28 April 2016

39% of Americans see Trump’s rise as “good for democracy”


Although 50% of Americans find Donald Trump’s success in the Republican primary process “worrying” – because of the way he has offended so many social groups – 39% prefer to see good rather than bad from his rise. This large minority believe it is good for American democracy that a maverick outsider can break open the established way of doing things and see this as more noteworthy than the allegedly divisive nature of his candidacy:

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The YouGov First Verdict panel was also asked about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and, in another forced question, 43% of people thought her lack of political freshness was a bigger problem than Donald Trump being her likely opponent was an advantage:

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Jeet Heer at the New Republic suggests that Hillary Clinton SHOULD fear Donald Trump and should fear him, largely, because of the way he fights by his own outsider rules. This takes two forms – policy flexibility and the nature of his political attacks:

“There are reasons why the real estate mogul should be a far greater cause for fear than Cruz or Kasich. Cruz might be a political extremist, further to the right than any serious presidential candidate since at least Barry Goldwater. But the Texas senator is still bound by the rules of normal politics, still beholden to donors and constituencies that serve as a check on what he can say or do. Cruz would be a predictable opponent in that he’d follow a hyper-conservative script and make largely ideological arguments. Trump, in contrast, is not predictable in that manner and has no loyalty to traditional Republican causes. He could, as he has in the primaries, present himself as an opponent of the Iraq War and interventionism, a supporter of Planned Parenthood in non-abortion funding, an enemy of free trade pacts, and a defender of Social Security and Medicare.”

And secondly, the high octane nature of his negative campaigning:

“When Trump has gone birther against Barack Obama or Ted Cruz, he’s done so personally. This means that his attacks enter the mainstream of political discourse more quickly and stay there permanently. Clinton will end up facing the same dilemma that hurt Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and the other Republican candidates: If she responds to Trump’s attacks, she’ll sink to his level, but if she ignores them she may look weak or evasive.”

The whole piece is well worth a read.

For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

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Tim Montgomerie is Editor of Portrait of America