Trump Cards II: Significance of the Donald's Rise, His Audacious Two-Layered Campaign, and His Achilles Heels

14 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2016 Last revised: 8 Mar 2016

See all articles by Frank T. Manheim

Frank T. Manheim

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Date Written: February 9, 2016

Abstract

Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 is without precedent in U.S. political history. Beginning with announcement of his candidacy in June 2015 the billionaire businessman’s generic attacks on the veniality and incompetence of politicians and federal leaders, and assertions about building a wall on the Mexican border filled the news media. By July his poll ratings moved ahead of a large and well-credentialed field of candidates. In November a series of events and statements about Muslims and Syrian refugees aroused outrage among newspaper editors and influential political columnists. But the continued rise of Trump’s poll ratings confounded earlier predictions that his campaign would falter. His support among Republican voters was confirmed by an overwhelming victory in the New Hampshire primary in early February 2016.

Analysis of Trump’s books, political history, and campaign detail leads to several conclusions. 1) Trump drew on principles described in his earlier books and TV experience to develop strategies to counter the image of his earlier support for Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton. 2) He projected extreme positions as a deliberate tactic to gain media coverage while conveying a tough conservative image. 3) I agree with New York Magazine writer Frank Rich that Trump “made a monkey of pundits and pollsters”. His campaign also unmasked the superficiality and conflicting behavior of leading news media whose editors and writers disparaged or condemned Trump while articles on him filled their pages, helping implement strategies that took him to the top. 4) His lack of ideological persuasions has helped him identify and speak bluntly about issues normally glossed over.

If Trump becomes the Republican nominee questions include whether he has strategies to offset the negative image created by his rude behavior in the primary campaign, and, if successful, whether his ego would allow him to effectively employ his skills and energy to solve the nation’s problems.

Keywords: Donald Trump, Republican primary campaign, political dysfunction, voter dissatisfaction, Achilles heel, media superficiality

Suggested Citation

Manheim, Frank T., Trump Cards II: Significance of the Donald's Rise, His Audacious Two-Layered Campaign, and His Achilles Heels (February 9, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2729989 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2729989

Frank T. Manheim (Contact Author)

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University ( email )

Founders Hall
3351 Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
7036310166 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://policy.gmu.edu/manheim

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