Donald Comes up Trumps
20 August 2015, Blog
Silly season 2015 seems to have been the reserve of the political maverick. Jeremy Corbyn has made the running in the UK, but he’s not alone with his unorthodox politics grabbing the headlines.
Despite making a series of controversial comments in a TV show debate, amongst sexist remarks about presenter Megan Kelly, Donald Trump remains in poll position for the presidential campaigns. Far from isolating the electorate, this strategy has given credence to the self-proclaimed ‘ratings machine.’
The ‘Trump effect’ illustrates a development which has been brewing since the emergence of the Tea Party. As an ultra-Conservative caucus, the Tea Party is reforming the political discourse and rebranding the Conservative identity through the creation of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality that ostracises minorities.
The subsequent tribalism has unearthed deep-rooted cultural tensions, and serves as an opportunity for traditional America to reassert its dominance in the face of advancing civil rights, such as same-sex marriage. Trump has played this card to his advantage, defending his comments against criticisms from Kelly and other media heavyweights including Rupert Murdoch.
These divisions are exacerbated by the polarisation of American party politics, which is alienating the predominantly right of centre electorate, and skewing party identities. This leaves voters feeling underrepresented, and more susceptible to influence from campaigns. With a first past the post electoral system, this could have unintended consequences for the status quo in the upcoming elections.
Given the steroid injection political donations have received since the 2012 Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court loosened the legislative belt constraining campaign spending, greater emphasis on campaigning is likely to benefit the likes of the self-made businessman who boasts a net-worth of €4billion.
As such, Trump has succeeded in transforming what might have become a PR disaster in other Western democracies, into a media frenzy which may seem to have bite, but according to the polls it appears that Trump is unscathed:
Over the coming months, the theory that ‘there is no such thing as bad PR’ will be put to the test, as Donald Trump discovers whether or not media scandals are a sustainable PR strategy.
By Lowri Pritchard, Researcher at JBP