How would you evaluate Donald Trump’s chances of becoming GOP’s presidential nominee, eventually the American President? Do you see any presidential path for him, or he will probably stay a very visible and loud candidate, but at the end, still just sort of a fringe candidate? Read few comments.
David McCuan, Professor of Political Science, Sonoma State University
Donald Trump is an interesting case for the GOP and this presidential cycle. Here’s a guy who really is a One Man Band, a Party of One, a candidate who can churn attention and roil the waters of the GOP race, but not someone who is in any real sense “electable.” He has little to no national organization. Few endorsements. Lots of money – a necessary, but not sufficient condition for success in the race, but really limited “resources” on which to draw in voters and contact them, reinforce strategic messages, and to assure that they will vote for him in key states and at key points throughout the campaign.
This is the summer of The Donald’s Delight.
By next summer, it will be The Summer of His Discontent.
The Donald, though, is tapping into key elements of the US political landscape. He’s tapping into the Angry Voter and that is an important element of our politics today. This voter is typically more likely to be white, worried about their individual and collective future, angry at the President and Democrats, and increasingly independent in terms of their politics. The Donald is tapping into segments of the electorate that are boisterous, ticked off about their current situation, worried about where things fit down the road, and looking for scapegoats – wherever those scapegoats may rest.
As a result, this Celebrity Candidate can sell a lot of early sizzle, but he really has little steak to offer. He hasn’t voted very often, if at all. He rants and raves against the world, yet can command much media attention. All of this springs from his over-the-top showmanship and lack of a political conventional style. He also despises the GOP establishment and particularly the Bush family. He has toyed with running before – in 1999; in 2007, 2008; and again in 2012.
This is where he really can do some damage – if he loses on the establishment GOP side, but decides to run as a Third Party Independent. He can’t win going that route either, but he sure can tilt at a lot of windmills in the process.
One other element: With the comments by The Donald against Sen. John McCain as a “captured” veteran, Trump is done. He’s toast. Trump just flamed out in a spectacular ball of flames across the presidential sky.
Steffen Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University
It is unlikely that Trump will get the nomination. BUT he is touching some nerves among voters. Gov Chris Christie has a campaign slogan “Telling it Like it is” Well, Trump’s slogan should be “I’m REALLY Telling it Like it is and No Bullshit!”
These “angry revenge candidates” eventually fade away as caucuses and primary time gets closer. People want someone who can win the nomination and also the election.
But you never know and if Trump decides to take his supporters and run as an independent then Hillary Clinton will win because Trump appeals to Republicans.
Terri Bimes, Lecturer and Assistant Director of Research for the Insitute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Your intuition about Donald Trump is correct. He has no chance of becoming the Republican presidential nominee. He has a small core group of supporters, but insufficient support from the broader Republican base to win the nomination. He is enjoying his time in the media spotlight, but I predict his candidacy will flame out soon.
Richard Benedetto, Adjunct Professor of Journalism, School of Communication, American University
Donald Trump is just a passing fad. Some people like that he speaks his mind, even though he says irresponsible things to gain attention. Americans do not elect show-off presidents. The American race for president is a marathon, not a sprint. Those candidates who are measured and reasonable in their policies and their rhetoric have the best chance of winning. Trump is not one of them.
Rogers Smith, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Associate Dean for Social Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
After yesterday’s comments mocking Vietnam POW John McCain’s military service, Trump’s previously very slim chances of being nominated have become non-existent. He is also no longer a credible third party threat. He will remain loud and visible for as long as he possibly can, and he is a vehicle for protest in the eyes of some Americans; but he is not a remotely serious contender for President.
Heather Cox Richardson, Professor, Boston College
Trump is a fringe candidate who will not receive the Republican presidential nomination. He is in the race now simply to stay relevant, and is making shocking statements to grab headlines. What is most interesting about his candidacy is that his shocking statements– that Mexican immigrants are criminals, for example– are popular among a small but visible part of the American population. They are garnering attention because they reveal incontrovertibly that a generation of Movement Conservative rhetoric has produced a dark reality: that many Americans openly endorse a worldview that is divorced from fact.
Steven Greene, Associate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University
This is actually pretty straightforward. Donald Trump’s chances of becoming the Republican nominee are extremely close to 0. He will probably stay visible and loud– and right now he is clearly representing a segment of the Republican electorate that feel he is making their message heard– but ultimately he has almost no chance to win the Republican nomination. Political Science scholarship has increasingly shown that winning the nomination takes substantial support from party “insiders” (elected politicians, major donors and fundraisers, etc.). Trump has virtually no support from party Insiders. It would be unprecedented for a candidate to win a nomination of one of the two major parties under these circumstances. Sure, he is rich, but the evidence is also clear that it takes a lot more than simply having a lot of money. Any chances he had of building more support from party elites (and even ordinary voters) were most likely lost for good with his extremely ill-considered comments regarding John McCain this weekend.
Candidates like Trump make election-watching fun and even reveal important facts about the nature of the political times, but what they don’t do is win elections.
Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas
Trump has little chance of winning the GOP nomination. He is a sensation right now, and I am sure that many find his blunt rhetoric reassuring. Eventually, though, he will have to come up with specifics, some real-world solutions to real-world problems that require more than tough talk and assurances that he can get things done.
There is an appeal to Trump, to be sure. But one would not think he would be good for the United States either domestically or internationally if he were elected president. One reason why the Framers of the US Constitution designed indirect elections for president was their fear of a demagogue. Trump is a modern day demagogue. He talks big, he appeals to many, but his rhetoric cannot possibly translate into real policy solutions, nor is it diplomatic, something that is necessary and important in the world we live in.
Of course, I could be wrong! What will be telling is where Trump stands after a few debates. Remember that both Rick Perry and Herman Cain (not to mention Michelle Bachmann) were tops in the polls at one point or another. More exposure, and a real test for Trump might bring him way, way down. His comments on John McCain might just be the beginning of many more spoken mistakes.