A journalist and a USC professor discussed the possibility of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump winning the presidential election at “Why Donald Trump Shouldn’t Win — and Will,” hosted by the Department of Political Science in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the Von KleinSmid Center Tuesday.
Bob Shrum, a professor of political science, spoke with Brian Calle, the editor-in-chief of CalWatchDog.com, the opinion editor for the Southern California News Group and a professor at Chapman University.
The two discussed Trump’s persona, his appeal to different voting blocs and why a Trump presidency would not necessarily have a positive impact on the country.
When discussing Trump’s favorability in Rust Belt states due to his blue-collar pro-protectionist and pro-middle class rhetoric, Calle said that these areas, combined with a handful of swing states, is enough to secure a Trump presidency, much like the populist public opinion that elected the new Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte and passed the Brexit vote. Calle highlighted social pressure as the cause leading individuals to state something differently in the polls and in public than they do in the voting booth.
Calle noted that this election points toward an irrelevance in debate outcomes. He alluded to his belief that who won and who lost the debate will have little effect on the way Americans will vote come Election Day. Calle also recalled the limited effect Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s debate victories had on the direction of the last presidential election.
“If we remember back to 2012, everyone said Romney destroyed Obama in the first debate, and over and over I kept saying, ‘it doesn’t matter if Romney wins all three debates, it’s not going to move the electorate,’” Calle said. “I think this first debate confirmed people who already support Trump are going to continue to support Trump, and for people who are supporting Hillary, they are going to continue to support Hillary.”
Calle said, however, that Trump’s popularity may not be measured accurately, as in many more Democratic-leaning states Trump supporters feel pressure to not voice their opinions.
“I think the polls are a little bit skewed nationwide, but particularly in more competitive states,” Calle said. “I meet with incredibly smart and successful people, be it CEOs, some of my students at Chapman, professors, a couple of university presidents. All of them will say publicly ‘I’m not voting for Donald Trump’ and privately will vote for Trump.”
Calle, who calls himself a “free-market enthusiast,” voiced his concerns for the future of the Republican Party given its conservative social leanings and its inability to keep up with modern times.
“My last name is Calle — I’m half-Latino,” Calle said. “My longest-standing relationship was with a Muslim. So if Donald Trump were elected president, and we take him with his word, he would send me back to Mexico and put my ex in jail.”
For Calle, the U.S. is in need of a president who will unite opposing sectors of society — but he does not believe either Clinton or Trump is it.
“I don’t think Hillary Clinton is by any means at all a uniting force, and I certainly don’t think that Donald Trump is [either],” Calle said. “A Trump presidency emboldens fringe elements of America in a way that would be dangerous, especially when we already see racial tensions bubble.”
Alexandra Kincade, a junior majoring in political science, said that the conversation on Trump stayed objective even though it was led by someone within the Republican Party.
“It is interesting to know that someone doesn’t necessarily support [Donald Trump] and still thinks that there is a decent possibility that he would get elected,” Kincade said.