Donald Trump gets plenty of news coverage. In fact, he gets so much that he doesn’t have to pay as much for advertising as his adversary, Hillary Clinton, does.
As of August, the Trump camp had spent $90 million less than Clinton and pro-Clinton groups had. Even third-party candidates without a shot of making mainstream news—Gary Johnson and Jill Stein—spent more than Trump at that point.
But although Trump gets plenty of airtime, is it helping him?
Apparently, it is.
Staunch Trump supporters even seem willing to overlook one of his most recent scandals (the one in which he brags about sexually assaulting women without their consent).
So what gives? Why are people so bent on supporting the candidate who once declared, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters”?
Psychologists have plenty of theories about Trump’s baffling level of support, but what’s really behind it?
A new poll says certain personality types favor Trump, and indeed, they make up about 38 percent of the electorate. Some of that is due to loyalty to the GOP; each party has its base that will always vote a straight ticket, no matter what. However, those who call themselves “independents” with no political affiliation are scrambling for the exit doors after the video of Trump bragging about fondling women without their consent.
Trump called his comments “locker room talk,” but most people—most sane people, that is—know that the discussions that take place in the sweaty aftermath of a workout don’t include mentions of what amounts to sexual assault.
Senator John McCain has a simple explanation: “What he did was he fired up the crazies,” said McCain.
One neuroscientist thinks he has a more in-depth answer, though.
Part of it may be attributed to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which says that many people who support Trump do so out of ignorance. They take Trump’s word at face-value, even when he’s completely wrong (such as when he says the economy is the worst it’s ever been—which is patently false). Typically, these same people are completely unaware that they’re uninformed.
“The knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at the task. This includes political judgment,” says psychologist David Dunning.
In plain English, many Trump supporters aren’t smart enough to know that they’re actually not very smart.
A brain-imaging study showed that people who fall on the right side of the political spectrum have a larger amygdala than those who fall on the left—and that part of the brain is what goes “live” during states of fear and anxiety.
The worst part: these brain reactions are automatic. They’re not influenced by logic, reason, or facts.
Neuroscientist Bobby Azarian says, “The overwhelming majority of these people may be beyond reach, at least in the short-term. The best we can do is to motivate everyone else to get out to the booths and check the box that doesn’t belong to a narcissistic nationalist who has the potential to damage the nation beyond repair.”
What Do You Think?
Are you continuing to support Trump in light of his recent scandals? Do you feel neuroscientists and psychologists are wrong? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please, make your opinion heard by sharing it on my Facebook page or on Twitter.