EVERGREEN INSIGHTS: A WEEKLY SNAPSHOT
Donald Trump’s net favorable rating among Republicans increased significantly over the past two weeks, putting him among the top six Republicans overall on this measure. Ted Cruz’s image also improved, while Carly Fiorina’s and Ben Carson’s images remain significantly better than they were before the Aug. 6 debate. John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are among those whose images worsened. (…)Trump’s net favorability rating among Republicans climbed 16 points over the last two weeks. This marks a significant shift; Trump’s image previous to the last two weeks had been relatively stable despite the extraordinary media attention his candidacy has engendered. He now joins Fiorina and Carson as having chalked up the largest gains on this dimension since mid-July. Trump had near-universal name identification when Gallup tracking began in July, and he retains the distinction of being the best known of the candidates. Still, even with his significant image gains, Trump remains sixth on the net favorability list, trailing Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Cruz and Huckabee. (…)
Despite some political analysts’ expectations that Trump’s bombastic style and controversial statements could begin to weaken his standing among Republicans, the businessman and TV personality’s net favorable score has actually jumped over the past two weeks, and he is now in a much stronger position image-wise than in mid-July. From a broad perspective, these data show no signs yet of an overall backlash among rank-and-file Republicans to his campaign, style or issue positions. (…)
The debate on Sept. 16 is the next major milestone in the long, expensive and arduous trek toward the first actual votes to be cast next February.
Seems like many Republicans are not regular readers of The Economist…
Trump’s America Why the Donald is dangerous
(…) Americans are waking up to the possibility that a man whose hobby is naming things after himself might—conceivably—be the nominee of the party of Lincoln and Reagan. It is worth spelling out why that would be a terrible thing. Fortunately, the Donald’s own words provide a useful guide.
Mr Trump is not in thrall to the hobgoblins of consistency. On abortion, he has said both “I’m very pro-choice” and “I’m pro-life”. On guns, he has said “Look, there’s nothing I like better than nobody has them” and “[I] fully support and back up the Second Amendment” (which guarantees the right to bear arms). He used to say he wanted a single-payer health service. Now he is much vaguer, promising only to replace Obamacare with “something terrific”. In 2000 he sought the presidential nomination of the Reform Party. A decade ago he said “I probably identify more as Democrat.” Now he is a Republican. (…)
His approach to foreign affairs is equally crude. He would crush Islamic State and send American troops to “take the oil”. He would “Make America great again”, both militarily and economically, by being a better negotiator than all the “dummies” who represent the country today. Leave aside, for a moment, the vanity of a man who thinks that geopolitics is no harder than selling property. Ignore his constant reminders that he wrote “The Art of the Deal”, which he falsely claims is “the number-one-selling business book of all time”. Instead, pay attention to the paranoia of his worldview. “[E]very single country that does business with us” is ripping America off, he says. “The money [China] took out of the United States is the greatest theft in the history of our country.” He is referring to the fact that Americans sometimes buy Chinese products. He blames currency manipulation by Beijing, and would slap tariffs on many imported goods. He would also, in some unspecified way, rethink how America protects allies such as South Korea and Japan, because “if we step back they will protect themselves very well. Remember when Japan used to beat China routinely in wars?”
Mr Trump’s secret sauce has two spices. First, he has a genius for self-promotion, unmoored from reality (“I play to people’s fantasies. I call it truthful hyperbole,” he once said). Second, he says things that no politician would, so people think he is not a politician. Sticklers for politeness might object when he calls someone a “fat pig” or suggests that a challenging female interviewer has “blood coming out of her wherever”. His supporters, however, think his boorishness is a sign of authenticity—of a leader who can channel the rage of those who feel betrayed by the elite or left behind by social change. It turns out that there are tens of millions of such people in America.
The country has flirted with populists in the past, but none has won a major-party presidential nomination since William Jennings Bryan in 1908. The closest any true firebrand has come was in 1996, when Pat Buchanan, whose slogan was “The peasants are coming with pitchforks”, won the Republican primary in New Hampshire against a dull establishment candidate, Bob Dole. (Mr Dole later won the nomination.)
Mr Trump is far more dangerous than Pitchfork Pat, for two reasons. First, as a billionaire, he will not run out of money to finance his campaign. Second, he faces so many Republican opponents that he could grab the nomination with only a modest plurality of the vote. The smart money still says that Republicans will eventually unite behind a mainstream candidate, as they always have in the past. But the world cannot take this for granted. Demagogues in other countries sometimes win elections, and there is no compelling reason why America should always be immune. Republicans should listen carefully to Mr Trump, and vote for someone else.
…Or friends of the WSJ’s Bret Stephens:
The Donald and the Demagogues Democracies that trade substance for charisma don’t last. Trump is America’s answer to Hugo Chávez.
If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.
If you have reached physical maturity and still chuckle at Mr. Trump’s pubescent jokes about Rosie O’Donnell or Heidi Klum, you will never reach mental maturity. If you watched Mr. Trump mock fellow candidate Lindsey Graham’s low poll numbers and didn’t cringe at the lack of class, you are incapable of class. If you think we need to build new airports in Queens the way they build them in Qatar, you should be sent to join the millions of forced laborers who do construction in the Persian Gulf. It would serve you right.
Since Mr. Trump joined the GOP presidential field and leaped to the top of the polls, several views have been offered to explain his popularity. He conveys a can-do image. He is the bluntest of the candidates in addressing public fears of cultural and economic dislocation. He toes no line, serves no PAC, abides no ideology, is beholden to no man. He addresses the broad disgust of everyday Americans with their failed political establishment.
And so forth and so on—a parade of semi-sophisticated theories that act as bathroom deodorizer to mask the stench of this candidacy. Mr. Trump is a loudmouth vulgarian appealing to quieter vulgarians. These vulgarians comprise a significant percentage of the GOP base. The leader isn’t the problem. The people are. It takes the demos to make the demagogue. (…)
When people become indifferent to the ideas of their would-be leaders, those leaders become prone to dangerous ideas. Democracies that trade policy substance for personal charisma tend not to last as democracies. They become Bolivarian republics. Donald Trump may be America’s Hugo Chávez, minus the political consistency. (…)
Still, Mr. Trump’s political star is rising in a period when fringe politics, both on the right and the left, are making a comeback in the West. Marine Le Pen in France. Beppe Grillo in Italy. Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party. Every now and then some of these characters get into office. Look at Viktor Orbán in Hungary, or Alexis Tsipras in Greece.
Republicans like to think of America as an exceptional nation. And it is, not least in its distaste for demagogues. Donald Trump’s candidacy puts the strength of that distaste to the test.
Dogged by continued scrutiny of her email practices as secretary of state, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s favorability with the American public has sunk to one of its lowest levels in Gallup’s 23-year trend. Currently, 41% of U.S. adults say they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic front-runner, while 51% hold an unfavorable view. (…)
Clinton’s sub-40% favorable ratings in 1992 were mostly a product of the public’s lack of familiarity with her, rather than any kind of broad unpopularity. By contrast, her current 41% favorable rating is arguably her worst, given her nearly universal name recognition. Her present rating is about as low as it was in March 2001, during her first few months in office as a U.S. senator from New York. Perhaps more importantly, it was also after controversial pardons that her husband, President Bill Clinton, granted at the end of his presidency, and after the Clintons took furnishings and other gifts that were White House property when they left. (…)
Clinton’s diminishing popularity with national adults notwithstanding, she remains well-liked among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic — the key audience she needs to appeal to in a Democratic primary. For the two-week period ending Sept. 1, 74% of Democrats had a favorable view of Clinton, the same as when Gallup began tracking these data on a daily basis in early July.