The Trump Pattern: Controversial Comments Will Do Nothing to Hurt Poll Numbers

donald trump

On Monday, Donald Trump proposed blocking all Muslims from entering the U.S. for an indefinite period of time. This proposal was almost universally criticized or condemned by every imaginable figure spanning the entire U.S. political spectrum from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton to Paul Ryan to Dick Cheney. The White House said Trump’s statement “disqualifies” him from being President. Representatives from all over the world also weighed in to chastise the leading Republican Presidential candidate for what many view as dangerous and provocative rhetoric. Despite the nearly total negative global backlash, "Teflon Don" knows exactly what he is doing. And it’s going to work for him politically. I predict Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims will only help him is his bid to gain the GOP nomination. The causal relationship between Trump's habitually incendiary comments and his standing in the polls has become clear at this point, and there is no reason to believe Monday’s announcement will do anything but solidify (if not boost) Trump's strong poll numbers. Trump’s Muslim blockade is the just the sort of rhetorical bomb that has become the signature for his campaign up to this point. And based on the what we've seen thus far, it matters not one iota to his supporters if any of what he says is practical or constitutional. In the wake of terror attacks in Paris and California and President Obama’s comparatively restrained address this past Sunday, Trump’s radical Muslim immigration ban proposal demonstrates he knows exactly what it takes keep dominating news cycles and rallying his base of supporters. The “Trump Pattern” seems quite calculated, and is predictable at this point to anyone who has been paying attention to his campaign over the last several months…
  1. Say something bold and controversial that is certain to incite strong, primal emotions among Americans.
  2. Double down immediately in the face of early criticism to signal strength and confidence. Never apologize. Never.
  3. Call into MSNBC’s Morning Joe the next day.
  4. Rip your critics for being soft and politically correct.
  5. Rip the media for being liberal and biased.
  6. Rip the current government leaders for being stupid and incompetent.
  7. Sprinkle in some facts* and allude to unnamed experts you consulted with recently (e.g. “great lawyers”, “generals”) who agree with your views. (*Don’t worry about being accurate. No one will pay attention to the accuracy of these "facts.")
  8. When pressed for practical policy details, speak loudly and in the third person, using vague notions about how "America doesn't win anymore" and how you will “make America great again.” (e.g. “Nobody will be better for women’s rights than Donald Trump!” or “No one will be tougher on ISIS than Trump!”)
  9. Reap ungodly amounts of free publicity for 24-72 hours.
  10. Tweet poll results. Say “Wow” and “Great” a lot.
  11. Repeat once media coverage has diminished and/or another Republican is doing well in the polls.
It’s seems so obvious and transparent. But it’s working. Trump is playing his game. Over and over. And winning. And he might keep this little game going all the way to a GOP nomination.   Image courtesy of: Ninian Reed   
The personal views expressed in this post are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minnesota Connected or its sponsors. 

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