Presidential front-runner Donald Trump is defying the traditions of Republican Party politics in 2016, rallying a new demographic of supporters in a way the GOP hasn’t seen in perhaps its entire history.
Since the 1980’s, white working-class voters have been migrating from the Democratic Party to the GOP. Barack Obama’s election to the White House in 2008 may have sealed that shift in favor of the Republicans, but now first-time voters of the same ilk are starting to actively support the fresh-faced Trump.
According to the Washington Post, the average Trump supporter is blue-collar, has no college degree, and is a few years younger than the typical Republican voter.
Neither is the mechanics of Mr. Trump’s campaign strategy in line with Republican tradition: instead of buying voter databases to target particular blocks of voters, campaign workers have gathered information from people attending the candidate’s rallies.
While the strategy may suit Trump’s campaign-style, it’s definitely a risk, especially in Caucus states such as Iowa.
Both in 2012 and 2008, approximately 20 percent of GOP voters participated in the Iowa Republican Caucus. Those who did participate tended to be older and more educated, a group that seems to be trending towards Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Trump phenomenon this election-cycle seems to be a response to then Sen. Obama’s 2008 campaign, which rallied young, idealistic Americans through a series highly-energized speeches that spoke to a more hopeful side of the human spirit.
Obama’s run for the White House eight years ago also engaged new voters – albeit a younger and more diverse demographic than Trump has captured the imagination of in 2015/’16.
So, what does President Obama and his former campaign staff think of Donald Trump’s 2016 run?
According to one insider, Obama frames it as “more of a reaction to their strategy that, ‘We’re just going to be antithetical to everything he stands for.'”
In other words, Obama and his staffers/advisers see Trump as an embodiment of the anger and defiance of the Tea Party movement which helped sweep Congressional Republicans into office in 2010.
The GOP is getting what they deserve.
To counter the hate of this newer wing of the Republican Party, Obama is planning a series of speeches in 2016 to remind the world “of America’s openness to people of different faiths and (its) inclusiveness”, according to deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
Sublime rhetoric on the president’s part may be the correct angle to approach 2016’s political landscape. Combined with Hillary Clinton’s more practical appeal, the duo should be favored to keep the White House in Democratic hands for another four years – not to mention the most popular Democrat of them all, set to be unleashed on the public in January.
[Washington Post] [Politico] [Photo courtesy Maring Photography/Getty Images]