February 1, 2016, by Editor

Trump: why is he still winning?

Written by Martin Brezovan.

Donald Trump’s statements have stirred public discussion and prompted a wide spectrum condemnation since he decided to run for president of the United States some six months ago. In his candidacy announcement, he described  American politicians as ‘stupid’, but that was just the start. He would go on to pursue a hateful rhetoric directed against whole swathe of minorities within the US, initially Mexicans and then followed by Muslims. And yet- Trump still leads in the polls. Why?

First, Trump is a strong individual. Whatever one may accuse him of, one certainly cannot accuse him of a lack of resolve and firmness in both talk and actions. After all, as he himself likes to say, he has built a great company and made billions of dollars. As Trump indeed does have a successful record in the business world, his boastful behavior therefore arguably appears acceptable or even justified to many. Americans love successful people.

Second, Trump is coming to politics from outside of the ‘profession’. In fact, it seems it has become a trend that people are getting fed up with ’traditional’ politicians and look for alternative, non- standard solutions. In Europe, for instance, this has been visible in light of the Eurozone and migration crises in the form of growing support for parties and individuals considered not a part of the ‘mainstream politics’. In the US, Donald Trump skilfully uses such rhetoric, pointing out his (quite unique) non- dependency on donors and his success in the business world, as contrasted by what he criticizes as corruptness and incompetence of the establishment politicians.

Linked to this and to his loud mouthed style is the factor of authenticity. Like it or not, when there is ten people saying the same thing and one saying something different, the one will be the least doubted to be speaking frankly. Moreover, data shows that the majority of Americans see political correctness as a problem, which implies a high likelihood that many people actually do think what of all the candidates just Donald Trump dares to say- precisely because of the prevalent atmosphere of political correctness. Thus the authentic, even if controversial Trump surely wins a lot of votes thanks to his bold approach.

Thirdly, Trump’s popularity may also stem from his relationship with the media. Namely, this relationship has been rather negative. The media (particularly those considered to be pro- Democrat) seem to consistently focus on Trump’s controversial statements, seeking to discredit him. Trump, on the other hand, blames the media for being biased and unprofessional, positioning himself into the role of a victim in this relationship. Importantly, the numbers seem to be on Trump’s side here once again, with some 70 per cent of Americans claiming they don’t trust the mainstream media. As a result, a tougher media will probably not, and actually have not, hurt Trump’s poll numbers.

Finally, given that Donald Trump’s support has not decreased at all despite his highly controversial remarks, one might say that he is still winning simply because he is a populist and attracts the ‘stupid masses’. Well, there might be something into such a statement. The internet is full of articles on Trump’s populism. Populism, in turn, means appealing to the broad masses; and the broad masses are, broadly speaking, the lower/working classes. In any case, it has been showed that Trump’s supporters are predominantly those less educated i.e. without a college degree.

There may be other reasons, but Trump’s unceasing support is surely to a large degree the result of a combination of the above factors. A successful business story; complete self- confidence; authenticity and openness against the backdrop of an unpopular political correctness paradigm and untrusted media; and a populist swing. With that kind of combo, the Americans are absolutely unsurprisingly flocking toward this self- proclaimed ‘saviour’ of their country.

Martin Brevozan is a third year student studying a BA in History and Politics.His research interests include IR theory, political theory and language in politics. Image credit: CC by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

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