Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Are Voters Turning to Trump after the Paris Attacks?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Are Voters Turning to Trump after the Paris Attacks?

Article excerpt

Conventional political wisdom held that Friday's terror attacks in Paris would dent Donald Trump's lead, with voters turning to more experienced, serious candidates with the foreign-policy chops to handle such a crisis.

Instead, multiple polls suggest the attacks have further boosted the billionaire's popularity.

When Reuters asked which candidate was best-suited to deal with terrorism, a sizable 36 percent of Republican voters chose Mr. Trump in a poll released Tuesday, days after the Paris attacks.

In a pair of WBUR polls of Republican voters in New Hampshire conducted before and after the attacks, Trump's support had risen 5 points after the Paris assault.

Nationally, Trump has maintained his first-place ranking, with 24 percent of support among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll out Thursday. Ben Carson is a full 4 points behind.

The polls show that, once again, Beltway wisdom was wrong. The attacks didn't expose Trump as ill-prepared or unversed. Instead, it appears that Trump's populist appeal and show of strength, even aggression, hold significant appeal in times of fear and anxiety.

"If you look at the public polling as to who is strongest when it comes to defeating ISIS, Mr. Trump is the clear winner," Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told The Hill. "These are not my assertions. These are what the polls say time and time again. People want a person who is strong leader."

That's not just campaign bluster; the polls suggest Mr. Lewandowski is right.

In a head-to-head comparison between Mr. Carson and Trump, nearly three quarters of the Republicans surveyed in the Bloomberg poll said they believe Trump "knows the most about how to get things done," two thirds of those surveyed said Trump would do more to address illegal immigration, and more than half said he would be better prepared to combat terrorism and handle Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Why does Trump, who continues to offer little in the way of specifics, impress voters at a time when conventional wisdom would suggest experience is paramount? …

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