Neo-Nazis are a constituency of President Donald Trump. So are white nationalists. And the so-called alt-right you keep hearing about? They’re a constituency as well.

All politicians have constituencies who can be counted on to organize volunteers, raise or make donations, and mobilize voters come Election Day. Elected officials are constantly reaching out to those groups: labor, evangelicals, community organizations and business owners, to name a few.

Good politicians know that this relationship is ongoing. Their political operations are constantly talking to these groups, both directly and indirectly, knowing it’s important to keep them engaged and, more important, not to alienate them.

President Trump didn’t want to condemn hate groups, even after a white supremacist drove his car into a group of protesters, killing one person and injuring many more, because they’re a constituency. He needs them, more than ever, as his approval ratings sink lower with each new poll.

Refusing to condemn hate groups for the first 48 hours after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last weekend, and choosing to call for an end to “violence on many sides,” were Trump’s way of signaling to his base.

Trump’s constituents took his words as they were meant to be heard. Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer website, was pleased, writing, “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

Anglin’s feelings were echoed online in communities where the so-called alt-right are known to congregate. Commenters on the website Reddit’s message board “/r/The — Donald” were largely satisfied that Trump didn’t call out hate groups explicitly.

President Trump eventually did condemn hate groups, after being called on to do so by Republicans and Democrats. He followed this by signaling to his constituency group that he was still with them. First, he told a reporter that he was strongly considering pardoning Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a far-right hero convicted of contempt of court. Then he retweeted alt-right media celebrity Jack Posobiec — known for pushing debunked #pizzagate and Seth Rich conspiracy theories.

Finally, at a press event meant to be about infrastructure, Trump came wholly to the Charlottesville ralliers’ defense, saying, “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

I’ve followed Trump’s supporters online for the past year, eavesdropped on their digital conversations, and observed how they’re organized. For the most part, they aren’t engaged in any policy or political issue unless that issue involves race baiting. Trump’s election brought them out of the shadows and they have no intention of returning there anytime soon.

What happened in Charlottesville might have shocked most Americans but it emboldened white nationalists and their allies. The hate groups are taking an online victory lap. They’re planning their next rallies and actions. They’ll continue to have President Trump’s back because he’s shown them time and time again that he has theirs.

Trump’s constituents took his words as they were meant to be heard. Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer website, was pleased, writing, “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”

Ryan, of Washington, D.C., has worked for union and Democratic campaigns in Wisconsin: melissaryan.net. She writes the Ctrl Alt Right Delete online newsletter: ctrlaltrightdelete.com. The Progressive Media Project in Madison and Tribune Content Agency distributed this column.