US presidential race 2016
As noted by Crispin Rovere in 'The Shocking Truth: Why a Trump Presidency could be good for ANZUS', Donald Trump has boasted he hasn't had to spend any money on advertising because he gets so much free media coverage. And why not? The same straight talking that wows the crowds makes for terrific soundbites. And as the clip below demonstrates, his campaign also does a fine line in stunts, to help get the message across.
It all seems to be paying off. Polls taken in early voting states consistently place Trump first or second, while the HuffPost Pollster, that tracks 227 polls, shows he is still well ahead nationally.
The big problem many of those who are calling this race have when it comes to Trump is they don't understand why comments and actions they find reprehensible don't dent his popular appeal.
In recent weeks one of the Trump controversies that lasts a few days until it is overtaken by another saw the candidate taking aim at New York Times reporter. It was another installment in the debate over the veracity of the Trump claim that Muslims celebrated 9/11 by dancing in the streets. Turns out there was a reference to such celebrations in a Washington Post article at the time. The reporters who wrote that story now say that, while they tried, they couldn't verify the reports. Trump went to town. One of the reporters, Serge Kovaleski (since moved to the NYT) has a joint disease that causes hooking of the hands. When Trump referred to the 'poor guy', he also began a very odd series of jerky physcial moves which many thought were an attempt to mimic Kovaleski. A full account of the to and fro can be found in this column in the Wall Street Journal by James Taranto who casts doubt on Trump's denial that he did not know about the reporter's disability. Taranto goes on to say:
It appears to us far likelier that the similarity between the candidate’s gesticulations and the reporter’s infirmity was mockery than pure coincidence.
To judge from our Twitter feed, which includes a good number of conservative journalists, that’s the media consensus across ideological lines. One suspects that, as has often happened before, Trump’s supporters will see the matter differently. Which brings us to the Trump paradox: How can his supporters and his detractors see the same behavior in such drastically different lights?
Following Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the country, there was more in the same vein. But Trump's fans are not easily put off. Politico Magazine writer Adam Wran journeyed into Indiana to an otherwise unremarkable patch that has managed to to back the winner in all but two presidential elections since 1888, And who do the Republican voters in this seat of Terre Haute like this time round? You guessed it.
In America’s most prophetic county seat, Trump enjoys a diverse coalition of support, from the 17-year-old punk high school student on the eve of his first election to the 81-year-old Kennedy voter to the kind of folks who will reshuffle their Thursday night plans to attend a county GOP 'Politics and Pies' event. Coastal pundits might lament Trump’s appeal to the 'low information voter' — but I can tell you one thing: Terre Haute citizens are anything but poorly informed.
And if Trump can make it here — in this hollowed-out county of swing voters, union halls, three universities and a knot of CSX railroad lines, where voters seem to have a knack for predicting unpredictable elections — he can make it anywhere.