Donald Trump has metastasized the body politic's lingering infection of racism and bigotry into a force that's giving him the GOP nomination...and possibly the country.
Mr. Trump’s support among those who say they support a temporary ban on Muslim entry into the United States — a notion Mr. Trump first advanced in early December — is significant. He won more than twice as many supporters of the ban in South Carolina as any other candidate. Voters often echo the things candidates say on the campaign trail, so that level may not be revelatory.
Possibly more surprising are the attitudes of Mr. Trump’s supporters on things that he has not talked very much about on the campaign trail. He has said nothing about a ban on gays in the United States, the outcome of the Civil War or white supremacy. Yet on all of these topics, Mr. Trump’s supporters appear to stand out from the rest of Republican primary voters.
Data from Public Policy Polling show that a third of Mr. Trump’s backers in South Carolina support barring gays and lesbians from entering the country. This is nearly twice the support for this idea (17 percent) among Ted Cruz’s and Marco Rubio’s voters and nearly five times the support of John Kasich’s and Ben Carson’s supporters (7 percent).
Similarly, YouGov data reveal that a third of Mr. Trump’s (and Mr. Cruz’s) backers believe that Japanese internment during World War II was a good idea, while roughly 10 percent of Mr. Rubio’s and Mr. Kasich’s supporters do. Mr. Trump’s coalition is also more likely to disagree with the desegregation of the military (which was ordered in 1948 by Harry Truman) than other candidates’ supporters are.
The P.P.P. poll asked voters if they thought whites were a superior race. Most Republican primary voters in South Carolina — 78 percent — disagreed with this idea (10 percent agreed and 11 percent weren’t sure). But among Mr. Trump’s supporters, only 69 percent disagreed. Mr. Carson’s voters were the most opposed to the notion (99 percent), followed by Mr. Kasich and Mr. Cruz’s supporters at 92 and 89 percent. Mr. Rubio’s backers were close to the average level of disagreement (76 percent).
According to P.P.P., 70 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters in South Carolina wish the Confederate battle flag were still flying on their statehouse grounds. (It was removed last summer less than a month after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.) The polling firm says that 38 percent of them wish the South had won the Civil War. Only a quarter of Mr. Rubio’s supporters share that wish, and even fewer of Mr. Kasich’s and Mr. Carson’s do.
Nationally, the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with the freeing of slaves in Southern states after the Civil War. Only 5 percent of Mr. Rubio’s voters share this view.
Mr. Trump’s popularity with white, working-class voters who are more likely than other Republicans to believe that whites are a supreme race and who long for the Confederacy may make him unpopular among leaders in his party. But it’s worth noting that he isn’t persuading voters to hold these beliefs. The beliefs were there — and have been for some time.
Mr. Trump has reinvigorated explicit appeals to ethnocentrism, and some voters are responding.
After eight years of a media that has relentless demonized the nation's first black president as everything from a traitor to the actual Antichrist, the racist backlash of Trump was absolutely inevitable. It's now on full grisly display for all to see, and there's nothing that the Republican party can do at this point to stop him. The big money learned their lesson after foisting Romney on the party four years ago and would rather have Trump than any Democrat. There will be no help from the Koch or Rove machines to stop The Donald.
As Donald Trump picks up momentum, the chances of a well-funded assault to block him from the Republican presidential nomination are dramatically dwindling, according to interviews with about a dozen donors and operatives who are appalled by the billionaire real estate showman's campaign.
The party’s elite donor class has mostly closed its checkbooks to groups dedicated to stopping Trump, while the outfits that have built massive reserves are increasingly deciding to forgo anti-Trump campaigns, despite widespread fears that he is making a mockery of conservatism and could undermine Republicans up and down the ballot.
The deepest-pocketed operation on the right, the network helmed by the billionaires Charles and David Koch, had seriously debated launching an aggressive assault on Trump, but sources familiar with the network's planning tell POLITICO that’s now highly unlikely. And the Karl Rove-conceived Crossroads outfits also are sitting out the party’s bitter primary, instead spending their cash attacking Democrats.
Republican operatives have told major donors it would require an eight-figure advertising campaign or campaigns to make any kind of dent in Trump’s surprisingly durable popularity. While many of the donors have privately voiced support for the cause, most have begged off writing big checks.
Nevada had Trump at 46%, and after a slate of Super Tuesday wins next week, including in Ted Cruz's home state of Texas, and Marco Rubio's Florida on March 15th, the game will all be over.
The rough beast is slouching its way to Cleveland, folks...its hour come 'round at last.