From the moment Donald Trump entered the presidential race, the news media and pundits predicted his political demise. Each time his poll numbers went up instead of down, they rationalized it in irrational ways. For example, the news was flooded with Trump’s supposed missteps and guffaws. But when his poll numbers went up instead of down, the pundits claimed it’s because he’d gotten so much “free publicity”—never mind that the publicity had been given with the goal of making him look bad.
I’m not a political analyst. This is neither a defense nor criticism of Trump or any candidate. It’s a political outsider’s nonscientific attempt to explain what continues to befuddle so many. The seven counterpoints to conventional wisdom as to why “Trump can’t win…” are built from conversations with regular folks and nothing more. And here’s a bonus prediction based solely on these anecdotes: if Trump stays in the race, he’ll pick up support from Democrats, independents, African-Americans and women that will continue to befuddle his critics.
Trump can’t win because…
1. Trump doesn’t know the names of terror leaders.
Trump’s supporters think that anybody can memorize names of terror leaders and talking points about strategy. They believe those who do know the names have done a disastrous job on terrorism policy. They think it’s more important to have a leader who will stop following advice that keeps proving wrong than to have someone who can recite names.
2. Trump doesn’t have a plan.
Trump’s supporters believe that politicians who do have plans have messed up things pretty badly. They think Trump’s leadership skills make him more likely to accomplish a goal than a politician who has a plan.
3. Trump isn’t conservative enough.
Trump’s supporters don’t care that he doesn’t walk the party line. In fact, even if they don’t agree with all of his positions, they see his range of views as evidence that he won’t robotically bow to the will of a party above the people. His divergent views also appeal to some Democrats and independents.
4. Trump has flip-flopped.
Trump’s supporters, like many Americans, have changed their mind on issues over the years and it doesn’t bother them that Trump has, too. When Trump is criticized for flip-flopping, it only solidifies the idea among his supporters that the news media is stacking the deck against him. For example, the same reporters have not highlighted Hillary Clinton’s and President Obama’s flip-flops on gay marriage (both said through at least 2008 that they opposed it). Nor have they singled out Clinton’s change of heart on illegal immigration (in 2003, she said she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants.”)
5. Trump personally insults people.
Trump’s supporters don’t think his penchant for insult outweighs the skillset he has to accomplish things that matter. Further, they believe Trump is giving as good as he gets whether it’s Democrats and other Republicans calling his supporters crazies, likening Republicans to terrorists, making fun of his hair, claiming he’s never read the Bible “because he’s not in it,” or saying he is a narcissistic clown.
6. Trump is against immigrants.
Trump’s supporters are wise to the propaganda effort that seeks to conflate illegal immigrants with legal immigrants. They know that Trump has spoken out in strong support of legal immigration, but opposes illegal immigration, as they do.
7. Trump won’t apologize.
Trump’s supporters are sick of the apology culture in which the media and pundits dictate appropriate behavior and demand apologies for perceived transgressions. They think a politician’s apology doesn’t change the deed and is rarely sincere; it’s simply a way of saying “I’m sorry I got caught” or “I’m sorry that what I did hurt my poll numbers.” Trump’s supporters believe his defiance of the apology culture demonstrates he will not be subject to the whims of media demands du jour.