by Matthew Rusling
The ever controversial Trump burst onto the political scene in summer, and has outlasted many analysts’ predictions that he would be just a flash in the pan.
The brash and outspoken mogul continues to lead the other candidates in his field, riding on a wave of anti-Washington sentiment and a general sense among Americans that the country is headed in the wrong direction.
But despite much criticism about skipping Thursday night’ s GOP presidential debate hosted by Fox News in Iowa, Trump is unlikely to feel the sting, and may even benefit, experts said.
“Trump will not be hurt by the debate boycott because he still is commanding all the media attention,” Brookings Institution’s senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.
“Not being on the stage will help him avoid detailed scrutiny right before the Iowa caucuses,” he added, referring to the vote that will be held in the U.S. state of Iowa on Monday.
“If he showed up, there likely would be lots of critical questions for him that would have raised some voter doubts. Skipping the debate helps him avoid that spotlight without suffering any decrease in media coverage. All the reporting now focuses on his boycott, not his policy positions or credentials for the job,” West said.
Trump has been blasted for his often over-the-top statements in public, and for touting policies such as wanting to build a massive wall on the United States’ southern border — to keep out illegal immigrants — and demanding that Mexico pay for it. He has also raised hackles for saying that Muslims should not be allowed to enter the United States, following the attacks on Paris that killed 130 people.
Trump’ s popularity stems much from Americans’ frustration with the direction of their country, a still weak economy, and what critics deride as a weak U.S. foreign policy. Experts said Trump’ s message is appealing to supporters who believe the GOP establishment is incapable of leading the country in the right direction.
Indeed, as the U.S. election season begins, only four in 10 Americans rate the situation in the U.S. as positive, which is well below the historical average, a recent Gallup poll found.
Less than half of Americans are upbeat about their personal finances. Forty-four percent of U.S. adults said they are financially “better off” than they were a year ago, while 35 percent said things have gotten worse, according to another recent Gallup poll.
Americans’ satisfaction with security from terrorism has dropped significantly in the wake of the recent terror attacks in France and California, found a separate Gallup poll.
Trump has been able to use these issues to gain supporters, although the challenge for Trump now is to get his supporters out to vote.
Despite his lead in the polls, it remains unknown whether his supporters will head to the ballot box and cast their votes in November.
A number of high-profile experts and personalities have said Trump can indeed clinch the GOP nomination. Among them is former President Bill Clinton, the husband of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who labeled Trump a “master brander” in a recent interview with the CNN. Enditem