In 1972, the French wise man Pierre Bourdieu declared that public opinion does not exist. Opinions generated by self-interested groups, and represented through poll results do not reflect reality, he argued.
Today, the Wall Street Journal proclaims, “A Donald Trump Surprise.” Together with NBC, the Journal called up a thousand likely Republican primary voters and asked them which of nine candidates they preferred. Among the nine potential candidates was Donald Trump, of bankruptcy and Home Alone 2 fame. Surprisingly to the Journal, Trump tied for second with Mike Huckabee on 17%, trailing only Mitt Romney at 21%.
A result like this is an example of how polls do not simply reflect public opinion, but in fact shape how and what people are thinking. Why would two of America’s largest media companies spend good money to find out whether Republicans would vote for Trump? He is patently unqualified to be President, he has never served the public in any way, and wouldn’t be able to get elected president of a golf club (unless he owned it). Sarah Palin is 10 times the candidate that Trump is.
With the Trump poll, the Wall Street Journal has bought itself a juicy story, and lots of attention. Hundreds of domestic and international media outlets have already reported their findings, and perhaps, started a brief national conversation.
Can Trump win? Will Trump win? The answer is no. Let us not confuse the 17% his celebrity earned him in a weak field with any kind of popular support, decisive in all political battles.
What this poll reveals is the dire state of the Republican ideology. That Donald Trump is mentioned in the same sentence as the other candidates must warm Barack Obama’s heart. Even in the midst of economic disaster, the Republican Party has been unable to mount a serious challenge for the White House.
The WSJ/NBC poll may create controversy, but does not address reality. On November 6, 2012, will anyone pull the lever for President Donald Trump?