Unpacking the Trump surge

Today Donald Trump continues to ride the crest of the GOP primary wave in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and remains at the top in Iowa.

However, his campaigning style is far from the norm, even by American standards. It has taken me hours of reading to understand Trump and his popularity.

Accepting Sarah Palin’s recent endorsement on January 19 seemed like an odd chalk-and-cheese thing, until reports emerged saying it was a dog-whistle to Evangelicals supporting Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz. Even though Mama Grizzly said some strange things, her approval did the trick. She knows influential people in Iowa and remains popular with the public.

On January 24, Fox News reported (emphases mine):

Trump bests Ted Cruz in Iowa and now receives 34 percent support among Republican caucus-goers.  Trump was at 23 percent in the Fox News Poll two weeks ago (January 4-7).

Cruz is second with 23 percent — down a touch from 27 percent.  Marco Rubio comes in third with 12 percent, down from 15 percent.  No others garner double-digit support.

Among caucus-goers who identify as “very” conservative, Cruz was up by 18 points over Trump earlier this month.  Now they each receive about a third among this group (Cruz 34 percent vs. Trump 33 percent).

There’s been a similar shift among white evangelical Christians.  Cruz’s 14-point advantage is now down to a 2-point edge.

Earlier, Trump questioned Cruz’s natural-born status. On January 15, a Texas lawyer filed a lawsuit against Cruz on the matter. Cruz supporters considered that a sour grapes move. This made Palin’s appearance timely and welcome, especially since she was at one time a Cruz supporter.

More endorsements have been rolling in, despite the Donald’s odd pronouncements over the past few weeks, never mind last year.

On January 26, Jerry Falwell Jr, president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and son of the late evangelist, gave Trump his blessing. The Washington Post (WaPo) reported:

In a statement, Falwell called Trump “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”

Trump appeared at the university on January 18, where Falwell gave him an effusive introduction:

“In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment,” Falwell said.

“He cannot be bought, he’s not a puppet on a string like many other candidates … who have wealthy donors as their puppet masters,” he added.

The first point may be over the top, but the second is spot on.

This, too, is a Trump dig at Cruz, who launched his campaign at Liberty last year. It is a coveted location for conservative politicians to speak and be seen. It sends a sign to Evangelicals that they are notionally genuine.

Trump had courted Falwell for months last year. WaPo tells us that several private phone calls were exchanged. By the end of 2015, Falwell publicly encouraged Trump. Now he has endorsed him.

In a further call to conservative Christians, Trump now begins his rallies with a prayer. One was given by a Dallas megachurch pastor.

Last Sunday, Trump attended a Presbyterian church service — his denomination. He spent time talking with members of the congregation and posed for photographs.

Support for the property king has also come in not only from black pastors but also the National Black Republican Association which endorsed Trump on January 22. Frances Rice wrote:

As citizens who happen to be black, we support Mr. Trump because he shares our values. We, like Mr. Trump, are fiscally conservative, steadfastly pro-life and believers in a small government that fosters freedom for individuals and businesses, so they can grow and become prosperous.

We are deeply concerned about illegal immigration, a major cause of high black unemployment, especially among black youth.

Black Americans across America are beginning to wake up and see clearly the reality of what is happening in black neighborhoods. Democrats have run black communities for the past 60 years and the socialist policies of the Democrats have turned those communities into economic and social wastelands, witness Detroit, Baltimore and South Chicago.

We believe that Mr. Trump has demonstrated that he can push back against the mainstream media, end political correctness and free black communities from the destructive grip of socialist Democrats.

Well said.

The latest news is the kerfuffle over Thursday’s GOP debate to be aired on Fox News. These debates have given Fox blockbuster ratings over the past several months. Many Americans think this is because Donald Trump has been on every one of them. People are tuning in to see him. However, Megyn Kelly, who makes no bones about her dislike of Trump, will be one of the reporters fielding questions to the candidates.

She and Trump locked horns in an earlier debate and Trump wants no more of it.

So, he has decided to stage an alternative event which he would like run on a competing network that night at the same time the Fox debate airs. That would take the wind out of their ratings sails.

Allahpundit at Hot Air thinks the strategy could backfire:

It’s a bold move to which Iowans would react unpredictably. Some undecideds might take it as proof that he’s scared of Kelly and/or Cruz; some might dismiss him as a narcissist who can’t bear to share the stage for his closing argument; some might regard it as arrogance, as though he thinks the race is won and no longer has to compete as eagerly for votes. Skipping the debate also would mean no Trump rebuttal of the inevitable Cruz attacks on his record.

That’s what I thought, too, until I read another analysis.

Hillary is 44, a website that initially supported Clinton in 2008 (as the 44th President) but then went to McCain that year and Romney in 2012, is a Trump supporters mecca of ex-Democrats. The unknown ‘admin’ writes every post and moderates the comments.

Admin seems to hit it right out of the park in political analysis and is correct more often than Allahpundit. On the debate storm, admin had this to say (emphasis in the original):

Donald J. Trump has once again demonstrated The Art of the Deal. Trump has placed himself in a win/win/win position.

First Trump win: if Trump attends the Fox News debate the added drama of Kelly v Trump heightens viewership and ratings proving Trump’s center stage power.

Second Trump win: if Trump attends the Fox News debate he can attack Megyn Kelly at will because Trump has prepped the battlefield and informed the viewers that Megyn Kelly is unfair and unbalanced.

Third Trump win: Trump is well ahead in Iowa so he comes from a position of strength if he decides to stage an event opposite the Fox News debate.

Whatever Trump does in this instance, he wins. If Trump would follow our advice and stage a debate on a broadcast station such as CBS, ABC, or even the loathsome NBC, Trump would get the eyeballs and Fox News would lose.

Trump should debate Bernie Sanders … Epic.


Sanders would probably agree to do it, too. Most Americans don’t know who the US Senator (and former Congressman) of Vermont is. This would be a great opportunity both for the left-wing Democratic candidate and the voters. It would also be a big ratings hit for whatever network decided to broadcast it. Whether that can be done in such a short time is another matter. However, it would not come as news to find out that Trump’s people were already arranging something before he announced he would not appear at the debate.

Many Europeans are mystified by Trump’s success. However, as the conservative-libertarian Ace at Ace of Spades put it:

… my priority is reforming the GOP into an institution which actually serves voters and not just the Chamber of Commerce and a dozen deep-pocketed, socially-liberal mega-donors …

So for me, it has to be Cruz, or Trump. I’d prefer Cruz, as I keep saying. I’ll take Trump, though, because, while he’s kind of stupid and temperamentally unsuited for the job, he would nevertheless also serve as a repudiation of the Establishment’s Corporate Client “Conservatism.”

The GOP is nakedly now a “clientist” party the same as the Democrat Party. They just have different clients.

And those clients aren’t us.

Millions of Americans couldn’t agree more.

2 comments for “Unpacking the Trump surge

  1. January 27, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Excellent analysis but to me, there are two reasons for the popularity, whether or not it’s true:

    1. He says he’s not owned by anyone;
    2. He says it like it is.

    • January 27, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Even then, if a candidate goes too far off piste, they’re through.

      So far, there is method in the madness of his strategy. By rights, no one bringing Sarah Palin to the fore should have succeeded so well (especially when her son had just been arrested), but he and his people are out there gathering intelligence and developing relationships to excellent effect. What shouldn’t work and what hasn’t in the past — brashness, putting opponents into the long grass — is successful for him every time.

      I’ve thought ‘Trump’s jumped the shark’ on several occasions , yet he pulls through again and again, better than before.

      Trump is several jumps ahead of everyone else — for the time being, anyway.

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