Donald Trump, the improbable presidential candidate whose unhinged ramblings have gotten closer and closer to outright fascism and who last week said Muslims should be banned from entering the US, is still winning GOP hearts and minds. According to a poll released on Monday by Monmouth University, 41 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters support Trump, while the second-place candidate, Ted Cruz, only garnered a meagre 14 percent. Only one other candidate, Marco Rubio, even polled in the double digits with a mere 10 percent of voter support.
Notably, pollsters surveyed voters after Trump’s call for a Muslim immigration ban, a move that was supported by white supremacists and condemned by nearly every public figure as being a racist appeal to the basest impulses of the American psyche. This follows a pattern of Trump saying things that disgust not just Democrats or leftists but the Republican Establishment and being rewarded by a bump in the polls. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that many of the former reality TV star’s supporters actually like it when he is a vicious, small-minded bully. Last week the Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel sat in on a focus group run by Republican media consultant Frank Luntz and saw this effect in action:
“Over three hours Wednesday in Alexandria, Luntz lobbed dozens of Trump-seeking missiles. All 29 in the group had voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. All either supported Trump or had supported him earlier in the year. To Luntz’s amazement, hearing negative information about the candidate made the voters, only a few of whom gave their full names to the press, hug the candidate tighter.”
In other words, Trump has become the political version of a pro wrestling heel, feeding off of the hate that rains down on him daily. The reasons many despise him are the exact same reasons that others can’t get enough.
“It has become abundantly clear that Trump is giving his supporters exactly what they want, even if what he says causes the GOP leadership and many Republican voters to cringe,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a press release that accompanied the poll results.
On the eve of the next GOP debate, other Republican politicians are in a bind: denounce Trump, a la longshot presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, and risk alienating his supporters, stay silent on his bigoted positions, or awkwardly split the difference like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has called out the frontrunner’s policies while pledging to support him if Trump won the nomination. Whatever they do, they are caught reacting to a guy most thought was a joke when he entered the race. It’s Trump’s world, and we, unfortunately, are living in it.
From the column ‘The VICE Guide to Right Now’
Courtesy of Vice.com – Vice Staff.