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Posted by on Dec 29, 2015 in 2016 Presidential Election, At TMV | 12 comments

Whither the Rage Trump is Stoking?

imageUnfortunately, the Financial Times is behind a paywall and I don’t have access, but this snippet below provided by Politico is interesting.

Republican pollster, and political consultant Frank Lutz writes that Trump voters “want revenge.”

Trump’s bile is a healing balm for spurned Americans”: “The phenomenon of ‘The Donald’ is rooted in a psyche far deeper and more consequential than next November’s presidential election. … These individuals do not like being told by Washington or Wall Street what is best for them, … and disdain President Barack Obama and his (perceived) circle of self-righteous, tone-deaf governing partisans. Trump voters are not just angry — they want revenge.”

Holding aside whether they are justified in feeling that way or in believing that any Republican candidate could be their salvation, it seems fairly obvious that the anger is real.

One takeaway might be that these voters are engaging in the political process in order to express themselves and not primarily to elect a president. That Trump supporters might ever come to their senses to support a more electable nominee seems, therefore, unlikely.

Another thought is that Trump, fully aware of the motivation of his supporters, is constantly signalling the GOP establishment that if he, The Donald, is treated unfairly, he has the ability to direct the rage felt by so many of his supporters. This could have implications not only in the presidential race but also in down-ballot contests, particularly if people choose to stay home.

Directing public anger is a very dicey thing, but so far Trump has proven very good at it. Consider the name calling and the gutter politics that has characterized so much if his run to date. His appeal to baser instincts is truly breathtaking.

Still, public anger is a difficult beast to ride and things can go badly in a hurry. Assuming Trump does not win the nomination, will there ever be a time when he embraces the eventual nominee and his supporters choose to be okay with that? Perhaps that could work with Sen. Cruz, but for Sen. Rubio or Gov. Christie? Maybe not.

Luntz is probably right. There is a lot of anger out there and it could have outsized consequences in November and beyond. Does the rage dissipate, or are we seeing the start of a political movement that will make the Tea Party movement look like, well, a tea party?

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