Reading about the Commonwealth Games that were held in Delhi in 2010, I cannot help but remember the great political and bureaucratic nightmare it was. Right up until the games, corruption was entrenched at the highest levels and some political repercussions are still felt to this day in India. Having said that, as Rakshit pointed out, not only did the Commonwealth Games of 2010 pass off without any major incident, it also left behind a more robust, structural and convenient infrastructure for New Delhi. One can only hope for a similar fate for Rio and its citizens.
The Easy Part
Shifting our focus back to politics, it is hard to write other than the US Presidential Elections right now. Switching between news channels, all and any reporting is focused on poll numbers, candidate policies, their past demons, and of course – Donald Trump. Talking to Americans I work with, everybody is wondering about the same question – If everybody disagrees with him, where did he come from? And why do people support him?
For the first part of the question, I refer you to a previous article detailing the silent majority, a voting bloc which doesn’t publicly accept voting for Mr. Trump. It is the latter part of the aforementioned question that we will focus on here.
At the outset, its pretty straightforward as to why people support Mr. Trump. “Make America Great Again” – That’s easy to follow, and easier to understand. Even at the RNC convention, phrases like “Make America Safe Again, Make America Work Again” were being thrown around like grains to birds. Not only are they direct, even a fifth-grader can easily understand what a Presidential Candidate is saying, even though the latter is a considerably more complex job. The most striking way Mr. Trump has connected himself with the American public is his language. A study by the Carnegie Mellon University found that Mr. Trump consistently speaks at a third-grade level of language, never going above the sixth-grade. Ironically, not only does this connect more with voters increasingly tired of boring policy speeches from their political candidates, it entrenches a level of trust in them.
I refer you to this excellent YouTube video – “How Donald Trump Answers A Question”. This video gives great insight on how Mr. Trump is an excellent marketer and understands media better than Mrs. Clinton. For all his other controversial comments, he’s not dumb.
Secondly, it is imperative to understand the voting structure in the US to get to the root cause of the question – Why?
Only registered voters who are affiliated as Republicans/Democrats vote in the primaries. These affiliations can be changed before the Presidential elections, but it is an arduous process which few people follow up on. Based on a 2014 Pew Study, only 23 percent identify as Republicans, of which even a lesser percentage voted. Those Republicans who did vote in the Primaries are predominantly white, small town Americans who’ve grown up as Conservatives. As America becomes more diverse, they found themselves marginalized and Mr. Trump brings in a true alternative to the other candidates who were busy pandering to hispanics or african-americans.
Which brings us to why it is becoming tougher to support Mr. Trump as the national elections trudges towards us.
The Tough Part
Another 2016 Pew Study says that this year will be the most diverse US elections in history, with 1 in 3 eligible voters being black, hispanic, asian or another racial ethnic minority. Moreover, the independents we mentioned above, who don’t have any affiliations with either the Democrats or the Republicans in the primaries (nearly 39 percent of all eligible voters), come to life in the polls as the nation gears to electing the leader of the free world. Also, the people who didn’t vote in their party’s primaries seek to muster support for their candidates. Mr. Trump has managed to alienate the potential decision-making bloc with his xenophobic and racist rhetoric, not to mention the famed wall.
Aside from that, a weird thing is happening with Mr. Trump. The influential GOP donors, previous Republican presidents (W and HW), and former GOP national security advisors have all came out against Mr. Trump. Not only does that hamper fundraising for Mr. Trump’s campaign, it sidelines any voters they might bring.
Finally, with just 2 candidates, the media scrutiny has increased and people are more engaged in political discussions. With about 3,500 lawsuits, more than 5 bankruptcies, and not to mention the scores of xenophobic, racist, controversial and paradoxical comments, Mr. Trump has far more skeletons in his closet than Mrs. Clinton.
A combination of – more diverse voters, lack of support from key GOP donors and increased media scrutiny does not bode well for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump just re-jigged his campaign staff for the second time in 2 months, in lieu of his falling polling numbers. Will this make the going any less tougher? Only time will tell.