander-in-chief.

Their primary finding, according to a copy of the report viewed early by New York: More than anything else, Americans view Trump as a narcissist in it for himself over the country, and they believe his attitude is sowing chaos and tearing the country apart. It’s far from a silver bullet anti-Trump message, but understanding that this underpinning sentiment is the most popular one among voters could prove an important first step toward building a coherent anti-Trump line for the party.

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