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Why divisive Donald Trump still appeals to voters

What's driving strong support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump? Political director Lisa Desjardins talks with Judy Woodruff about what’s kept anti-establishment Trump at the top of the field.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But, first, Donald Trump said today he is not getting out of the Republican race for president, despite having said this weekend he would bow out if his numbers dropped.

    While some expected him to fade, Trump continues to roll — poll, that is, in the high double digits, followed by Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, two others who have never held elected office.

    Political director Lisa Desjardins looks at what is driving all this.

  • DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate:

    Right now, and you know it…

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Donald Trump is both famous and famously direct.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    We have illegal immigrants that are treated better by far than our veterans.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    But he has been propelled by what may be the least known, least understood group of voters in the 2016 race. Their overall feelings are clear: anger, fear and distrust.

    Steve Carby is a small business man. You see him here defending Donald Trump to protesters. He’s worried about veterans, and he likes Trump’s directness.

  • STEVE CARBY, Trump Event Attendee:

    One of the main reasons that I find him attractive as far as someone who would represent me is because he says what he wants to say, and the other thing is, is that I don’t think he can be bought.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Stay-at-home mom of two Amanda Mancini, she is worried about her kids’ future.

  • AMANDA MANCINI, Trump Event Attendee:

    I’m very concerned about his education. He’s in public school, but only because, you know, we can only afford for one child to go to private school. But I see the stuff that he brings home with the Common Core. It makes no sense.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    These are conservative issues, but, most importantly, these voters are against the establishment, including the Republican establishment.

    Salon and spa owner Elaine Yoachum is angry at the GOP leadership.

  • ELAINE YOACHUM, Trump Event Attendee:

    I have voted for Republicans for the last 20 years, and I’m feeling like I have kind of wasted my time and my vote. When I heard Trump speak, I thought, this is somebody that can be a leader and change the Republican Party.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    This is key to Trump’s strength. In a national FOX News poll out last week, 26 percent of likely Republican voters backed him, eight points ahead of anyone else.

    But look at what else Republican voters felt in that poll. Sixty percent of them said their party has betrayed them.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    They will never make America great again.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Enter Trump’s outsider appeal.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    They’re controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    It’s an appeal not everyone buys.

  • DAVID MCINTOSH, President, Club for Growth:

    He’s not really the outsider we think he is. He’s more like the typical politician, where he is telling us what we want to hear, but reality is he would be very different if he were ever in office.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    David McIntosh heads the conservative advocacy group Club for Growth, which focuses on fiscal policies, low taxes, small government. The Club has attacked current Republican leaders like House Speaker John Boehner, and they see Trump as worse. They’re running this $1 million ad campaign against him.

  • NARRATOR:

    Trump wants us to think he’s Mr. Tell It Like It Is, but he has a record, and it’s very liberal.

  • DAVID MCINTOSH:

    He’s been for frequent tax increases. He’s not for free trade. He supported the single-payer health care system, government-run health care. Those are not conservative, free market policies.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Trump denies that he’s liberal.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stand.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Despite his critics, for the past month, Trump has mostly held an eight- to 10-point lead nationally. Can anything put a dent in that?

    Well, polls do show some potential red flags on personality and ability. In a USA Today survey, the top five words American voters used to describe Donald Trump were all negative, including idiot, arrogant and selfish. The top word for Republican voters was arrogant.

    But countering that, Trump may also be riding an historic wave.

  • BEVERLY GAGE, Professor, Yale University:

    One of the really remarkable things that you’re seeing in the United States right now are genuinely high levels of immigration, at a level we really haven’t seen since the turn of the 20th century.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Beverly Gage, Yale University history professor, says times like these, with nearly 15 percent of the population being foreign-born, spark movements.

  • BEVERLY GAGE:

    You also usually see accompanying these kind of heightened periods of immigration is a kind of backlash politics that argues that immigrants shouldn’t be here in the United States, that they’re taking Americans’ jobs. And depending on, you know, who you’re talking about and at what moment, that takes different shapes.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Trump voters, including Mexican immigrant Zander Saenz, say this is why they are sticking with Trump.

  • ZANDER SAENZ, Trump Event Attendee:

    I believe that Mexico has taken advantage of the United States through immigration. The elites in Mexico, I agree with Donald Trump, that they don’t want the poor in Mexico. They want to bring them over to America.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    We’re going to make our country so great.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    It’s a push for new direction, new leadership, a push also helping Carly Fiorina, who is quickly rising in the polls, and Ben Carson, who is getting within reach of Trump nationally, the three GOP front-runners, who are also the only three candidates who have never held office before.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And Lisa Desjardins joins me now.

    So, Lisa, it is a phenomenon out there with Donald Trump. But where is the race right now with Trump, with Carson, with Fiorina, all three outsiders, as you point out?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    That’s right.

    And you can pick any one poll you like, but if you look at the trend, Judy, over the last month, what has happened is, Trump has basically plateaued. He’s stayed steady. He’s dipped a little bit in Iowa, but, overall, he has stayed about the same.

    Carson and Fiorina are on the rise as a whole, and Fiorina especially, Judy. We have really seen her go from the back of the pack, not just to up close to the front, but third and in some polls even second in the race.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Can you tell if this is because of something Donald Trump is doing or is it something because of Carson and Fiorina?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Well, we know that Trump’s unfavorability rating is relatively high to theirs, that Carson and Fiorina have higher favorability. They’re more well-liked than Trump.

    Now, those who support Trump love him, but there is a large group that doesn’t. And a problem for Trump going down the road, Judy, is that 47 percent of GOP voters say they are willing to consider him. That means more than half who say they’re not even willing to consider Donald Trump. That’s a problem for the future. It’s not a problem that Carson or Fiorina have.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Do we have any way of quantifying how many voters are paying attention at this point, Republican or Democrat?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    To be honest, no, because these polls ask people, are you a likely Republican voter, are you a likely caucus-goer? We’re not asking them — or no one is asking them, how much are you paying attention? How much do you know about these candidates?

    So, to some degree, this might be name recognition, and it might be buzz.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, it is — as we said, it’s a phenomenon.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    That’s right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And we keep on watching it.

    Lisa Desjardins, we thank you.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    My pleasure.

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