What Donald Trump Doesn’t Explain About America


A bundle of political-journalism concerns (including this magazine) have in recent weeks dwelled on the apparent rise of Donald Trump, the political novice who has found himself atop several polls for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The reasoning is simple enough: Trump, the thinking goes, has offended enough people on the campaign trail (and carries enough baggage from 30 years in the public eye) that his bid should have long ago lost whatever pulse it had; that he has, if anything, gained support surely signals an American irrationality worth investigating.

Do these analyses spend our time wisely? FiveThirtyEight says they don’t, with the first primary not until January, and with talking on the phone to a pollster having little in common with going to a voting booth. To wit: In August 2011, Michele Bachmann led in Iowa; she would finish sixth in the January caucuses. For its part,

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