This Diagram Of Donald Trump's Supporters Divides The True Believers From The Opportunists

Here: Let’s do a little diagramming. Take a piece of paper and write along the top “Traditionally Republican Supporters.” Now, draw a large circle in the center of the page, then a medium sized circle inside the first one. Finally, put a large orange dot at the very center of the page, and label it “TRUMP.” Label the outer circle “Trump Supporters” and the inner circle “Trump Believers.” Now, we have to ask ourselves: Where does Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s circle of believers end?

There are a few people we can throw into the inner-most circle right away: Rudy Giuliani, who has been Trump mouthpiece extraordinaire throughout the election can definitely go in the inner circle, as can die-hard Trump pundits like Scottie Nell Hughes, Kayleigh McEnany, Cory Lewandowski, and Jeffrey Lord. These people seem to really believe the bile pouring from the GOP candidate’s mouth.

We can also fill out much of the outer-most part of the diagram, those traditionally Republican voters who are not supporting Trump — just take a look at any of the several websites that are monitoring Republican Trump defections, especially in the wake of the release of the Trump Tapes. Notable names out here include Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire., Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, not to mention what seems like most of both presidential Bush families.

The people we can easily sort into the outer-most and inner-most sections of this chart aren’t the ones that really interest me though: What I’m curious about is where that middle line lies, the one that divides the Trump supporters from the Trump believers. What kind of mental and intellectual jiu-jitsu is going on to get these people through the day?

Some of the contortions of these Republicans have been more or less on display for all to see. I would have never thought it possible for me to feel pity for House Speaker Paul Ryan, but watching his begrudging support throughout this election cycle went pretty quickly from amusing to uncomfortable. While he has clearly made a tactical decision that his job as speaker will be easier with a Trump White House than a Clinton White House, Ryan would be as far away from Trump as possible while still technically supporting him.

Others are more mysterious: Trump’s own running mate, Mike Pence, is perhaps the most curious, seeming to wiggle his way back and forth over the line of Trump Believer depending on what’s happening that week. It’s tricky to analyze: The most cynical interpretation of Pence is complete opportunism, and at the moment, the most viable path to a someday President Pence is through a President Trump. That certainly would help explain how on Oct. 8 he could neither "condone" nor "defend" Trump’s caught-on-tape comments about women, but on Oct. 10 he seemed to both condone and defend the remarks as “locker room talk.”

Chris Christie, a one-time fierce supporter of Trump’s, also seems to be trying to occupy both sides of the field, equivocating on Trump amid the latest failings of his campaign and even distancing himself from the candidate.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Maybe what we really need is another circle in this diagram, one that circumscribes those who claim to believe in Trump’s meshugas, but are really just pursuing their own political self interest. Because when the dust settles on this election — presuming the polls will out, and Hillary Clinton becomes president — it will be important to identify the true believers, but just as important to single out those who were willing to get into bed with them.

Image: Charlie Beckerman (1)