NEW YORK – While most media focus all attention on the personality cult behind the Trump brand, or the idea that he hates Muslims, Blacks and Hispanics, here we will tell you why Donald J. Trump is ahead in the polls and why his message resonates more than that of any other candidate.
First of all, Trump has made a signature of his campaign to talk about issues that touch the lives of people all over the United States. In no particular order they are: Trade, and its strong relation to jobs, immigration and nationalism, the antithesis to globalism.
Trump was severely criticized by pundits, RNC heads and neocons all over the mainstream media after his foreign policy speech last week, but the truth is that the top three choices, -trade-jobs, immigration and nationalism- he tirelessly talks about are exactly what people want to hear. The question is why?
The reason why people want to hear about jobs, immigration and nationalism is because they lack tangible solutions for problems related to all three of them. Americans lack well-paying jobs, a clear immigration policy that strengthens borders security and a strong message from any of the candidates regarding American nationalism.
The key to Trump’s success is not his populism, arrogance or egocentrism. In fact, if one were to define who are Trump’s supporters, it would be impossible to paint them all with the same brush.
At the beginning of the campaign, most people believed that not being a career politician would be a feature that would take Trump’s campaign further than expected, and it did. “Just because he is not part of politicking and is an outsider, I may vote in November,” says Janet O’Connor, receptionist, 56, who voted for Obama four years ago.
It is not a secret that Trump has attracted Democrats to his campaign. As of today, according to a Rasmussen poll which places Trump over Hillary 41% to 39%, the Republican candidate has pulled the attention of 15% of Democrats, who might just vote for him in November.
Mr. Trump has attracted more voters than any other Republican candidate in years. He has not only outplayed his party’s opponents, but he has also smashed Clinton and rivaled Bernie Sanders in attendance to his speeches around the country.
So who are Donald Trump’s supporters?
More than two thirds of the people who support Trump today (69%) agree with him that immigration and immigrants, as they are arriving into the country, are a burden to the US.
A similar percentage of Trump’s followers (64%) also believe that Muslims coming into the United States should go through tougher controls. This is not because Trump or his followers hate Muslims, as people like to point out, but because the American immigration laws have been set aside to let in hundreds of thousands of refugees, many of whom do not have the proper paperwork, therefore making it impossible to vet them.
More than half of Trump supporters are either unemployed or underemployed. Many of them have stopped looking for work as they have spent months or years trying to regain their footing. A total of 56% of Trump’s supporters explain that it is getting harder and harder to find work.
Surprisingly, almost half of Trump’s followers advocate for legalizing abortion in most cases, something that differs with the traditional stance of the Republican party, and more with the ideas of conservative voters. To this group of people who are in favor of making abortion legal in most cases, we need to add almost 40% who believe that gay marriage should be legal.
Large numbers of Trump supporters (73%) are in favor of not reducing social security benefits, which is exactly what is being proposed in back rooms by traditional candidates, not only regarding social security, but also in the case of healthcare.
Many Trump fans also explain that the current economic system solely favors the richest and most powerful people in the country. From the total, 61% rejects this situation, while 50% understand that the economy is not only not well, but also getting worse.
The data shown above confirm that Trump’s supporters are a strong mix of middle-aged, conservative and low income Americans. That is exactly the segment that has suffered the most under the Obama administration. From the total, 45% of Donald Trump’s supporters are men. The average age of his growing base is 55 years old, with 48% of them having little or no education. Around 43% call themselves conservative, while 51% are low income, working-class people and 51% say they do not have a specific religious denomination.
As has happens in France with the rise and consolidation of the National Front, a party supported by workers and people who have never voted in their lives, in the United States the working class has expanded its disenchantment with the establishment. They are the Americans without university degrees who believe, and rightfully so, that globalization has “exported” their jobs to states-China, India or very close to Mexico.
These voters make up an electoral bank that exceeds the cliché of the genre and encompasses both men and women. With no economic recovery in sight after the bloody 2008 and 2009 bust, and an unemployment rate around 5% (with cooked numbers), the annual income of the average household is $4,000, below that of 2007, according to The Economist.
Surveys are very sharp. Trump is the candidate that best capitalizes on discontent, pessimism and consequent frustrations. Another recent survey, regardless of the election campaign, reveals that half of Americans believed that “America’s best days are a thing of the past.”
With a comfortable margin, Trump is the favorite for Republican voters who believe they have to raise taxes on the wealthiest (51%), the most voted among those earning less than $50,000 a year, and those who believe that “immigrants today are a burden for the country”.
This reality is the short and sweet explanation for why Donald J. Trump seems to be on the way to securing the Republican nomination, despite all the dirty ads and attacks coming from everyone from Pope Francis to a former Mexican president.