Trump appeal not Reaganesque — more like Wrestlemania

  • Compared to Reagan — electability of Trump not born out by polling
  • We “knew” Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan
  • Nothing in Trump’s background represents salvation for the country

An element of Donald Trump’s Republican support tries to maintain that his popularity is a result of a general Reaganesque appeal across party lines.  The thought is fanciful because Reagan did not lose appeal with the conservative base as a result of any cross party or no-party appeal.  Any comparison is further strained as compared to Trump’s projected personna because Reagan was a gifted speaker at all times who understood and could articulate serious policy. His words were appealing to the masses while never demagogic.

Trump’s bombast is not the equivalent unless the ringside “oration” of professional wrestlers is the equivalent of statesmanship. Keep in mind that Reagan had great cross gender appeal.  Trump, not so much. Reagan had proven general election appeal in the largest state,  California.  Consider that today Texas is the second largest state in the Union, behind California, and it has a greater percentage of minority population than New York, and is metropolitan enough to have two of the top ten largest cities in the nation. So the closest comparison to Reagan that is still in the race is the someone who has won in the state of Texas. Ted Cruz has general election appeal there based on his authenticity and articulation of his conservative convictions, like Reagan.  (more below break)

This article from Guy Benson writing at Townhall relates to current polling data and makes a clear case that Trump is the riskier candidate compared to Cruz. While we recommend Benson’s commentary and charts be studied in its entirety, here are some excerpts.

No, Trump’s Polling Position Isn’t ‘Better Right Now’ Than Reagan’s Was in 1980

American voters have been subjected to endlessTrump coverage since last spring, over which time his approach to politics has been made abundantly clear. They don’t like what they’ve seen. His unfavorability rating has soared, especially among women. And we’re supposed to believe he’ll rectify this problem by…relentlessly attacking his female opponent, inevitably deploying personal insults along the way? By the way, if you think he’ll be able to resist this sort of petty nastiness in the general election setting, you haven’t been paying attention. His barrage of criticism against Hillary might put a dent in her (weak) favorability numbers, but he desperately needs to resurrect his catastrophically bad public image. Being an impulsive attack dog, his default setting, isn’t likely to get him there.

The next rationalization we often hear is that it’s silly to worry about bad polling at this stage of the race. It’s way too early. Just look at 1980! Jimmy Carter was crushing Reagan in the spring, yet all we know how that election turned out. Trump himself loves this argument, which he advanced at a rally in New York this week. Politifact, a left-leaning fact-checking outfit dove into the data and found that — surprise — Trump is wrong on this point. They point to a summary of nine available public polling taken in March and April of 1980. Carter led Regan in seven of the surveys, with Reagan ahead by nine points in one, plus a tie. On average, Carter held a five-point lead at this juncture of the contest, and his lead was shrinking. In mid-April of 2016, Hillary Clinton’s advantage is growing. She has topped Trump in 15 consecutive polls, and her average lead is approximately double what Carter’s was over a parallel stretch:  (snip)

This is a more important indicator than the head-to-head scores, which are easier to dismiss (though less so as time wears on, particularly given the universal name recognition Trump and Clinton enjoy). Reagan was never, ever even remotely as disliked as Trump is now.

We are pointing to Benson’s article not to maintain that Hillary or Cruz have stupendous individual favorable/unfavorable ratios, only that the Trump supporters projections are from talking to themselves, and are not born from reality. Further, Trump’s comparatives to Hillary are getting worse and Cruz does much better against Hillary than Trump.  If one seriously looks at policy on matters supposedly driving people to Trump, Cruz is stronger on immigration and trade while being bounded by the Constitution.  Do Trump people care about that?

Maybe Trump people just like the theatrics. But it is crucial to keep in mind that Trump has risen as a result of mainstream media coverage that has not been in attack mode against him. They will be after the rope-a-dope strategy is complete.

R Mall (article revised and expanded from original posting)

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