Liberals were presumably cheered by recent Gallup polling reported in USA Today showing that close to two-thirds of the American people did not want to see Donald Trump elected president.
And clearly with the release of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, there will be an increasing hue and cry from the left that Trump is either illegitimate, ill-informed or unqualified to be president. And he may well be some, if not all, of those things.
But we live in a time of crisis, and the American people are looking for leadership. And what the underlying message of the Trump campaign has been, irrespective of substance, is that he is a leader, able to provide solutions and answers, at a time when the American people lament the absence of direct and obvious approaches to the nation’s problems.
Trump’s rise in the Republican primary polls, not withstanding current reports, will not be lost on a Republican field that is desperate to get traction. And those Republican candidates who ultimately announce and go forward will realize is one fundamental truth: The only way for them to gain support and visibility is to take the fight directly to the president, both in terms of their own perception of his personal qualifications, as well as their substantial disagreements with White House policy both at home and abroad.
Right now, high gas prices and a persistently high unemployment rate are driving opposition to Obama, putting candidates like Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney within single digits in presidential election trial heats.
And the White House itself is absolutely cognizant of that fact that under current circumstances with the president’s approval rating closer to 45 percent than to 50 percent, they cannot get elected without a radically different campaign than the one they ran in 2008, as Jim Messina’s first campaign video suggests.
That the White House felt compelled to rebut Trump directly indicates that they will run a more aggressive, more negative campaign against the Republicans.
Put simply, if this election is a referendum on Obama, the administration is increasingly convinced they will lose. If the election is a referendum on the Republicans, the White House believes they have a better than 50 percent chance of winning.
What the Trump candidacy shows is even if he is wrong, and fundamentally wrong on a number of his assertions, his style, his approach, and his persona are what the Republicans need if they are to successfully take the fight to an increasingly unpopular president.
Author Douglas E. Schoen is a longtime political consultant and pollster.