Donald Trump has long been insisting that moderate and conservative Democrats will flock to the polls to support him in November. There’s not much evidence of this, but if Trump does have the capacity to attract Democrats, that would probably be reflected at least somewhat in his endorsements. So, have any Democrats endorsed Donald Trump? Not technically, especially given that the “Reagan Democrats” of whom Trump speaks so fondly do not actually exist anymore.
Assuming we’re talking about current or former elected officials, the answer is...not really. There is exactly one Democrat who's indicated that he might possibly support Trump. He didn’t, however, actually endorse the Donald. And aside from this one person, no Democratic officials have jumped on the Trump Train.
And who is the lone Democrat for Trump? Why, it’s none other than our friend Jim Webb, the former Virginia Senator and onetime 2016 candidate himself. After unceremoniously ending his own presidential bid last year, Webb told MSNBC that he “wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton” if she wins the nomination. He also said that he’s “not sure yet” whether he’d vote for Trump.
“If you're voting for Donald Trump, you may get something very good or very bad,” Webb told MSNBC. “If you're voting for Hillary Clinton, you're going to be getting the same thing.”
So, there we have it. If you squint really hard when looking at that statement, it kind of almost looks like Webb is endorsing Trump. But he didn’t actually utter the words “endorse,” “support,” or even “I’m going to vote for Trump.” He simply left the option open.
But Webb's openness to voting for Trump isn't indicative of a larger trend, because Webb is part of a dying breed: the conservative Democrat. There was a time when white, conservative Democrats from the South were an absolutely vital leg of the Democratic Party's base. This was certainly true in the 1960s, when Democrats were an anti-civil rights party, but also as late as in 2006, when the party won control of the House of Representatives by successfully running conservative Democrats in swing districts.
But the two parties have become increasingly polarized over the last several decades. Conservative Democrats are an endangered species in American politics, and so are their counterparts, liberal Republicans.
This is one reason (though not the only one) why Webb never really had a chance at winning the Democratic nomination: He’s just too conservative for the party. On issue after issue — guns, race, affirmative action, foreign relations — Webb falls far to the right of the standard Democratic position. He’s so conservative, in fact, that he has a small following among Republicans, with one conservative writer calling him “an American hero” and others suggesting that he’d be a good vice presidential pick for Trump.
But still, even with all of this being true, Webb still couldn’t bring himself to actually endorse Trump. If Trump can’t win over a Democrat like Webb — who once boasted about killing an enemy soldier in Vietnam — it seems unlikely that Democratic base voters, even the most conservative ones, will pull the lever for The Donald in November.
Image: Pew Research Center