On Sept. 28, William G. Mayer PhD, political science professor at Northeastern University, came to the College to give a lecture on arguably the most interesting storyline of the 2016 election: Donald Trump, is running for president and is currently leading in the polls. Mayer, who has been called the nation’s leading authority on presidential nomination, stated that he was not surprised Trump entered the race, but was initially surprised when Trump became the front runner. During his hour-long lecture, Mayer attempted to explain the question that I, along with many others, have been asking throughout the campaign season so far: why is this happening?
Mayer argued that Trump appeals to Republicans due to his status as a “non-politician”. Trump is not what is called a “career politician”, like some of his peers in the GOP pool, he has never actually held a public office which has been beneficial to his campaign. Mayer explained studies show that among Republican voters, there is a large public distrust of government. Therefore, it is possible for someone who has never previously worked in government to seem trustworthy. Our current polls reflect this, as the top 3 GOP candidates, Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, have all not held public office.
Mayer pointed out that Trump appeals to the “man on horseback” factor. Meaning Americans are attracted to the idea of someone just getting something done, because it often feels like nothing is getting done in Washington. Trump makes the “right” promises for his demographic and he makes them loudly. As a result, many believe that he will follow through on them if elected, such as the border he intends to build between America and Mexico, and have the Mexican government pay for.
Mayer continued, another reason Trump seems to be succeeding is the credibility of “the establishment” is declining. When Meyer used the word “establishment”, he clarified that he was talking about the media and the GOP leadership. When the media releases anything about Trump, it tends to get ignored by his supporters due to their distrust of the media. Many of Trump’s followers also no longer trust the GOP leadership, as a result of this, when a member of the GOP says anything against Trump, they are not taken seriously.
Mayer’s final point was that to there does not seem to be an alternative candidate. After the 2012 election, no “heir apparent” emerged from the GOP ranks. There was not a person who arose from the 2012 election that the GOP looked to for possible hope. For example, Hillary Clinton is the “heir apparent” of the Democratic party. No such candidate existed for the GOP, and this is possibly the reason we have had so many enter the race.
After the lecture was over, Mayer did a brief question and answer session. During this time, he he stated being the front-runner in the September before the election year is not a big deal and did go on to make a few predictions about the upcoming election. Mayer does not think that Trump will win the Republican candidacy, because there are too many Republicans that do not like him, or think he is unelectable. He also speculated that Trump will not to any long-term damage to the Republican party, as many others believe.
Trump continues to lose points in the polls, but only time will tell if Meyer’s predictions come true.