By: Todd Sammis – Inside Politics Participant
At this stage of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, most people are very well versed in the campaign of Republican candidate Donald Trump. Since he first announced his run for the White House back in June, his campaign has become a nationwide phenomenon.
The success of the billionaire real-estate mogul’s campaign has managed to shock both political thinkers and average Americans alike. Trump, a political outsider that has never held public office and who is notorious for his hot temper and large ego, was seriously doubted. The New York Times stated: “Trump faces an uphill battle to be taken serious by his rivals, political watchers, and the media.”
The nation remains divided on his White House run: many think he is destined to implode. He has been has offended a large number of Americans including women, Hispanics, Muslims, and even John McCain. It’s no secret Trump has made countless controversial remarks since beginning his campaign, and has taken extreme stances on many issues, specifically immigration. His lack of political correctness, and arguably rude and elitist demeanor, have angered millions of American voters. Yet shockingly, his campaign has been, and still is, wildly successful. The current Real Clear Politics average shows Trump as the frontrunner of GOP candidates with 26.8% of support of the polls and nearly a 5% margin over runner up Ben Carson. So, how is he doing it?
Many major media outlets have focused heavily on Trump’s campaign, receiving fantastic ratings from the millions of viewers in the process. People tuned in to see what Trump would say or do next and waited for him to eventually implode. As the campaign progressed, however, the implosion never came. His face was plastered everywhere. One could not watch the nightly news or even go on Twitter without seeing his provocative behavior being discussed or criticized, often leaving many of his fellow GOP candidates in the background. This intense media coverage has arguably been the key to his campaign’s success. It wasn’t until the Republican debates that there was any wavering in the Trump campaign. Carson, Fiorina, Bush, and Rubio, receiving more media coverage than some of them had received since entering the race, gained some ground on the frontrunner. Since then, Trump hasn’t let up. Using a proven Hollywood tactic, he has applied the media frenzy toward his Presidential campaign, and done it well. The extensive media coverage that he has commandeered has been one of the most important factors to the success of his campaign thus far.
Trump has never held any sort of public office, which, for many, seems like a major disadvantage. Trump, however, has utilized this resume in his favor. The American approval ratings of Washington are extremely low (46% for President Obama and 14% for Congress as of September 13th) and many Americans are looking for a change. Trump has tapped into the built up frustration that the American public holds towards today’s stagnant national government, using his ‘outsider’ status as an asset: a common campaign strategy. In this instance, it’s worked remarkably, rewarding both him and his fellow ‘outsider’ rivals Fiorina and Carson handsomely.
Many of Trump’s rival GOP candidates have attempted to sidestep the most controversial topics, (particularly before the primary) trying to keep themselves in good standing with as many American voters as possible. Trump however, is holding nothing back; he unapologetically says exactly what he wants and doesn’t care who he hurts or offends in the process. Many of Trump’s supporters respect him for his odd transparency. He plays no political games and has earned the trust of many American voters. On the other hand, many find his lack of tact unfitting for a presidential candidate.
Election Day is still a year away, and a lot can happen until then. It’s impossible to say how long the Trump campaign can stay this successful. Unpredictable has been an understatement when describing Trump’s run; the Hollywood strategy that has led him to the top of the polls has never been utilized over long periods of time. However, if the past six months are any indication, Trump cannot be counted out of the race to the White House.