Donald Trump

Trump on His Triumph: 'I Don't Understand It. Nobody Understands It.'

Although the billionaire braggart's nomination looks increasingly likely, he is more disliked than any other presidential candidate.

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Two months ago, Donald Trump, citing his resilient poll numbers, bragged that "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters." Consistent with the impression that what started as a lark became an actual presidential campaign thanks to voter preferences that no one, not even Trump, foresaw, he seemed amazed at his own success. "It's, like, incredible," he remarked. Last night, after winning the Republican primaries in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and possibly Missouri, Trump sounded even more baffled, noting that a wave of attack ads in Florida did not affect his standing there. "You explain it to me, because I can't," he said to supporters at a "press conference" where he took no questions. "My numbers went up. I don't understand it. Nobody understands it."

I don't really understand it either, although I think the panic within the Republican Party is pretty damned funny. No matter how you look at it—as a reflection on Republican candidates, Republican ideas, or Republican voters—Trump's success is humiliating to the GOP, especially because the man is clearly no political genius. To take just one conspicuous example, his weird waffling on David Duke and the KKK—repudiating them one day, claiming to be unfamiliar with them two days later, then repudiating them again five days after that—was anything but artful, even if you think Trump was trying to wink at white supremacists.

But even as Trump's nomination looks increasingly likely, he continues to face a problem that Nick Gillespie noted last month: Most voters do not like him. The same is true of Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, but to a lesser extent. According to the latest Gallup numbers, 63 percent of American adults have an unfavorable view of Trump. The corresponding number for Clinton is 53 percent. The New York Times reports that "historians and strategists struggled to recall a time when more than half the country has held such stubbornly low opinions of the leading figures in the Democratic and Republican Parties." As the Times notes, these high negative ratings have been persistent and are apt to remain so, since Trump and Clinton both have been in the public eye for decades and are therefore quite familiar to voters. It's not as if Americans will learn to like either of them more through greater exposure. If anything, the opposite might be true. 

Contrary to Trump's claims, almost all recent polls have Clinton beating him in the general election, with margins ranging from five to 13 points. By contrast, Ted Cruz—whose latest unfavorability rating is 50 percent, substantially lower than Trump's and somewhat lower than Clinton's—beats Clinton in those same polls, albeit by narrow margins, ranging from one to three points. It's pretty striking that Trump and Clinton manage to be less popular than the notoriously abrasive Cruz, who is widely reviled by his Senate colleagues. And it would highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for the nominees of both major parties to be viewed unfavorably by most voters. Fellow Americans, welcome to my world.

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  1. Lindsey Graham endorsed Cruz. How did Reason not cover that groundbreaking development?

    1. I thought Cruz hated teh geys

      1. The gheys love his “womanish” face.

    2. I suspect it’s because he already threw his weight behind Jeb Bush, and who really cares about the fallback endorsement of someone leading with “well, he’s no Jeb Bush, but…”

  2. Trumps not well liked ,but,I have talked to people who always voted D and they are voting for him. They hate Hillary that much.Me,I’m not sure how this will shake out. The debates should be a hoot.

    1. If by hoot you mean a sad and distressing disaster, you’re correct.

      1. I’m all for watching it burn at this point.The ‘people’ are getting just what they deserve.

        1. Nihilists For Sanders 2016 : Bern It Down!

    2. It’s only distressing if you actually still have some naive notion notion that government can really be reformed or that politicians are serious people.

      1. A better GOP nominee than the last 8 cycles?

      2. This is why government should be small.

        1. This is the inevitable outcome of coercive government. The more it intrudes into people’s lives, the more worthwhile it becomes to finagle government instead of minding your own business while others finagle government to their own tastes, which by definition of it being one-size-fits-all majority rule means it will not coincide with your tastes.

    3. Switch the names and parties and this statement holds up equally well. Both retards are or will generate defectors in substantial numbers.

  3. Cruz is less disliked by the public because he is reviled by his Senate colleagues. When a political institution and many of the people who make up that institution are rotten to the core, the actions taken to get you reviled in the first place can be a big plus to the average person. Then again, less disliked isn’t exactly grounds for a mandate.

  4. I’d also point out that Cruz’s success flies in the face of Reason’s preferred narrative for why Rand Paul failed (not going full libertarian). As if Trump’s nearly policy-less campaign didn’t make that point to anyone who thought about it for a moment. The idea that if Rand had just not taken x position, all of these Republican primary voters would have flocked to him is pretty absurd.

