The angrier and more fearful partisans are, the more of a market there is for media that makes them yet angrier and yet more fearful. It is no accident that the CEO of Breitbart News, a hyper-ideological conservative media outlet that specializes in scaring the hell out of its audience, is leading Trump’s campaign. One reason Trump has been able to consolidate Republican support is that Republican-leaning media has convinced itself, and its base, that the alternative to Trump is a criminal who belongs in jail. This offers a rationale for voting Republican even if you don’t particularly like your candidate: a majority of Trump voters say they are voting against Clinton rather than for Trump.
This raises the possibility that Trump’s support from Republicans is merely an artifact of Clinton’s unpopularity. I’m skeptical. Before they had convinced themselves Clinton is a criminal, many Republicans — led by Trump — convinced themselves Obama was born in Kenya and constitutionally ineligible to serve as president. And while those attacks were driving Obama’s popularity down, Clinton’s numbers were so high that it became fashionable to speculate over whether Obama needed to replace Joe Biden with Clinton to win reelection.
Clinton’s weaknesses are real, but her unpopularity among Republicans is structural — her four percent approval rating among Republicans isn’t so far off from the six percent Obama registered at the end of the 2012 election.
Ezra Klein, “Donald Trump’s success reveals a frightening weakness in American democracy”, Vox (7 November 2016) [http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/7/13532178/donald-trump-american-democracy-weakness]