Here are two critical points concerning Donald Trump. First, he is barely a Republican. Second, he is certainly not a conservative.
It is obvious that Trump is leading the field of 17 Republican candidates. His support in four recent polls all had Trump in first place, ranging from a low of 21 percent in the Bloomberg poll to 26 percent in both the Fox poll and the Monmouth University poll.
That’s the good news for Trump. The bad news is that Trump may move up a few points, but he has reached the zenith of his support. A recent Economist/YouGov.com survey found that about a third of Americans had a favorable view of Trump and 58 percent had an unfavorable view. Trump will soon be taking the “down” elevator in public opinion polls.
The same poll found that when the numbers were broken down by age, race, region, gender and income, Trump’s unfavorables were substantially higher in every category but one: voters 65 and older. His support among African-Americans, Hispanics and women is almost nonexistent.
A Rasmussen Poll released Tuesday found strong evidence that the Trump decline may have already started. A survey of 651 likely Republican voters, conducted between Sunday and Monday, found that support for Trump has declined from 24 percent to 17 percent in the past 10 days. Trump’s support among men has fallen from 30 percent to 19 percent, and support from women has dropped from 22 percent to 14 percent.
Trump is at the top right now because he is perceived as the non-politician in the age where Americans of all political stripes hate the establishment. Voters are frustrated and alienated with politics and politicians, and Trump has successfully appealed to them.
Trump’s supporters see him as the outsider who will shake up the system, much like those who supported George Wallace and Ross Perot were viewed as political mavericks. Trump’s one major contribution to the presidential race is that he has demonstrated to the other candidates that the voters do not like them and their hollow promises one bit.
Trump will falter for many reasons. As Larry Thornberry has written in The American Spectator, a leading conservative publication, Trump is “an arrogant, self-satisfied, crude and pompous windbag and bully who grossly overestimates his knowledge, his successes, and, not the least, his charm.” He attacks any critic as “stupid” or “loser,” but has a political glass jaw when he is criticized.
Trump will lose because he is running as a Republican this year simply because he feels like it. He quit the party in 1999, saying that “Republicans are just too crazy right.” He then hired Roger Stone, who resigned as Trump’s campaign manager a few days ago, to consider a 2000 run as a Reform Party candidate.
In 2009, Trump was back as a Republican. The next year he decided he was an independent, and then in 2012, he was once again a Republican. His moving from one political party to another, all for political expediency, might remind Florida voters of Gov. Charlie Crist.
Trump is the Bernie Sanders of the Republican Party. Both Trump and Sanders are running to lead a party that neither really calls home and that both have spent more time disparaging than uplifting it.
During most of the first decade of the 21st century, the vast majority of the $1.5 million that Trump donated to political candidates went to Democrats, including contributions to Nancy Pelosi and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
When asked about his contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, Trump justified them by saying, “When you give, they do whatever you want them to.” I am sure that will appeal to Americans who hate politics for precisely that reason.
Trump will lose because he is not a conservative in a party that is dominated by conservatives. In a 2000 book Trump called himself a “liberal” on health care. He supported a single-payer health plan that conservatives loathe, and he was once pro-choice, although he now says he is against abortion.
A few years ago, Trump supported a 14.25 percent mega-tax on those making over $10 million. Now he wants to cut income taxes in half. As Bruce Bartlett, former aide to U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp, said of Trump: “He is nothing if not inconsistent. He’s been on every side of every issue from every point of view as far as I can tell.”
If you have not noticed, Trump is also delusional. He calls immigrants “rapists and murderers,” and then says he will win the Hispanic vote. He insults conservative icon Megyn Kelly for attacking him unfairly and having blood coming out her eyes and “whatever.” Trump also believes he will win the votes of women.
Republicans, conservatives and Americans deserve better than Trump. “Donald, you’re fired!”
Darryl Paulson is professor emeritus of government at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and resides in Palm Harbor.