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The simplicity of Trump's appeal

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he speaks at campaign stop, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

"We're going to make America great again," it's a statement that observers of the 2016 campaign have heard time and time again as Donald Trump has pursued the GOP nomination.

With Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out of the race and Trump bearing the moniker of the "presumptive nominee," it is phrasing that we're expected to hear even more, as Trump sets his sights on defeating likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

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Trump's tone has been markedly simple during this election and those watching the campaign unfold cannot help but notice that something about it has appealed to voters.

"It's something that's understandable and emotional," explained Thomas Whalen, Associate Professor of Social Sciences at Boston University, when describing how the simplicity of Trump's message appeals to voters.

To understand Trump, Whalen explained, you "don't need to check a thesaurus [or] have someone translate it for you."

"He's so straightforward and blunt," Whalen said. A departure from the traditional politician.

Typically, Whalen explained, politicians will "triangulate," their messaging, which can get confusing.

"What's refreshing about Trump is that he's laser focused on his argument, his point," Whalen said.

"Some people are responding well to a message that they think is coming from an outsider and is the antithesis of the carefully crafted, politically correct messages of career politicians," explained Glenn Altschuler, Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.

"It's important to remember that the same reason that leads some voters to be attracted to him, leads many others to be repelled by him," Altschuler cautioned.

"That's the dangerous game that he is playing," Altschuler said.

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Trump, Whalen explained, is appealing to "people who feel they've been left behind by the ruined Democratic and Republican party."

"I think that these kinds of voters they haven't really gone to the polls a lot in recent years," Whalen said.

"Largely they haven't had a lot to vote for, Trump is essentially giving them a reason to go to the polls."

Trump, Altschuler explained, is appealing to those who "believe they have been left behind" and abandoned.

Altschuler indicated that these people have felt dissed by a "global financial system" that has exported manufacturing jobs and an America, which in their view " is increasingly populated by African Americans, Latinos [and] Asian Americans" and "by establishment politicians who are in bed with the Wall Street big boys."

"The great irony of the Trump campaign is that they have put their faith in a person who has been a beneficiary of the very system he is attacking."

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Altschuler added that "because Americans really don't follow politics very closely they don't value detailed policy positions."

"So they tend to respond to a message that says 'I'm going to put America first,' or 'or 'I'm going to bomb the sh*t out of ISIS,' even if no details follow," Altschuler explained.

While it is unclear how Trump will fulfill his promise to build a wall or deport anyone in the U.S. illegally "it's the message and the tone and the confidence in which it's uttered and the anti-establishment in your face context that connects them to the candidate," Altschuler said.

"There has been an anti-government bias among Americans since the Boston Tea Party and Donald Trump is tapping into a contempt for politicians that is as old as the country itself," Altschuler said.

However, Altschuler said, Trump "is doing it in a 21st century form."

Altschuler described the aforementioned form as Trump leveraging his celebrity and outsider status and a "vulgarity that is now embedded in our popular culture [and] the hold back nothing preferences of some portion of the American population."

Trump, Whalen suggested, is "tapping into an emotional vein here that has real political power."

Trump, Whalen said, has created a "dynamic new campaign where you don't necessarily need a lot of money to get your argument out there."

Trump has used existing broadcast and newspaper establishments to define his candidacy and his ideas.

"I think Donald Trump has kind of re-written the campaign playbook," Whalen remarked.



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