I have eluded to this in other posts, but I believe that Donald Trump could win the presidential election in November 2016. Here’s a brief summary of the points I’ve previously made:
1. Trump’s supporters stick by him no matter what he does or says;
2. His supporters seem especially determined to give him their loyalty if the media and/or other politicians attack him for his statements;
3. His supporters do not appear to trust those who criticize or disagree with Mr. Trump, even if clear evidence is presented that Mr. Trump’s statements are untrue (for example, the claim that he witnessed thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers on television broadcasts);
4. I believe this loyalty to the ultimate outsider, Mr. Trump, is the result of the Republican National Committee, republican Congressional leaders, and conservative media emphasizing (or exaggerating) the negative and blaming President Obama for any problem during the the past seven years in an attempt to sway the voting public away from democrats;
5. I feel the strategy outlined in item #4 worked so well that much of the country no longer trusts anyone remotely associated with the political establishment.
In addition to those points, I’ve got a few new ones.
6. Distrust of the media is growing.
The Washington Post has decided to cancel it’s column, “What was Fake on the Internet This Week?” It ran for 82 weeks and was written by Caitlin Dewey. One of the reasons for it’s cancellation was that some people stopped believing the well-documented reasons provided for why a story was fake. For example, a Facebook user showed a photo of a protest at an Islamic education enter in Dearborn, MI, and claimed that the protest was in support of ISIS. Ms. Dewey provided evidence in her column that the center was holding a peace rally and has done so for years, but the pro-ISIS photo continued to spread on Facebook. The media is now considered to be untrustworthy.
7. Fears of terrorism have skyrocketed since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, about 30% of Americans believed that they personally would fall victim to a terrorist attack in the next 12 months. That is an incredibly high percentage and I was not one of them. One advantage to living in Manhattan in the late 1980’s is that I could see and hear about crime, but know that the chances I would be a victim were incredibly small. I actually had funny conversations with my mother who lived in a small town a couple hours north of New York City in which she would express concern because she heard about a murder in Manhattan and I would tongue-in-cheek ask whether the house was still standing because her local news always started off with a house fire.
The Paris attacks, while horrific, killed 0.006% of the population, which oddly enough, is about the same percentage of the population killed in San Bernardino. When you add in the injured and friends and families of the victims, it would still be a very small percentage of people affected. I haven’t been able to find a recent poll to show the percent of Americans who feel they will fall victim to a terrorist attack in the next 12 months, but it’s likely to be much higher than 0.006%. This fear helps Donald Trump’s campaign because he makes statements which reassure people that he has the solution to terrorism. Since Mr. Trump’s supporters seem to reject fact-checking, his word is all they need to believe he will solve the problem.
8. Mr. Trump may benefit from a version of the Bradley Effect.
The Bradley Effect refers to an election result when a African-American candidate receives substantially fewer votes than are indicated by the pre-vote polls. It is named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley who lost the 1982 California governor’s race despite having a lead in the polls. The Bradley Effect describes the situation in which some white voters, not wishing to appear racist to the pollsters, report that they intend to vote for the black candidate, but instead vote for the white candidate. I suggest that there may be many Americans who intent to vote for Mr. Trump, but keep it to themselves because they may feel their support could be viewed by their friends, family, coworkers or pollsters as intolerant. We’re only a few weeks away from the Iowa Caucasus and the New Hampshire primary. If Mr. Trump receives significantly more votes than one would expect from the pre-vote polls, that could be the “Trump Effect.”
So, it could be a very interesting primary season and general election. Time will tell