Why is Trump so popular?

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For the better part of the month, Donald Trump has taken every headline by storm and has broken all conventional wisdom as it pertains to campaigning and politics in America. 

The phenom that is Trump is one that is unique and shouldn’t be cast as a mere spectacle of the billionaire real estate tycoon turned presidential candidate. While it’s easy to attribute Trump’s rise in the polls to his celebrity or his appeal to the most conservative camps within the Republican Party, he may actually be able to convince more voters that he is a serious and legitimate candidate. 

{mosads}As Salena Zito pointed out in her piece “Reflecting Populism Born of Frustration,” people are angry and are looking for a leader. However, what Zito fails to point out is that Trump is more than a “reflection of the unrest,” he is the antithesis of the establishment and despite being of the 1 percent he isn’t beholden to lobbyist and special interest groups that typically donate in large sums to presidential candidates. Voters recognize this and thus associate Trump as both a candidate who cannot be bought and one who doesn’t have to play politics as usual.  

Trump is cognizant of this association by voters and is using it to his advantage. Prime examples would be his recurring attacks on the other GOP candidates, particularly Jeb Bush, and Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton as beholden to special interest and wealthy donors.  

What’s most unique about Trump is his understanding of marketing and the manner in which he markets himself. Despite making remarks that would’ve ended the campaigns of any one of his fellow GOP contenders, Trump has been able to secure support among Republican primary voters and maintain his lead in the polls. It gives credence to his understanding of both the political climate and voter dissatisfaction. 

He’s capitalizing on the anger of voters, turning the complexities of politics into common themes. Voters are perhaps willing to suspend their criticisms and concerns of some of his antics, because they’re more concerned with having real representation.  

Last year in the fall 2014 edition of Perspective on Politics,Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University wrote “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.”  In their analysts they found that the influence of ordinary registered American voters was “minuscule, near zero, and non-significant.” So it’s understandable why Trump is doing so well in the polls and will likely continue to do so, particularly if he continues to become more detailed oriented on policy issues.
For many voters, Trump makes them wonder: what if? What if their voices were heard, what if how they felt actually mattered, and what if they had a leader who wasn’t catering to the wealthiest in society.

Singleton is Republican political consultant. He’s worked on the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Follow him on twitter @Shermichael_

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