What is the Appeal of Donald Trump?

Yesterday, I was down on Wall Street with the kids and I saw some guy pull out his cell phone and take a video of the Trump sign outside of one of his buildings. I almost took a picture of the guy taking pictures of the Trump building. Because the Trump fans are more mysterious and interesting than the Trump himself.

Why is Donald Trump doing so well at the polls? Matt Yglesias says that it’s because people like his ideas.

I think that it’s all about name recognition and attitude. And maybe that big silly wall.

16 thoughts on “What is the Appeal of Donald Trump?

  1. That graphic (on SS & Immigration, correlated) is annoying (the graphic itself, not the content). I think the content — the idea of opposing increasing the size/inclusion of the community while at the same time wanting to be more communitarian, is a viewpoint that’s poorly represented in our political landscape, and that Trump may have stumbled into its appeal.

    But, I agree with the general premise we must consider the substantive reasons for Trump’s appear. I think dismissing the appeal as simple celebrity, without considering what he is saying is dangerous.

    And, I’m guessing that someone in NY taking a video of a Trump sign is just as likely to be meta-interested in Trump as to be a fan (and, as meta as someone taking a video of someone taking a video of Trump).


    1. Are you sure it’s some kind of communitarianism? I think it’s mostly just old people being cranky and impractical. That explains about 3/4th of what the Republican party has done lately.


      1. I’m not sure it’s just old, cranky people — is it? I thought there were younger cranky men, too. But then I can’t imagine encountering a Trump supporter in my world, which makes my speculation pretty academic.

        If I call it communitarian, it is a an exclusionary communitarianism (and, I can’t even propose what the form of communitarian means for women — I’m guessing women too are one of the excluded groups).


      2. There are some Trump supporters among my facebook friends. (Facebook friends is a much wider category than RL friends, and it includes a lot more working class people than my RL circles.) They aren’t particularly old, or particularly male. They are uniformly from the white working class.

        I don’t know if Steve’s office has any white secretaries, but if it does, they might well be Trump supporters. Or Laura might talk to the guys who built her porch. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were Trump supporters. There are white working class people all around, if you open your eyes and ears.


      3. All the white working class people around me, and there are lots of them, are Democrats. A few of the older ones I suspect vote Republican, but for historical reasons won’t admit it.


      4. The Republicans who aren’t really rich around here are all in the suburbs or extremely eclectic (e.g. the Republican primary for mayor was won by a guy who was on a TV show as a doomsday prepper and then moved to Israel – he said for a job, not because he had to get to Tel Megiddo – between the primary and the general).

        Nearly everybody I know in Nebraska who is a Republican is working class. All the educated ones switched parties over the past few years.


      5. The *unionized* white working class consistently votes Democratic. I’m typing this on my cell phone at break time on a good-sized construction site (over 60 workers); NO ONE here supports Trump. Granted, this is Illinois, but Trump’s mouthing off about McCain having been a POW has permanently turned off all the working class people in my world who weren’t already turned off by him.


  2. I wonder if he represents a kind of role model, if he is what people want to be. They feel so constrained, so full of FEELINGS and so discouraged from expressing them because of “political correctness.” But Trump? He can say whatever he wants! He doesn’t need to be polite. He can be rude and people will still love him. Whereas if I’m rude, y81 gets all butthurt and his disapproval makes me feeeeel baaaaaaad. But if I were Trump, y81 would be licking my shoes if I insulted him because I have The Money and The Hair and The TV Show and The Hot Spouse. Gosh, I wish I were Donald Trump.

    I want a list of every Trump fan, and I bet if I compiled such a list and was able to use the NSA records to find examples of them complaining about Obama and politicians and media, they’d be complaining about CIVILITY. They’d be saying there is NO CIVILITY in this world like back in the old days. So let’s support one of the most incivil politicians I’ve seen in my lifetime.

    The head spins.

    I just pointed out to my husband, who is listening to some NPR talk show on Trump right now, that it’s Silly Season. Just ride it out and it will go away.


  3. It seems pretty obvious that anyone with that kind of name recognition – who has headed up a successful tv show for years – would get a chunk of the vote at a time when the other candidates have mostly local appeal. (Of course people who have been paying attention to elections recognize some of them, but we’re talking about all Republicans.) I bet Kim Kardashian could get 10 percent of the vote if she ran.

    We’re also talking about 25-30 percent of Republican voters, so maybe 15 or so percent of the electorate. You know what else gets the vote of 15 percent of the electorate? Young earth creationism. (see http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2014/12/creationism_poll_how_many_americans_believe_the_bible_is_literal_inerrant.html).
    And that’s a hard 15 percent, by the way – 40% start out saying they believe in young earth creationism but you can get them to change their answers if you push.

    I’m not saying the overlap between these two things is one to one – probably Huckabee gets a lot of these votes. My point is that 15 percent of the U.S. population will believe, support, or vote for absolutely anything you can imagine.

    My feeling is that people like Trump because he tells them, “We can do whatever we want and get exactly what we want as a result.” It’s a simple message that relies on the idea that the solutions to our problems are simple. Obviously this is something all politicians, on both sides of the aisle, say from time to time. But I think he thinks it’s true of absolutely every problem we can imagine.


  4. Has he passed the Crazification level yet? Because if not, I still don’t care. Except for possibly the opportunity to see Hillary eat him alive on TV and win the presidency with 52 out of 50 states going for her instead of Trump.


  5. I see his message as basically threefold: ‘our politicals are weenies and self-dealing assholes and things have gone to Hell with them in charge, and I am uniquely able to cut through the crap and make things right again’. I don’t disagree with the first or second part, and I think a lot of people have noticed that, for example, Gore and Clintons have built substantial fortunes from their endeavors and that both parties put lovely opportunities in front of likely young people who can then repay by going into politics (Bush, Sen Warner, Rahm Emanuel, e.g.). There’s a pervasive sense that things are not generally going well in the world, and this happened while these guys were in the saddle, okay, that’s part 2. The ‘uniquely able to cut through…’ part seems ridiculous, to me. But I can see how people who are sufficiently angry about part one and part two might well glide right in to part three, because why not?


  6. I saw a good piece somewhere recently which noted that, at this time four years ago, the leader in the Republican polls was Michele Bachmann. So it may not be a productive use of time to think about Donald Trump a lot.


    1. Trump is a blowhard buffoon, so I hope he doesn’t stay important. Fiorina is doing a nice job with the ‘our politicals are weenies and self-dealing assholes and things have gone to Hell with them in charge’ part of his message, and rising in the polls, and I think Walker’s early success was from that, too. Calm even-tempered grownup doesn’t seem to be working very well for Bush – or for the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua.


  7. Further thought: he’s kinda fun, in a way that lots of others seem to dare not be. ” When asked if he feared a backlash against rich candidates like the one that damaged Romney, Trump responded, “Romney isn’t that rich.””


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