“There is something happening here and what it is ain’t exactly clear.” Buffalo Springfield’s lyrics certainly apply to the presidential race today. Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders are defying politics as usual. New polls were released today. Despite the efforts of the GOP establishment to put a stake in the heart of his campaign, Donald Trump remains the front runner. Pundits had declared him finished after last Thursday’s debate.
A Rasmussen poll, released today, shows Trump in the lead nationally with 17 percent, seven points ahead of Bush and Rubio, and 8 percent ahead of Walker. A new Suffolk poll today shows Trump ahead in Iowa with 17 percent, five points ahead of former front runner Scott Walker and seven percent ahead of Rubio. Furthermore, a fresh Franklin Pearce University/Boston Herald poll in New Hampshire shows Trump in the lead with 18 percent. Bush came second at 13 percent, while Ohio Governor John Kasich surged to 12 percent.
Senator Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, continues to draw record crowds in city after city although FOX News and the main stream media have not noticed. Over the weekend, Sanders drew 15,000 in Seattle, 28,000 in Portland, and 27,500 in Los Angeles. When Sanders announced, all the over-paid pundits predicted his campaign would go nowhere. He is, after all a Democratic Socialist, running as a Democrat, from one of the smallest states in the nation with no money.
What is happening here? Why are the pundits so wrong? The answer is that there are a large number of Americans who are fed up. They are fed up with politics as usual. They are fed up with politicians and political bickering. They are fed up with moneyed interests buying politicians and dictating how they govern. Most pundits misjudged this undercurrent of anger. Most pundits and political commentators sit in Washington or New York and talk to each other. They are, in many ways, living in an echo chamber.
If someone is out among the American people, this anger is very apparent. Trump’s comments, although inappropriate, echo the emotions Americans feel even if they do not represent their views. They see Trump as someone like them and someone who won’t take crap off anyone—not even FOX News. Others identify with Bernie Sanders who says that billionaires own the country and operate it for their own personal benefit, not for the people.
The Republican Party establishment does not know what to do with Donald Trump. They tried ignoring him. He gained momentum. They tried attacking him. He fought back and climbed in the polls. FOX News tried to put a hatchet in his skull during the debate, and Trump emerged as the winner of the debate, and climbed in the polls. All the know-it-alls acclaimed that when Trump took on Megyn Kelly, it was a bridge too far. It wasn’t.
Conservatives have felt since Reagan’s last election, that the GOP has chosen moderate candidates who do not reflect their views and positions. They blame the losses of Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney on the fact that conservatives stayed home. Even though several conservative candidates are running in the GOP primary this time, Trump has caught on because he is unfiltered, unrestrained, and will not be pushed around. They don’t care if pundits say he is the least electable, he is the one they identify with. They would rather feel good about voting for Trump than voting for a more “electable” candidate.
Progressives in the Democratic Party supported Obama and are disappointed because they are not happy that he did not accomplish everything they expected. Although the obstruction of Congress is largely responsible, progressive Democrats want someone who says what they think and promises to do what they want to see done. Bernie Sanders answers their prayers. And, despite all the pundits who say he is not electable, he is proving them wrong.
Trump and Sanders are actually responding to the same anger in Americans. They are drawing support from the same angry, anti-billionaire, anti-politics feeling in the nation. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Dr. Carson are trying to address this same demographic, but Trump is drowning them out. He is also drowning out Hillary Clinton. Sanders, however, keeps packing the people in to his events even if the media has not noticed. People vote, however, TV sets don’t.
Something is definitely happening here, but what it is it is quite clear.