Most national polls have real estate developer Donald Trump either leading or in second place for the Republican nomination for president for 2016, Business Insider reports today. Trump announced his candidacy on June 16, and made his controversial comments on immigration. He has risen in the polls since making those comments, and to the apparent surprise of many political pundits, he only continues to rise in the polls as he doubles down on those comments about immigration. Trump’s comments about immigrants from Mexico have been so controversial, he’s even allegedly been threatened by a Mexican drug cartel leader.
The Monmouth University Poll reported Monday of this week has Trump leading, with 15 percent to Bush’s 12 percent. A Reuters-Ipsos poll released last weekend has the race nearly tied, with Jeb Bush at 16.1 percent and Trump at 15.8 percent. The latest USA Today/Suffolk poll released yesterday has Trump leading over Bush, 17 to 14 percent. The Weekly Standard reported on Trump leading in the USA Today/Suffolk poll, and noted that he still trailed Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical general election match-up by a 51 to 34 percent margin.
Those among the political pundits who expected, and have expected, Donald Trump to decline or crash in the polls because of controversial immigration comments fail to understand why and how those comments are resonating with a significant portion of the voting public. Donald Trump is a very non-conventional politician at a time when voters are increasingly fed up with what they hear and see from conventional politicians.
In many ways, what we are seeing nationally now is much like the political atmosphere seen in Massachusetts in 1990 at the end of the era of Michael Dukakis, the losing 1988 Democratic nominee for president, in that state. At that time a very controversial non-conventional politician ran for governor, former Boston University President John Silber. He ran as a populist and somewhat conservative Democrat who, like Donald Trump, had a penchant for making controversial comments on the top issues of the time. The media called those comments “Silber shockers” each time he said them, and the pundits expected his campaign to decline in the polls every time he said one. Silber ran against the sitting lieutenant governor and sitting attorney general of the state, both of whom were fairly popular and were Democrats. He railed against them as corrupt politicians and said the state needed a non-politician as governor. He shocked the establishment, and the media, and defeated the sitting attorney general by more than 10 percent, after the sitting lieutenant governor withdrew from the race a week before primary.
Donald Trump is a lot like Silber in the ways he addresses issues. The media and elites find his comments controversial, and a large sector of the voting public hears what he says and reacts by strong agreeing, and not just agreeing, but thinking that Trump is right on what he says and appreciating it because they perceive no one else is saying anything close to it.
It’s not just the established mainstream media that doesn’t get it about Trump. Even the conservative-leaning newspaper the Washington Times yesterday referred to Trump as “Brash and belligerent” in reporting the leads in the Republican polls.
“Since entering the presidential race, Donald Trump has been Godzilla in a china shop, attacking Republicans and Democrats alike, stirring the national debate and, according to a poll released Tuesday, soaring to the head of a crowded Republican field of candidates,” the Washington Times reported on Trump yesterday.
Trump has doubled down on his immigration comments and stepped his criticism of those taking exception to his statements on the issue. It is only further fueling his rise in the polls, as many voters hear from Trump what they wish to hear, and do not, from all the other presidential candidates.
“I have also continually stated that I am not beholden to anyone, and this includes NBC and Macy’s,” Trump said. “Clearly, NBC and Macy’s support illegal immigration, which is totally detrimental to the fabric of our once great country.”
Most of the other Republican candidates, who also clearly do not understand why Donald Trump is surging in the polls, have run to the nearest microphones as quickly as they can to condemn Trump’s immigration comments as if their own survival in the GOP race for president depends on them doing it. Yet Trump has surged in the polls, at the expense of Jeb Bush and most of those other candidates, and they don’t understand why. Their failure to understand Trump’s appeal to the voters, and choose to attack him based on those issues and where he stands on them, might well be the reason why they continue to lose ground in the polls to Trump. And if they continue this course, they might well be creating a dynamic in the Republican presidential contest that could help Trump become the GOP nominee for president.
[Photo of Donald Trump from Getty Images.]