• 66°

Why Trump is riding high

Chicago Tribune

If someone were looking for a clinic on how a political candidacy can self-destruct, it would be hard to do better than Donald Trump’s campaign, which has consisted of one gaffe after another.

He referred to Mexican migrants as “rapists,” implied Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked him tough questions because she was menstruating, claimed that thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheered on 9/11, disparaged Carly Fiorina’s face and called for a temporary ban on the entry of foreign Muslims to the United States. Politics is about appealing to voters, and Trump’s chief talent is offending them.

Trump, unlike conventional politicians, has found that the best way to appeal to some people is by offending others — and the more grossly, the better. There lies the secret of his success so far. Trump does best with voters who are disgusted by the state of the country, contemptuous of the people governing them, hostile to the news media and happy to raise a middle finger to the traditional political process.

They like him because he is so different from the campaign norm. He says things he isn’t supposed to say, heaps ridicule on those who criticize him and vows to do all the things previous leaders have proved unable to do — whether it’s defeat the Islamic State or stop unauthorized immigration.

Trump sounds confident and makes such tasks sound easy. For voters impatient with complexity and incremental change, that makes him irresistible.

His admirers are also strikingly indifferent to anything critics say. Republican pollster Frank Luntz recently convened 29 current or former Trump supporters for a focus group and spent three hours exposing them to negative information about him. “Normally, if I did this for a campaign, I’d have destroyed the campaign by this point,” he told The Washington Post. But in this case, the effect was to make them like Trump even more.

Some of the fondness for Trump stems from attitudes that range from unsavory to vicious. He offers a refuge for voters who are bigoted toward minorities, intolerant of beliefs they don’t share and eager to believe the worst about Barack Obama — whom many of them simply hate.

Fellow GOP presidential contender Lindsey Graham offered an explanation for Trump’s popularity: “There’s about 40 percent of the Republican primary voter who believes that Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim.” Trump is happy to indulge those voters.

Over the past decade, Americans have gone through a brutal recession, an underwhelming recovery, two costly and inconclusive wars, and the rise of an ominous new terrorist threat abroad. Many Americans feel they’ve been punished or left behind, and not without reason.

Trump’s existing support isn’t likely to dry up any time soon. Republicans who talk about brokering the convention to deny him the nomination, or somehow drumming him out of the party, simply feed the suspicion of his followers that the elites are out to get him, and them.

Comments

Crime

Rockwell teen charged with rape of a 14-year-old girl

Crime

Police: Charlotte man caught stealing funeral home employee’s truck

Local

Rowan Social Services director takes new job in New Hanover County; Heidrick to retire

Ask Us

Ask us: Will masks be required in Rowan County polling locations?

Elections

Political Notebook: Tillis, Cunningham differ on when to fill SCOTUS vacancy

Local

Local state trooper, firefighter returns home after Army deployment

Local

Blast from the past: Concordia Lutheran Church opens time capsule from previous century

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with damaging video camera, tresspassing

Crime

North Carolina man faces over 300 sex-related charges

News

Coastal flooding along Outer Banks closes roads

Nation/World

GOP hopeful Supreme Court battle will help shift election

Education

‘Better chance of succeeding’: Moody, colleagues reflect on tenure, retirement

News

Collecting garbage: Locals work to beautify High Rock Lake during Clean Sweep

Coronavirus

Salisbury man grateful parents’ story has impacted many

News

Celtics take big lead and hold on to top Heat 117-106

Business

Downtown Salisbury ‘moving swiftly’ with developers interested in Empire Hotel

Business

From fantasy to fact, Cherry builds a Hobbit House at his Treesort

Business

Biz Roundup: CSP seeking to hire 100 new employees for plant expansion

Coronavirus

Police, sheriff focus on education in addressing mask-wearing complaints

Education

Candidates for East Area school board seat have widely different views on renewal

Kannapolis

Cannon Mills’ whistle sounds again, brings nostalgia with it

Coronavirus

UPDATED: Outbreak at jail annex over; new cases emerge at Kannapolis facility

Elections

In Senate race, Tillis calibrates ties to Trump

News

5 Charlotte officers recommended for dismissal after death in custody