Donald Trump is known for having offensive and controversial views, but are they only helping his case?
The Summer of Trump is passing and it is about to be the Autumn of Donald. Defying all common beltway media wisdom, capturing the attention of the nation, making headlines with his brash and inflammatory comments and leaping tall buildings (which he owns) in a single bound, Donald J. Trump is leading in almost every recent national poll. What is the real estate developer leading polling in? The race to become the Republican Nominee for President of the United States.
Trump only recently announced that he would not run as an Independent, because that would have likely handed the race to the Democratic nominee, so he used the threat as a bargaining chip. He has had a very brash campaign style and other candidates like Governor Jeb Bush (brother to former President George Bush) and neurosurgeon Ben Carson have had trouble keeping up with the businessman.
Trump made a name for himself by becoming a successful real estate developer, reality TV star and putting his name on everything he owns, from the buildings he has developed to his helicopter. He is estimated to be worth over $4 billion by Forbes magazine, and is seen as a newcomer, but in actuality has had a foot in politics since 1999.His official website boasts he is “the very definition of the American success story,” and his campaign website is boldly subtitled “Make America Great Again.” It is no secret that Trump makes incendiary comments, but according to the national polls he stays the same or even gets a boost when he speaks his mind.
“He really doesn’t speak his mind, he just appeals to populism,” said Sam Carlen. When he says really inflammatory things it just fuels his base up and gets people’s blood boiling, but he alienates everyone else.”
During his presidential announcement speech, Trump said, “When Mexico is sending their people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump also said that he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico and have the Mexican government pay for it, according to a transcript from Time magazine.
“I think his ideas are a little too extreme,” said sophomore Aaron Bae. “As for the wall, I don’t think it would ever go up.” However, even with these comments that might sink another campaign, Trump seems to feed off of the controversy. Before his announcement speech, Trump was polling at one percent with Bush leading at 22 percent, according to a poll by NBC News/Wall Street Journal. After his speech, a poll by YouGov/Economist had him tied for first place with 11 percent.Even after proposing the end of birthright citizenship, insulting Senator John McCain’s war service and having a feud with Megyn Kelly, a moderator of the first Republican debate and refusing to apologize for his comments, Trump has lead almost every poll since July 17.
“He can’t do anything about birthright citizenship because that’s in the Constitution and the president has nothing to do with that,” said Nathan Johnson, AP US Government and Politics teacher, “and even if the president were to push for that sort of thing, Congress could just say no.”
“The end of birthright citizenship is ludicrous, it’s in the Constitution,” agreed Carlen.
Trump’s controversial policies have gotten him a boost in the polls, and some think he has a chance of winning the nomination. “I think he’s striking a nerve with people who aren’t politically correct 100 percent of the time,” said Bae. “The appeal of doing that is limited, but I think a lot of people agree with him in the sense of ‘you don’t have to censor everything you say, as long as it’s true.’”
“I think he has a very, very minor chance [of winning the Republican nomination],” said Carlen.
“There are a huge number of candidates on the Republican side,” said Johnson, “and 20 percent [of the votes] could win you the nomination, if the share is split up into that many pieces.” The question, Johnson said, is ‘what will happen when more and more candidates drop out?’ The fewer lower-tier candidates there are, the more percentage of the vote Trump would need to win. “It’s plausible,” he said.
While Trump’s no-nonsense businessman attitude and, of course, his poll numbers lead some to believe he will win, many are still skeptical.
“It’s much less plausible [for Trump] to win the general election,” said Johnson, citing the fact the 15 to 20 percent of the vote certainly can’t win a candidate the general election.
“I really don’t think he could win the general election with the number of people he has alienated,” said Carlen.
Meanwhile, there are candidates like Carson, Bush, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee who all still have a shot at the nomination. Cruz and Huckabee cater toward more conservative Republicans, while Carson and Bush are more moderate.
“I think [Carson] has a much broader appeal than Trump,” said Bae who also noted that Carson is not a mainstream politician, and therefore people who are frustrated with “politician politicians” like Carson are appealled by Trump. In the latest poll by Ipsos/Reuters, Carson comes in at second place with 12 percent. Bush on the other hand, is playing the long game.
“He has a lot of money, a lot of supporters who are influential,” said Johnson, “If Carson doesn’t do well soon, he won’t have the resources to keep going. Bush’s hope is that more and more people drop out and that all of the more moderate people would coalesce around him.”
However, Trump is leading the polls and attempting to become the most powerful man in the United States. Whatever way you look at it, come November 8, 2016, Americans may need to decide: Do you think Trump, with his brashness and inflammatory comments, can “make America great again?”