Trump’s rejection of the Republican donor base and one-hundred-percent reliance on his own wealth for campaign funding has allowed him the freedom to pander to the worst of the worst with extreme, sexists, and racist statements that appeal to a small fraction of the voting population. His larger than life persona coupled with a media frenzy that has become addicted to high ratings over responsible reporting has propelled him to the top, dominating GOP poll after poll.
And now for the first time he has polled competitively in the general election. But let’s not jump the gun just yet. It is still early in the election cycle and it is inevitable that the name leading the primary field at a given time will poll competitively. That’s just simple name recognition. And Trump has spent decades cultivating his brand. Also, let’s remember, on a national level Trump polls near the bottom with the two key voting groups that the GOP has to make inroads with if it wants a chance to take back the White House: women and Hispanics.
The bottom line is that women, regardless of age, are more likely to identify and vote Democrat than they are Republican. Women voters also outnumber men as registered voters. In 2008 women voted 57% for Obama versus 43% for McCain. In 2012 women voted 55% for Obama versus 44% for Romney. That’s more than a 10 point spread, and both McCain and Romney were considered moderate candidates for the GOP. And then you have Trump. The same CNN poll found that in a match-up against Democratic frontrunner women favor Clinton over Trump by 23 points. His sexists and anti-women messages have resonated. When he denounces women as “fat pigs, dogs, and slobs” or attacks a woman who needs to take a medical break to breast pump as “disgusting” he is making unmistakable misogynistic statements that a woman’s worth is defined by her looks and that the workplace has zero tolerance for motherhood. His anti-choice policy and support for defunding Planned Parenthood make him at odds with the majority of voting women who support expanded access to health care and reproductive services.
His comments on women pale in comparison to his recent positions on immigration and Mexico. As Trip Gabriel and Julia Preston noted in their New York Times article, Trump’s hard line anti-immigrant policy positions are not only pushing candidates to take similar positions to win base votes but are creating wider divisions with the national population. Aside from 2004 when George W. Bush won 44%, Republicans have traditionally only secured about one-third of the Latino vote. Reagan only won one-third of the vote and McCain, who supported comprehensive immigration reform, only received 31% in 2008. Most recent GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, who swung far right on immigration in his bid for the candidacy, received a pitiful 27% in his match-up against Obama in 2012. Hispanics are one of the fastest growing voting groups. By 2016 it is estimated that they will make up more than 11% of voters nationwide as a group that is identifying more and more as Democratic.
And Trump isn’t doing the party any favors. Aside from labelling Mexicans as “murderers and rapists”, his actual policies supporting “mass deportations” as well as removing birthright citizenship from the Constitution are PR nightmares. Such positions have sent a clear “you’re not welcome” message to the Latino community. Further, his position on repealing the ACA (Obamacare), one that is supported by all of the GOP candidates mind you, further alienates the Latino community. Expensive insurance, lack of providers, restrictive qualifiers, and high deductibles have been especially burdensome for the Latino community. According to a 2015 report by the HHS, since its implementation in 2010 16.4 million Americans have been able to obtain health insurance under Obamacare. Of that 16.4 million, Latinos make up 4.2 million. Prior to 2010 41.8% of the Latino community was uninsured. Since then the uninsured rate has dropped by 12.3%, the largest percentage rate decline of any group under Obamacare.
Trump became a conservative star in 2011 when he challenged President Obama’s citizenship. The base encouraged him to continue his attacks, giddy with a feverish delight that someone was finally giving them the national platform for their outright hatred of America’s first black president. And now they are tripping over their feet to support him as a serious candidate.
This is what happens when a celebrity runs as a candidate. He knows how to work a crowd with vague ideas and he has spent decades fine-tuning his bull dog tactic of belittling anyone who disagrees with him. Face it, Trump is good entertainment. As long as the GOP candidate pool remains bloated Trump will continue to lead by deflecting serious questions about his proposed policies by being able to point the finger at more than a dozen other candidates. His appeal will grow with the anti-anything base, forcing the other candidates to continue to tack right on issues that only serve to alienate the left and independents.