Does Trump have a chance at becoming the Republican nominee, and possibly the President?
16% - Trump could be the nominee, is electable, and would be a good President.
12% - I wish Trump would be the GOP nominee, but don’t think he will.
51% - Trump is a flash in the pan and will flare out before the primary is over.
20% - President Trump? God help us!
As you may know, I often make predictions. For more than a dozen years of doing so my record is a little better than 75% accuracy. Not because I’m so smart, but because my gray hair is not premature. I pay attention to what’s going on and imagine implications.
I predicted the Great Recession would begin in 2007, the GM bankruptcy, and before Newt Gingrich had announced, that he would be leading in the polls at the end of 2011. Alas, I also predicted that Iraq would become a sovereign state and U.S. ally, and that Romney would beat Obama. As a midyear update, this year I predicted neither Clinton nor Bush would be leading their respective polls at the end of 2015 and so far, those prognostications are looking pretty good.
But I did not see the Donald Trump candidacy coming, let alone his current appeal and momentum.
When I heard Trump deliver his announcement speech, I did predict at that time that his message, “Let’s make America great again,” would resonate well. Based on our recent poll (see results below), more than a quarter of our respondents like him. The political pollsters show Trump in the 20+% range in the polls, but as other candidates drop out, can he pick up their supporters? More than 70% of our sample would probably no.
Trump has something in common with both of the Democrat frontrunners. He’s like the thorn in Hillary’s side, Bernie Sanders, the self-avowed socialist, because they’re both authentic. Look for authenticity to be valuable political currency in 2016. But sometimes Trump’s authenticity results in, as my father used to warn me, letting his mouth overload his backside. Right now he’s spending authenticity to buy forgiveness. But unlike his billions of real capital, Trump won’t have as much redemption capital to spend. He doesn’t have to become politically correct to be nominated, but he will have to become more politically disciplined.
Trump is like Hillary in that they both have baggage. Lots and lots of baggage. While Hillary’s baggage includes potential legal weight, Trump doesn’t seem to have that. But he has led a colorful multi-media life on his way to becoming the personification of a rich self-promoter. A successful nomination will require Trump to overcome certain inelegant segments of his life, and he’ll have to divest from his empire. No small feat either. There might be a reason Ziegfeld and Barnum never ran for president.
At this moment I don’t feel froggy enough to jump to a conclusion as to whether Trump can become the Republican nominee. But I am prepared to say that Donald Trump will have a significant impact on who the Republican nominee is. And I’ll tell you who that will be, January 1, 2016.