Trump’s Style, his ISIS, Immigration and Women’s Policies-post 1st Debate Polls and Analysis
Donald Trump wanted the first Republican debate to ensure that the focus following it was still all about him–good or bad. And he succeeded due to his bombastic style, outrageous exchanges with Megyn Kelly, and simple solutions for complex foreign policy problems, which apparently are satisfying to at least a portion of the electorate. This early in the campaign, this portion, seems the most vocal, and, I suspect the most intense of any candidate’s supporters. They have made their support known with a vengeance on the internet’s social media.
Trump’s domestic policies aren’t that dissimilar from the other candidates who lined up on the stage with him, though his style of presenting them certainly is–especially, in the first debate, on the related issues of illegal immigration from, and border control with, Mexico. Though he reserved his loudest insults for the Mexican government, he did note correctly that a significant portion of the illegal immigration came from Central America. Trump’s other domestic policy statements were on defunding Planned Parenthood and the abortion issue, positions that appear to be a litmus test for many Republicans. Democrats, and others, view them as women’s issues. Megyn Kelly’s question to him on his language towards women, having called them “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” became the center of his debate controversy. How this plays with Republican primary-voting women remains to be seen. He certainly gave Democrats a lot of fodder for their appeal to women in the “independent” bloc of voters. It’s difficult to believe that it won’t cost him in the general election, should he get that far. Feminist Democrats probably were already in the Hillary camp, so he didn’t move the needle with that group. As everyone who might read this blog no doubt already knows, Trump made a thinly veiled threat to Kelly during the debate and doubled down on the offense he gave her, and women in general, by observing, in his post-debate comments that she “had blood coming out of her whatever” In the face of criticism for that comment, Trump’s chutzpah showed as he insisted that she was the one who should apologize. Trump’s “blood” comment, he now avers “was never meant to refer to menstruating.” Whatever the intent at the time Trump made the statement and it quickly drew condemnation from nearly all of his fellow Republican hopefuls. It also got him “deinvited” to last weekend’s conservative Red State conference.
Has Trump’s headline-grabbing exchange with Megyn Kelley hurt him yet? The only probability based post-election polls that have come out dealing with just the Iowa primary caucus, showed little erosion of Trump’s support. In those polls, he garnered much less support than in online polls, which are notoriously biased, and showed him leading with a huge 40% of those who voted in the polls. In the Iowa post-debate polls he still retained a large, field-leading average of 17% of the samples’ respondents. To draw any conclusions about the longer-run consequences of his performance in the debate the polls, would have had to give comparative results indicating the second choice of supporters for those candidates who seem likely to drop by the wayside. Unfortunately these two polls didn’t ask that question. Neither of the Iowa polls, by the way, were from any of the larger, more respected pollsters such as Gallup, Rasmussen, Marist, Quinnipiac, and Opinion Research. The first national polls to report post-debate suggest results similar to the Iowa polls–but that in itself represents about a 9 percent fall off for Trump. His reaction to his own party’s criticism for his “blood” statement was to heap insults on his critics and to label their responses as just more “PC nonsense.”Apparently Trump’s supporters, at least thus far in Iowa, and on-line, bought that argument. In New Hampshire one locally respected poll has Trump moving into the lead. But nationally his support is a bit shakier, a reduced 17% and 22%, raising questions about whether he’s topping out, and whether the drop off will work its way down to Iowa and New Hampshire.
So, what about Trump’s two candidate-differentiating policy positions? First of all, his solution to the illegal immigration problem is to build a fence along the entire border with Mexico–and somehow force Mexico to pay for it. One of his fellow debaters noted the obvious, that those who bring the illegals into the U.S. could dig tunnels under the fence (and, I should note, already have done). Besides, the time it would take to build such a fence along the 1989 miles of border would be enormous, physically very difficult over some of the terrain, and the cost would be prohibitive, no matter who paid for it. Increasing our border patrols’ size has already lowered the number of apprehensions by the border control (with the aid of planes and drones) by nearly 75%. Trump’s proposal is so ludicrous, costly and ultimately of marginal effectiveness that it is deserving of the ridicule it already has generated. Ralph Basham, the Republican Appointed former Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, writing in U.S. News and World Report in a piece entitled, “Why a Border Fence Wouldn’t Work,” noted:
“In the face of constrained budgets, spending billions on unnecessary fences is not viable. If the symbol of the fence in political campaigns keeps us talking about remaining border security challenges and new and creative approaches that will build on the progress to date then it’s not all bad. But if it deceives the public into believing in 2,000 miles of wall as a magic solution to the hard problems of three decades of uncontrolled immigration, the only thing being fenced is our common sense.”
Trump’s other policy statements have to do with containing ISIS. First he said that if elected he would “kick ISIS’s ass.” He’d already said the if President he’d “kick El Chapo’s ass” (the escaped Mexican drug lord). Apparently he’s big on “kicking-ass.” (or possibly he’s obsessed with derriers), which suggests that whoever get’s elected President can solve the ISIS problem by dropping Donald on ISIS held territory and letting him kick their asses. Post-debate, he added to his ISIS policy by saying that he would send in U.S. troops and completely encircle ISIS to contain them. Let’s see, ISIS controls a huge hunk of territory in both Iraq and Syria. And you couldn’t just put a few hundred thousand American GI’s in a line encircling ISIS territory or they’d be subject to concentrated attacks. I presume he’d have enough Americans, at least in groups of 10,000, to handle any ISIS counter attacks staggered around the ISIS controlled territory to control the entire perimeter. These forces would have to be replete with costly tanks and massive air support. It would take many months to assemble and deploy such a force, require the institution of a draft, and probably match the three trillion dollars the Iraq war has cost so far (if you have trouble conceptualizing three trillions, it is three thousand billions-and a billion is a thousand millions–I love his fiscal responsibility). Absurdly simple solutions–which fall totally apart under even the slightest close examination–to complex problems. And the joker in the deck is that apparently these kinds of policy statements appeal to at least a fifth of the Republican electorate. So far, at least. I wonder how well the Trump style will wear-It’s frightening to think about.