    1. Libertarianish people like to delude themselves that many more people agree with them than actually do, myself included. It’s a fool’s errand.

      1. Try to talk to the average person about trade,or how hard it is to run a business.They have know idea how the world works.

      2. Libertarians have never had a good salesman.

      3. Libertarianish people recognize that most people agree with half of what they say, since everybody wants to be left alone in some areas of their lives. The problem is that which half people agree with is different for everybody. Welfare recipients want the money but not the strings that come with it. Crony corporations want a free market, but also massive government handouts. The middle class wants “free” education and health care but doesn’t like the taxes to pay for it. Religious conservatives want to be able to kick out people they don’t like from private property, without granting other people that right with respect to themselves.

    1. The evidence is that Trump completely ignores reality and rational thinking in favor of emotional appeal. Sure, much of what Trump says makes sense to his supporters, but I assure you that is coincidence. Trump says whatever gets him the result he wants. He understands humans as 90% irrational and acts accordingly.

      Rand Paul, on the other hand, treated voters as if they were intelligent creatures who make decisions based on the facts. His campaign didn’t last long with that message. Rand Paul knows about a lot of stuff. He’s a smart guy. But apparently psychology is not on the list of things he knows. And psychology is the only necessary skill for running for president.

      Trump knows psychology. He knows facts don’t matter. He knows people are irrational. So while his opponents are losing sleep trying to memorize the names of foreign leaders ? in case someone asks ? Trump knows that is a waste of time. No one ever voted for a president based on his or her ability to name heads of state. People vote based on emotion. Period.

      1. “The evidence is that Trump completely ignores reality and rational thinking in favor of emotional appeal.”

        So a politician, then. Honestly, I find it galling and somewhat depressing that someone would say this as though it applied to one particular candidate.

        Rand’s problem is that actual appeals to reality are pointless when that’s not what the masses want.

        1. The only difference with Trump is a very slight matter of degree. Very. Slight.

    2. Rand Paul, on the other hand, treated voters as if they were intelligent creatures who make decisions based on the facts. His campaign didn’t last long with that message. Rand Paul knows about a lot of stuff. He’s a smart guy. But apparently psychology is not on the list of things he knows. And psychology is the only necessary skill for running for president.

      1. Well, MSimon posted the quote first, but my quote is in italics.

        1. Why not be bold?

          Good job BTW.

      2. If Rand Paul came out and acted like a pitchman who just told people what they wanted to hear, most of the people here would be bitching up a storm. They already did that over the relatively mild concessions he made. Rand ultimately appeals to a different base than his father, but has the last name Paul. Rand was wrong in thinking that would be enough to get his Dad’s supporters. Libertarians like the ones here believed that Ron’s supporters had principles.

        So, we are in a position where any libertarian candidate who wants to get elected to the White House seriously is going to have to lie. He’s going to have to be a politician. For progressives and conservatives, that isn’t a huge issue.

        I loathe Nick’s take on Cruz. Cruz isn’t a libertarian. He’s not ideal, but he actually is the most libertarian candidate we may get. Ever. He’s run a campaign mostly devoid of principles – at least on the flashy subjects. He’s flipped positions. He schmoozed Trump early. This is why he has been able to go as far as he has.

        1. Brochettaward

          You get it.

        2. So, we are in a position where any libertarian candidate who wants to get elected to the White House seriously is going to have to lie.

          Well, obviously. Any candidate, period, has to do that.

    3. “And at this point they understand he’s just saying what he needs to say to get elected. Democrats will call that evil. Republicans will call it effective. ”

      Hahaha!

      Donkeys call that Obama.

      FIFY

    1. I would hope they are a little more focused and pragmatic these days

      1. Hello,Mr. Lizard,I assume your kind is amused by all of this?

    1. Trump will be wiping the floor with Hillary.

      1. Those two deserve each other.It’ll look like a couple chimps fighting,with all the screeching and shit throwing.

        1. Spectacles draw attention. And clicks.

          The folks here are the odd men out. Very few spend as much time thinking as the people involved with this blog.

          “Cat fights” are entertaining. Libertarians are not by nature or training very entertaining (generally). If only Clint Eastwood had been into national politics when he was photogenic.

          1. Reading,math and thinking is hard.Leaving people alone to live their lives as long as they hurt no one,harder.

    2. from the link:

      Regular readers of this blog know that back in August of 2015 I noticed Trump’s skill set at persuasion and predicted his rise. I used the same filter to time the fall of several of his competitors. I mention this for context.

