For the dazed and confused out there voicing concern about the continued success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, I may have an explanation, if not an excuse. It is possible that Trump’s perch atop the Republican field is simply a sign that a large portion of the electorate, when viewed as an audience, has altered the way it receives political speech.
What Trump represents is a technological change among consumers. And while it cannot be argued that he has elevated the national discourse, such change has happened before: when Americans went from print to radio and then to television during the past 100 years.
Looking at it this way helps explain the gravity-defying trajectory of the Trump campaign since its launch in mid-June. Despite myriad predictions of his quick implosion, he has remained almost consistently in first place for the Republican nomination since July 20 (135 of 138 days through Dec. 5 to be exact, according to RCP’s polling average).