Will NYT's David Brooks Now Explain Trump's Collapse?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

I'd certainly be interested in getting New York Times columnist David Brooks' take of the almost-overnight political collapse of Donald Trump, who has flirted with the idea of running for president as a Republican this year.

You'll recall that last month month Brooks penned a rather odd paean to Trump, extolling his many virtues (an "enthusiastic adventurer") and congratulating him for representing the "Gospel of Success."

Explaining Trump's political rise, Brooks wrote [emphasis added]:

Many people regard Trump as a joke and his popularity a disgrace. But he is actually riding a deep public fantasy: The hunger for the ultimate blowhard who can lead us through dark times.

Brooks added:

There has always been a large clump of voters who believe that America could reverse its decline if only a straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard would take control.

As I pointed out at the time, Brook's observations made no sense simply because there's no precedent in American politics to suggest voters, when choosing a national candidate, crave an "obnoxious" "blowhard" who flaunts his wealth. In fact, decades of polling and election results tell us that's pretty much what voters don't want

But Brooks saw it differently.

Mostly giving Trump's odious birther nonsense a pass in his column (the topic wasn't mentioned until the penultimate paragraph), Brooks did his best to explain Trump's apparent appeal. Answer: He's rich and he's got a big mouth! (He also connects with "lower-middle-class strivers.")

Fast forward four weeks and Trump's GOP polling numbers have cratered.

From Public Policy Polling [emphasis added]:

Donald Trump has had one of the quickest rises and falls in the history of Presidential politics. Last month we found him leading the Republican field with 26%. In the space of just four weeks he's dropped all the way down to 8%, putting him in a tie for fifth place with Ron Paul.

So what gives? Voters really, really don't like Trump:

As Trump got more and more exposure over the last month Republicans didn't just decide they weren't interested in having him as their nominee- they also decided they flat don't like him. Only 34% of GOP voters now have a favorable opinion of Trump to 53% who view him in a negative light.

Gallup confirmed the findings:

Businessman and television personality Trump, recipient of much publicity over the last several weeks, has the unenviable distinction of receiving a Positive Intensity Score of 0, the lowest for any of the 13 candidates measured.

The polling analysis notes that by embracing the birther cause, only to be humiliated by the White House when it released Obama's long-form version, the Trump boomlet burst.

But that still doesn't explain Brooks' April take on how Trump's loud mouth style was so clearly connecting with voters who were desperate for an "obnoxious" leader to steer America's future.

The New York Times
David Brooks
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