When Donald Trump initially announced his decision to stand for the Republican Presidential nomination, it was dismissed by many as a joke.
Yet, four months down the line, Trump’s popularity has grown massively – three out of the last four national surveys conducted in the US show the property tycoon and reality TV star as the frontrunner in the race to become the Republican candidate for the 2016 presidency, ahead of both Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, the former Florida Governor and brother of George.
The magnate has already carved himself a niche as a somewhat divisive and controversial figure, offending whole swathes of the population – from Mexicans to Senator John McCain. He urged Americans to boycott the Latin American country, and described Mexican immigrants living in the US as ‘rapists‘. On John McCain, the former Republican Presidential candidate and current Senator for Arizona (who was imprisoned in Hanoi for five years during the Vietnam War) he said: ‘He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.’
Such comments have clearly provoked negative reaction and condemnation from all quarters, both within the Republican party itself and further afield. However, some commentators have suggested that, somewhat paradoxically, statements such as these could be a major source of his popularity. The suggestion is that the tycoon is appealing to an ageing group of Republican voters who feel ‘alienated‘ by the presidency of Barack Obama and a growing immigrant population.
Some radio stations supporting the Republican Party have also aided Trump in branching out and spreading his popularity. Multiple US radio hosts on conservative leaning talk stations have been described as boosting Trump’s prospects through discussions relating to the man on their shows. Mike Gallagher, host of a show syndicated across the US, was reported as suggesting that Trump is channeling the frustration of some who feel rejected by the Republican establishment and are generally disenfranchised when it comes to politics:
I suspect this is a lot deeper than just a guy who is a provocateur.
Thousands and thousands, if not more people, seem to love what Donald Trump is saying
Another potential reason for the popularity of Trump is vast amount of funding at the disposal of his campaign. In a filing sent to the US Federal Election Commission, a number of statistics are revealed about the property mogul’s finances, indicating that he is the highest earning candidate in the 2016 presidential race, with earnings of at least $380 million. In addition to this, Trump’s assets are also worth around $1.4 billion.
Whether it is because of his unorthodox approach to politics, or simply because of the resources at his disposal, it is clear that Donald Trump is changing the nature of the fight for the Republican Presidential nomination in ways that no other candidate would perhaps consider. The brash and loud individual certainly cannot be quietened down easily but it remains to be seen whether this will be an asset or lead to his downfall – either way he seems to have appeal.