Friday, January 1, 2016

Understanding Trump    Laura Hollis | Dec 31, 201

As 2015 comes to a close, the biggest story of the year is unquestionably the meteoric rise and mystifying (to some) staying power of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Despite numerous opinion pieces and analyses devoted to the phenomenon, it appears that neither the permanent political class nor the media elite that prop them up have figured out what is driving his popularity.
It's easy to understand Donald Trump's popularity if you understand the American public. But our politicians and pundits do not understand us. It's hard to know whether observers are being deliberately obscurantist or they legitimately do not see what's happening. Either way, it's time to shoot down some of the oft-repeated tropes about Trump.
1. It isn't just middle-class whites. David Frum has an excellent article in the newest issue of The Atlantic. It's titled "The Great Republican Revolt." His insightful piece comes closer than any I have read in explaining Trump's success, and yet even Frum falls short of the mark. He, like so many others, misreads the American mood.
Frum characterizes the Trump wave as being driven largely by disgruntled, middle-class (and middle-aged) whites. While Trump enjoys strong support in that demographic, his popularity extends to others as well. Recent polls have shown Trump with a favorability rating approaching 45 percent among American Hispanics -- a group that "conventional wisdom" suggests would be overwhelmingly opposed to him, based upon his hardline approach to immigration. African-Americans also support Trump in large numbers (some polls suggest 40 percent). Sisters (and "Trumpkins") Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson (of "Diamond and Silk" fame) have become a public face of the black support for Trump's campaign, garnering hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views for their YouTube videos.
These statistics poke huge holes in the theory that Trump's success is driven by white racism.
But why wouldn't there be cross-demographic support for a man who promises to bring jobs back to America when 94 million Americans are out of the work force? Even assuming that this includes large numbers of retiring baby boomers, that is a lot of people who have given up looking for work. Which brings me to my next point.

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