The array of media choices the average American has access to is truly awesome. From Twitter to Facebook to Reddit to individual blogs and the print media, Americans are truly spoiled with their array of news options.
Indeed, I can find a wide, diverse array of opinions on any given chance in just a few seconds. I can find right-wing voices from the likes of Jay Cost, Heather Wilhem, Joel Kotkin and more. I can find dissenting, left-wing voices like EJ Dionne, Andrew Rosenthal and Ezra Klein.
But, of late, I have noticed a dangerous group-think start to be developing around Trump. Specifically, that he has not shot to win the White House. This group-think transcends the traditional ideological divide and can be found among both left and right leaning pundits.
From a certain perspective the collective group-think was inevitable. Ask yourself this? Where do many of the biggest voices in the media come from? Now ask where Trump’s strongest support comes from? Yes sir, those are completely different locations.
Trump’s support has comes from places hardest hit by globalization and where policies crafted in DC have had little beneficial impact. The biggest voices in media, by and large, come from distinguished institutions of higher learning, were raised in middle class, well-off households, and hold very cosmopolitan values on issues like political correctness and religious liberty.
Left and right, this paradigm exists and has grown this election. In turn, many average Americans without deep ideological convictions lose out. Instead, they only read articles searching for a pre-ordained solution. No wonder so many Americans do not trust the media.
Take the media’s uproar over Trump’s Trump University judge comments. You would think Trump would have just said the guy should be hung. Republican politicians and donors (mostly from cosmopolitan values backgrounds) have distanced themselves from Trump.
Yet, PPP (D) a Democratic leaning polling firm found that amid Trump’s comments he has hardly been touched. Recent polling finds Trump tied in Pennsylvania and leading in Florida (has a big Hispanic population). Yet, if you only followed the media you would think Trump just doomed his candidacy.
PPP’s President tried to explain away the findings by saying that once Democrats unify Trump is doomed. Excluded from the analysis, is that Trump is pulling better numbers from North Florida (full of rural, Trump values whites) and Southwestern Pennsylvanians than Romney did in 2012. It also is an open question whether Hillary can unify her party. For the crosstabs show both candidates have about equal room to grow among conservatives and liberals. For goodness sakes, Trump is winning 12 percent of the black vote in Florida (not seen since Bush). Somehow this gets overlooked in PPP’s survey memo.
Beyond where many media elites come from we are left with an inescapable conclusion. As great as the Internet has/is it is not a very representative sample of America. As a result, it is doubtful many in the media know know many Trump supporters (note: the author knows many supporters and opponents of Trump and was kicked off a blog for even hinting that supporting Trump). Never Trumpers on both the left and right probably know very few Trump supporters and when they meet them they react with revulsion and shock.
Except, many of these individuals ignore the primary strategy Trump has exploited the entire campaign. More so than any other candidate since Reagan, Trump has used the cultural divide in America fuel his campaign. His lack of ideology and consistency to some is a plus to many more. While politicians and the media react only along ideological lines, voters left behind react on more than that.
Beyond PPP’s recent surveys the national RCP average bears this out. Clinton is barely ahead of Trump. You would think if she is such a strong front-runner or a great candidate (sorry Ezra Klein, she’s not) she would be much further ahead. It should be noted national polls were badly off the mark in 2012 compared to their state focused peers. The same thing could be playing out this year.
But just as Trump is viewed skeptically by many with cosmopolitan values, Hillary is viewed just as badly among Middle America voters. Having almost 65 percent of voters view you as dishonest does not a winning strategy make (to quote a phrase).
Trump may or may not win this election. But those in the media should stop treating this election like its a foregone conclusion. Because it is most assuredly not!