August 26, 2015

ANGER IS THIN GRUEL:

Trump may be 'impossible to take down,' top Republican pollster says (Claude Brodesser-Akner, 8/25/15,  NJ.com)

On Monday night, the group of mostly college-educated Trump supporters -- 17 women, 12 men -- was largely Republican, but also featured some Democrats and independents. What united them was a willingness to trust Trump whether or not they fully agreed with his policies, or in some cases, regardless of whether he even had articulated any. Twenty-three of the 29 participants said that they were more persuaded by his persona, while just six said it was Trump's policies that sold them on him.

"I want to vote for a person," emphasized one participant, a middle-aged man identified as 'David.' "I believe in his ability to make decisions. I trust him to make decisions more than I trust Obama or George W. (Bush)."

The group was similarly unfazed by Trump's reversals of opinion or lack of ideological purity that so often defines primary election contests. 

Luntz said this shows "nothing disqualifies Trump" in the eyes of his supporters: "If you wanted to take him down, I would not know how to do it."

For example, the single biggest reason Trump supporters gave for backing him was his branding of Obamacare as a catastrophe that the GOP must repeal and replace with "something much better." But moments later in the same session, participants in the Trump focus group noted that the thing that made them least likely to vote for Trump was his prior support for a "single payer" or entirely government-funded healthcare system.

The same is true of Trump's flip-flopping over who is best qualified to manage the U.S. economy. Eighteen of the 29 pointed to Trump's promise to restore balance to the nation's trade deficit with Japan and China as a reason they would be most likely to vote for him. However, moments later nearly half of the 29 said that what made them least likely to vote for Trump were his past statements that the U.S. economy does better under Democratic rather than Republican leadership.

By a large measure, the Trump supporters in Luntz's focus group were very pessimistic about the future of the U.S.: Twenty-one of 29 said that they believed the nation's best days were in the past.  Nineteen of the 29 said they believed their kids would have a lower quality of life than they enjoyed unless an outsider intervened.

"They're 'mad as hell and not going to take it anymore,'" Luntz said.  "And (Trump) personifies it: Each sees in him what they want for the country. They want him to fix what makes them mad, and they believe he will."

It is Trump's ability to reflect back to voters their most fervent wishes for the nation, Luntz said, that makes the political outsider so dangerous to the rest of the 16 other GOP 2016 hopefuls. The main reason for this, Luntz found, was what he termed a willingness of Trump supporters to live in "an alternative universe" in which any attempt by the media to point out inconsistencies in Trump's record or position was seen as a politically motivated conspiracy.

"When the media challenges the veracity of his statements, you take his side," Luntz asked of his focus group.  Only one person sat quietly, her hands in her lap, as 28 other arms shot up in agreement.

America doesn't elect angry men.
Posted by at August 26, 2015 3:03 PM
  

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