With another GOP debate imminent, poll leader Donald Trump will have several more opportunities to antagonize opponents, media members, and various segments of the public, as he has done repeatedly in recent months.
Thus far, it hasn’t hurt him. At all.
The flurry of activity around the blessed return of football this past weekend knocked loose a few rocks in my head that led me to contemplate Donald Trump’s consistently strong polling numbers from a gridiron-centric perspective.
I’ll explain in a minute, but Trump’s popularity is a fascinating phenomenon that begs analysis in search of explanation. To be sure, there are some who genuinely like Trump. And I absolutely understand his visceral appeal and charisma. Every other candidate, to some degree, projects a personality that ranges from “reserved” to “programmed-by-a-focus-group.”
Trump is many things, but he is neither shy nor bland. He understands popular culture better than the other potential nominees because he has been an integral part of popular culture for the better part of three decades. That appeals to a lot of people. On top of that, his support is also fueled a layer of Tea-Party-esque frustration with the GOP’s inability to deliver the White House in two attempts against Barack Obama. Trump, partially through his birtherism history, taps into and harnesses that frustration.
Yet, most Republicans—including many of Trump’s supporters—seem to hold views that clash with Trump’s, immigration excepted. While his more skeptical conservative critics rightly question whether he even qualifies as a conservative at all, there is no doubt that he remains relatively popular with Republicans.
Granted, the inherently fractured nature of support for over a dozen GOP candidates makes Trump’s percentages seem more commanding than they are, but the fact remains that he’s been the front-runner for a while now. And we’ve sailed past the point where his success can be explained entirely by name recognition.
With all of the obvious issues, like the lack of depth of foreign policy knowledge and the questionable conservative bona fides, why is he doing so well?
This is where football comes in.