Its hard to take Donald Trump seriously as a presidential candidate, but after 91 consecutive days of leading the GOP national field, it may be time for political observers to admit the unthinkable. Maybe Donald Trump isn’t going away, and perhaps he could end up becoming the 2016 Republican nominee for president.
On Monday, Judd Legum, a writer at Think Progress observed that political pundits have been announcing the “beginning of the end” for Donald Trump since July. But the end, it seems, never comes. Trump has remained perched atop the national polls for 91 consecutive days according to the Real Clear Politics aggregate polling averages. On top of that, he has lead in 32 of the last 33 national polls conducted.
While Trump’s lead is not as robust as it was in August and early September, he has nevertheless managed to stay ahead of the rest of the GOP field, with only retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, another political outsider, coming within striking distance of Trump.
The Beltway press has been dismissive of Trump’s staying power, but they may be underestimating the extent to which anti-government voters in the Republican Party are serious about nominating a person with no political experience. When one considers that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are the two most popular GOP candidates, and that Carly Fiorina is also polling well, it should be readily apparent that Republican voters are serious about treating political experience as a fatal flaw.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in late September found that nearly 2/3rds of Republican voters felt that “new ideas and a different approach” were more important qualities in a candidate than “experience and a proven record”. This disdain for political experience defines the current GOP electorate, and it also explains Trump’s enduring popularity.
While the Republican establishment may be uncomfortable with Donald Trump’s popularity, the Trump phenomenon is a logical outgrowth of their anti-government crusade. The Republican Party has spent the past decade telling GOP voters not to trust the government. Having sowed that discontent, they are now reaping the fruit of their efforts. Trump is still atop the Republican polls, and the party has only itself to blame for his continuing political resiliency.