The Village Elliot says Mr. Trump's popularity is not so hard to understand.
Why is Donald Trump so popular? Some of my friends on the left are astonished, and others are horrified by the success of Donald Trump. All along I've said that Donald Trump has a realistic chance to win the White House, and that appears to be the case.
I'm not saying that Donald Trump is a great candidate or my favorite candidate even among Republicans. For the record, I am a registered Democrat and will vote for Bernie Sanders in the Ohio primary. I am not an expert on measuring political sentiment, but I think I do understand the sentiment for Trump and I admit that in some ways I sympathize with it.
I believe that the center of American Politics has become corrupt in some important ways, and many Americans would like an outsider to come in and fix it. The Republican center in particular has become the party of Obamaphobia, too terrified of President Obama to participate in politics, and now totally devoted to simply opposing Obama on everything. This does not sit well with many Republicans any more than it does with Democrats.
The last time a Republican President was elected, he created a depression and two wars, went from a slight surplus to an enormous deficit and increased both non-defenses and defense spending across the board. True, many Republicans celebrate that style of government, but not all do. Many Republicans genuinely believe the government should limit its role in the economy and that moreover there need to be limits on taxation. Centrist candidates like Jeb Bush (the Republican centerfold at the beginning of the election) do not have much appeal for true economic conservatives.
The party bosses support perpetual war in the Middle East (hopefully at an even higher level than the Democrats), are okay with 400 billion dollar deficits and are willing to muddle through the immigration situation without resolving anything. Not all Republicans are happy with this. Many Republics do in fact want to see an end to war sometime, and they want to see some real spending cuts because they think that the current situation is unsustainable. They are also afraid of tax hikes, because the Democrats can mobilize millions of have-nots to vote to take away all the hard-earned money that the middle and upper class have saved for themselves.
Trump has loudly stated the obvious, that going into Iraq was a mistake, not a stroke of genius as Jeb and others would have us believe. If you want to have policy shifts, increased levels of deportations, spending cuts, you're going to have to have a tough guy who is willing to accept criticism.
All these reasons add up to a great desire to support a political outsider this year. The same logic applies to someone like Bernie Sanders for the Democrats. The center of the Democratic Party likewise may be on unstable footing and people are not happy with it. Is Sanders the answer? I don't know but he's the only alternative out there.
Moreover, the rules for winning have changed in the Internet age. To cite one example, it used to be that televised debates were not allowed to show the reaction of the audience. Now the media rules favor candidates that can draw cheers and applause with snappy sound bites, and even slinging insults and interruptions. Trump has realized this and he is playing the game the way that it needs to be played in order to win. So, to some extent if we don't like Trump's sound bites, a lot of it has to do with the way that the Media has set things up. This is the what the rules favor. At the beginning of primary season, I thought that his experience in his chaotic reality TV “boardroom” would serve him well.
In view of the media preference for shouting, interruption and sound bites, I think it would be very very difficult for Hilary Clinton to beat Donald Trump one on one. Hillary will say smart things, Trump will say a few dumb things, and a lot of outrageous things, and that will probably work well for him.