Abstract: The title question has been baffling political pundits for months now with good reason, Trump has been a fountain of gaffes, lies, missteps and frauds that would have long sunk any kind of normal campaign and yet his polling has actual risen from theses occurrences. Thus there needs to be a close examination of these events and their causal relationships. The phenomena can be explained as a combination 3 factors of modern political realty: Chaos operations by democrats, bandwagon (with bleed over) effects and society’s Culture of celebrity.
Dissertation: The Trump Phenomena has been one of baffling contradictions and manifestations. Each gaffe, lie, fraud allegation and incident of violence was met with predictions that said events would be the end of the Trump candidacy. And yet each gaffe, lie, fraud allegation and incident of violence only served to energize the phenomena. The result of the news cycle would be seemingly even more acolytes clamoring to support the Trump cult of personality.
Such is the complete opposite what has been the case in the recent past. The record is replete with cases of aspirants stumbling with a minor gaffe or allegation and having to drop out of the contest. Not so with the present Trump Phenomena so the question becomes one of attempting to explain the phenomena to fit within the boundaries of the empirical data points that have become manifest above the background noise of the news cycle.
We must make the proviso that the current discussion is about population groups that at times display decidedly non-lineal beliefs and actions such that there will be individual variations that do not fit within the ascribed theoretical behavior model.
In order to properly analyze the Phenomena we must first stipulate that there are several subsets of those who profess to support Donald J. Trump. This critically important in validating our hypothesis in answering the title question on the Trump Phenomena. It is the actions of each supporter subset and their unique reaction to the phenomena that best explain the situation. And while there may be some overlapping of the subsets each is distinct in their rationale for supporting Trump in the primary process.
Subset 1: Left leaning Trump supporters
The first subset of supporters are primarily left leaning and it is this subset that is of the most interest in our study here. This subset is the primary reason gaffes, lies and allegations of fraud are cause for an increase in support.
Simply put, the worse a candidate Trump became, they more they supported him as the best way for the Democratic party to defeat the Republican party in the general election. Each new revelation or gaffe would show them he would be the easier to be vanquished by their party in the general election and thus they would throw their support behind for the time period of the primary process.
Many have tried to ponder the phenomena and determine the cause for these occurrences, but one only has put in place the precepts of Occam’s razor to fit a theory to the empirical events. In many ways this could easily be a case where the explanation was so obvious that it was simply overlooked.
This part of the theory is easily confirmed by examining a few empirical events. One is the many instances where vast numbers of Democrats have switched to vote for the least general election favored candidate1 2. This is sometimes colloquially referred to a Ditch and Switch. The theory is also confirmed by the fact that closed primaries favor candidates other than the subject while open primaries favor Trump3. Taking these factors into account it should be clearly evident how the Trump Phenomena deifies political gravity.
Subset 2: Right leaning Trump supporters.
This second set of Trump supporters are primarily right leaning as opposed to the first group. This mostly consists of those identifying with ideals of Conservatism or Libertarianism . The ideology of this subset would seem to present a problem for the proposed theory given that they should have the opposite reaction to the gaffes, lies and fraud allegations. And in some cases this is the correct assumption, but to a certain extent this effect is drowned out in the statistical noise of the reactions of the other subset. And in many cases we see the bandwagon hold sway over the rest of this subset when they see the support increase instead of decrease.
In many way this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy in that people have come to expect an increase in support and the addition of left leaning Trump supporters has reinforced this expectation in most cases. We can also attribute the lack of precision in measuring these phenomena given most are over a span of a few days and any negative perturbations are easily lost in the statistical noise. In short, people expect support to increase and when it does we see a positive feedback loop that only reinforces the prophecy for the next news cycle. Thus the bandwagon has a secondary effect in this regard in that people support the Trump Phenomena because he can win. As a result this positive feedback loop only accentuates the feedback still further.
In addition there is the celebrity factor of the of the Trump Phenomena. In the lead up to the primary process a fair amount of support can simply be attributed to celebrity recognition and the desire to be part of the limelight. Thus support could be more correctly attributed to name recognition rather than support of the celebrity candidate’s policy positions. And in many cases there was distinct paucity of these positions to forestall negative reactions.
The Trump Phenomena has distinct advantage with those who are what is colloquially termed as Low information and who haven’t put the time in to studying the issues and learning who is the best candidate. The celebrity culture advantage also plays into the band wagon effects such that those who know little of the issues at least know one of the candidates and is reinforced by every uplift in the polls.
Thus we have seen that with two distinct subsets of groups supporting the Trump Phenomena has skewed the traditional political calculus to the polar opposite inverting the process to it’s detriment. Issues that would have doomed candidates and campaigns of the past only serve to advance the phenomena. Mutually reinforcing factors of Democratic chaos operations coupled with bandwagon and celebrity effects caused the inversion of the standard political calculus of the past, resulting in ongoing consternation of certain political parties.
1. Amid Trump surge, nearly 20,000 Mass. voters quit Democratic party – Boston Herald, February 29, 2016
2. 60,000 Democrats Voted in Virginia Republican Primary – The Gateway Pundit, March 2, 2016
3. Trump doing better in ‘open’ primaries; Cruz sees success in GOP-only contests – Fox News, March 07, 2016