Who are these people?
I mean, these people who say they'll vote for Donald Trump in Republican presidential caucuses and primaries early next year.
The latest Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Poll shows Trump leading with 23 percent of likely participants in GOP caucuses in living rooms and school cafeterias all over Iowa on or about Feb. 1. Mr. Trump, the Iowa Poll found, "finds himself in a vastly better position than when the previous Iowa Poll was taken. He has become a credible presidential candidate to many likely Republican-caucus goers, rated favorably by 61 percent of these voters and unfavorably by 35 per cent, an almost complete reversal since the Iowa Poll in May."
We know a little about what these Trumpers believe. A poll by Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina outfit that sometimes leans a little to the left, found that 66 percent of Mr. Trump's supporters believe President Obama is a Muslim (only 12 percent agree he's a Christian); 61 percent think he was not born in the United States and 63 percent believe it's time to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship.
But that's no big deal. Supporters of most of the other 16 candidates generally hold these same views. What accounts for Mr. Trump's amazing and unexpected success is that voters seem to like his personality and in doing so give short shrift to his often ignorant views. It's only the media, he told reporters the other day, that cares about "policy papers and positions."
He tells it like it is, they say. He's a fighter, they say. He gets things done, they say.
And there seems to be no one willing to stand up and call him what he is – a bully, a loudmouth, a misogynist, sometimes a racist. He is, in other words, a demagogue, and he's getting away with it. So far, at least.
Normally, in times like this, a leader would emerge and cut the loudmouth down to size. But the leader for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, is widely seen as a big government, old-school politician with problems with her own challenger, Bernie Sanders.
Mr. Trump and the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, running second in the Iowa Poll, "one bombastic and the other sometimes soft-spoken, could hardly be more different in their outward presentations," says J. Ann Selzer, who runs the Iowa Poll. "Yet they're both finding traction because they don't seem like politicians and there's a strong demand for that right now."
Donald Trump is one lucky billionaire.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.