There’s no denying that Donald Trump is the candidate in the 2016 US Presidential election that provokes a response. He has die-hard supporters (which are fewer than you think, loud though they may be) and he has die-hard critics (which aren’t as fervent as you think, loud though they may be.)
He’s been able to collect loyal followers in the Republican Party based on one key philosophy: he says, “what everyone else is thinking.” Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all have their own interpretation of the accuracy of that sentiment, but a conservative Republican sect has jumped right on that jargon.
Trump has been able to call Mexicans rapists, propose a bill that would make it extremely difficult for Muslims to enter the United States, mock a reporter’s disability, mock female moderators during and after debates, and belittle war heroes within his own party. And supporters have eaten it all up, shared the soundbytes, and created signs to wave about based on his buzzwords.
And he may have finally gone too far. At the most recent Republican debate, Donald Trump seemed to throw out whatever talking points he had. He spent the majority of the debate poking fun at and libeling his fellow Republican nominees, culminating in jibes at candidate Jeb Bush’s family.
Unfortunately for Trump, most of his supporters are big fans of Jeb Bush’s family.
“The war in Iraq has been a big disaster. […] [George W. Bush] started the war in Iraq! Am I supposed to be a big fan?”
“We would’ve been so much better off if Bush and the rest of them went to the beach and didn’t do anything. […] Now, if you want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. That’s like the Harvard of terrorism.”
And perhaps the hardest self-administered kick to the teeth of the night, “How did [George W. Bush] keep us safe when the World Trade Center came down? I lost hundreds of friends. The World Trade Center came down during his reign. He kept us safe? That’s not safe. That is not safe. That is not safe.”
Oops. Even Democratic candidates know to stay away from, or at least very carefully plot out responses to how 9/11 was handled. And now Trump is on his way to South Carolina for Super Tuesday, where most of his fan-base still approves of the Iraq War by a wide margin (68%). A large portion of Trump’s South Carolina supporters are active and retired military. These are not votes he can afford to cast off.
The reality of the situation is that from Dec 1 to Jan 11, Donald Trump had a 27% favorability rating with Republicans, a -27% favorability rating with Independents, and a -70% favorability rating with Democrats. He has a substantial lead on Texas Senator Ted Cruz for the Republican primary win, but if he keeps isolating his group of loyal supporters, momentum will shift and he won’t even make it through the primaries and to the ticket.
As for what happens to his support if he does make the ticket? In his own words, “forget about it.”
“The fireworks start at 2:13 in this video. Enjoy the show.”