Trump: The True Representative of Republican Values

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks to the ceiling in referencing the height of a promised immigration wall during a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, February 19. Randall Hill/Reuters

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You know the rap against Donald Trump, right? He's playing to the anger of relatively poor and relatively dumb (read: uneducated) white hicks who are political neophytes.

As National Review's Reihan Salam puts it in a column at Slate, "Trump is strongest not in the metropolitan corners of America, where he's spent most of his life. Rather, his strongholds are the mostly overlooked sections of the South, Appalachia and the rural and semi-rural North."

That's a comforting myth for Republican activists, because they can then pretend that Trump doesn't really represent their party even as he scores yuge wins in primaries of "moderate" states such as New Hampshire.

But as Elizabeth Price Foley points out at Instapundit, it's just not true. The plain fact is that Trump is crushing his GOP competition across all demographics.

I'm not sure what makes Salam think that Americans of "Scots-Irish" descent are poor Appalachian hillbillies with substance abuse problems. This odd racial stereotyping aside, Salam is simply wrong that Trump's primary support emerges from poor, uneducated whites, an unsupportable myth I've written about before that keeps getting repeated by the GOPe and Democrats alike.

More importantly, I hardly think that a platform of issues that are important to all Americans–national security, jobs, immigration (all of which are intimately related)–is fairly characterized as a racial dog whistle, unless one believes that these issues are particularly "white" (or more specifically, "Scots-Irish") issues.

Consider these exit polls from New Hampshire, where Trump smoked his nearest opponent, John Kasich, by close to 20 points. He won both genders, all age groups, all income levels, and all educational levels. More exit summaries can be found here.

Polls taken last year show that while Trump is particularly strong among less educated voters, he stacks up very well against opponents across all ideologies and when it comes to education levels, too. From a Los Angeles Times account in December:

About one-third of Republican voters who have a high school education or less back Trump, which puts him far ahead of Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, who is in second place with that group, at 17 percent. Ted Cruz at 9 percent, Sen. Marcio Rubio of Florida at 7 percent and Bush at 6 percent round out the top five.

But among those with a college degree or more, Trump's lead is much smaller. He has 21 percent of the voters in that group, compared with 19 percent for Carson, 13 percent for Rubio, 9 percent for Cruz and 6 percent for Bush.

Got that: He's more popular among Republicans who went to college than any of the other guys, too. Just not as popular as he is among high-school grads.

Coming out of Iowa, Trump also did well with college grads (he grabbed 22 percent of them to Ted Cruz's 26 percent) and post-grads (20 percent to 23 percent). More details of exit poll here.

I understand why educated and cosmopolitan Republicans are freaked out by Trump: He's eating the party's lunch at this point.

And he is crass, vulgar, and generally unthinking. The things he says about women such as Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina, the way he reveled in Ted Cruz being called a pussy, how he thinks of Mexicans—these are all deeply embarrassing to anyone with any sense of shame or decency.

His policies, such as they are, are stupid and embarrassing, revolving mostly around statements of self-aggrandizement and obsessions with masculinity, greatness, weakness and an ability to bend people to his will.

And yet, the sooner that finely mannered Republicans admit that he pretty perfectly matches their longstanding anxieties and aspirations, the sooner they might either learn to live with him as their presidential nominee or radically alter the party they think he is somehow stealing from them. But to pretend that Trump is not representative of the GOP or has no constituency among coastal, urban elites? Yeah, dream on.

Nick Gillespie is the editor-in-chief of and Reason TV and the co-author of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, just out in paperback.