      My prediction is that whoever faces off with Trump in the general election will get annihilated. And it will be because of Trump’s talent, not his policies.

      1. Although the billionaire braggart’s nomination looks increasingly likely, he is more disliked than any other presidential candidate.

        Hard to believe that people actually view Hillary more favorably, considering her malfeasance. I mean, Trump is a blowhard and a boor, but Hillary is an incompetent, a liar, and an actual criminal. I guess we will see what happens when Trump goes after her no-holds-barred, and if the media can protect her with enough spin to drag her across the finish line.

        1. The media doesn’t get Trump. They will be helping him. By accident. OTOH they will be helping Hillary intentionally. In this environment that will hurt her.

          1. Trump believes in one thing.He wins ,you lose.That’s how he does business and he thinks he can run the government and do trade deals in this way.He’s a crony that has sucked on the public teat all his life.He’s a zero sum guy.In some ways he’s just like Hillary.

            1. Business wins – the government loses. I could live with that. If done right.

              That is a libertarian position after all.

              1. It won’t be “business” winning. It will be some specific politically favored businesses.

                There is, unfortunately, a world of difference between the two paradigms.

  5. On the one hand we have a candidate that should be under indictment for violating national security laws. A candidate who talks about love and kindness after spending her time at the State Department getting us into two more wars (Libya and Syria).

    OTOH, we have a candidate who’s led 4 companies into bankruptcy who would lead a nation that’s heavily in debt. What could go wrong here?

    Not to mention the near fraudulent practices of Trump University. And the shady treatment of illegal immigrant workers on construction projects.

    In a just world, both of these cretins would be in prison. Instead, one of them will be running the biggest business in the world – the US Government.

    1. Isn’t that sad? You know, the part about the government being the biggest business in the world?

    2. OTOH, we have a candidate who’s led 4 companies into bankruptcy who would lead a nation that’s heavily in debt. What could go wrong here?

      The equivalent of private bankruptcy might be a lot better for the US than these endless increases in the debt ceiling.

  6. Anyone take Marketing and remember the “Empty Middle”? All I remember is that you don’t want to be there.

    Bob Dole, McCain, Romney, Rubio – they all live in the empty middle of American politics. Every position Trump takes is on one end or the other. Build a wall, halt Muslim immigration, make our military massively strong… I guess those are far right. He also once single-payer, high-tariffs, and higher-taxes on the rich – far left positions.

    In every case, Trump has avoided the boring empty middle that voters aren’t interested in this year.

    1. Also “medical marijuana, 100%”. That has 80% support.

  7. Bitter Clingers.

    All ye need to know to get Trumpism.

    1. Gun Prohibition is not near as popular a it once was.

      The Democrats should stick with it.

    2. How’s ?Jeb! doing, shreek?

  8. “You can’t stop me. I can’t even stop myself.”

  9. more than half the country has held such stubbornly low opinions of the leading figures in the Democratic and Republican Parties

    There’s your libertarian moment. Now how do you convince them all to stop voting?

  10. Well as far as Clinton is concerned if Trump offered a billion dollars to the Clinton Foundation she would drop out tomorrow. As for Trump I guess the Federal government taking over education finally worked, it now appears we have the dumbest electorate in our nations history. It is time someone started an Anarchist party with the sole purpose of getting rid of the leeches we call politicians.

  11. The only reason Hillary Clinton is less unpopular than Trump at this point is that she’s been treated with relative kid gloves in her primary, which has allowed her to hide out and not have to explain herself. She won’t get that treatment in a general election, and people will hate her on the public stage…because they always do.

    1. Trump will rope her. Ripe her! Reap her!! Rip her!!!

    2. If anyone has any doubts about this, watch the respective victory speeches of Trump and Clinton last night.

      Trump is a dangerous demagogic blowhard, but he’s genuine, he’s funny, and a he’s a wild man with a gift for extemporaneous bullshittery. Hillary is just a garden-variety sociopath, and she just got bloodied by Bernie Sanders of all people in spite of her campaign’s attempts to hide her away.

      If I had to guess the Democrat strategy, it’s to run Bill out there as her good cop–basically having personable characters like BHO and Bill doing the campaigning while Hillary shakes babies and kisses hands–and keep HRC’s exposure minimized outside of speeches and debates. Maybe if you finesse it just right she can ride their coattails one last time, but it’s a tough row to hoe when your candidate is so obviously toxic to the electorate.

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