How the Hell Is Trump Not Losing Terribly in the Polls?

The GOP nominee has bragged about sexual assault, been accused of raping a child, and been endorsed by the KKK. How is he not getting crushed?

by Sarah Hagi
Nov 4 2016, 9:29pm

Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Staff via Getty Images

Perhaps the only thing that feels more endless than this election cycle is the onslaught of Donald Trump's scandals continuing to make headlines even as we near the end of the campaign. Between calling Mexicans rapists, threatening to deport all Muslims, and allegedly sexually assaulting a dozen women—hardly anything he does seems surprising anymore. While pundits initially took his announcement to run for president as a joke, the world now watches to see if the joke will ultimately be on all of us by Tuesday.

According to the latest polls, the race is frighteningly very close.

With just days left until the election, both Trump and Clinton are looking for any opportunities to secure more votes. Unfortunately for Clinton, the most recent development in her email scandal isn't helping her in the polls. According to a recent poll released by The Washington Post, voters are now 34 percent less likely to vote for Clinton since the FBI released their statement. This dip comes even after the recent reveal that the FBI is also currently investigating "a campaign they believe is backed by the Russian government to undermine the credibility of the US presidential election" and specifically the Clinton campaign.

But why do scandals—even ones that can be fabricated—seem to hit Clinton harder than Trump?

Read More: 'He Raped Me': When Donald Trump Was Accused of Sexual Assault

On Wednesday, the most recent edition of the KKK's official newspaper featured a lengthy endorsement for Trump. Using very clear white supremacist rhetoric, the endorsement read, "We are living among people who have been disconnected from the spirit, values, morals and faiths of our forefathers," continuing with, "America was great not because of what our forefathers did - but because of who our forefathers were. America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great."

Trump's camp has tried to distance themselves from the organization, releasing a statement saying, "Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form. This publication is repulsive and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign." Regardless of Trump's official statement slamming the endorsement, this is not the first time he's attracted Klan members. In an interview with the LA Times in September, Klan leader David Duke said, "The fact that Donald Trump's doing so well, it proves that I'm winning. I am winning." In an email obtained by Politico, Neo-Nazi leaders revealed their plans to ensure Trump's victory by watching polling stations via camera and keeping black voters away from the polls by offering them weed and alcohol.

However, Robert Y. Shapiro, professor of American politics Columbia University, says that while polls may not show a major change, Trump's comments, "have had an effect in terms of increasing Hillary Clinton's support." The main problem is that both are disliked by the majority of people.

"You have two candidates who have very high unfavorability ratings. What's driving this is two things," Shapiro explains. "One thing is Trump supporters hate Hillary." Not only that, but they hate everything that backs her. "They hate her, Democrats, and Obama and they hate them deeply. It's both ideological and there's also an element of racial resentment."

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Shapiro explains that for many Trump supporters there's one clear difference between him and Clinton. "What offsets his misbehaviors are Hillary's problems with emails and her connections to Wall Street." For many voters, especially white voters, it's between the lesser of two evils. "Trump is, call him what you want —a bully a misogynist— that's bad. But Hillary Clinton is 'corrupt' and so it's a battle of what's worse."

But what may not be making it seem like Trump's antics stick is a mix between the 24 hour news cycle and what kind of media different voters consume. When a new story about Trump comes out, there's a sharp interest in whatever it is he's done followed by a sharp decline. His poll rankings have seen historic lows, only for them to come right back up. Not only that, but a network like CNN will focus on Trump's behavior, while Fox will focus on the Clinton emails. "People who are predisposed to one candidate or the other will find media outlets that confirm whatever they're thinking," Shapiro says.

Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump
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