UNH Survey: Trump’s words can’t hurt his popularity

Donald Trump supporters cheer speakers at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Photo: Chance Seales)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– It’s a big day for the Donald Trump campaign. The candidate himself takes the stage tonight to cap off a Republican National Convention that has been anything but smooth. However, a new study out of the University of New Haven says it might not matter.

From the objections, to the boos, to the controversy over Melania Trump’s speech, there have been a lot of issues with the GOP convention. Tonight is Donald Trump’s big moment in the spotlight. What will he say? According to a local college student, none of it matters.

“What we expected was people would react more negatively to the different things Trump has been saying, but people didn’t really react that way,” explained UNH senior Victoria White

Related: Ridgefield man tasked with keeping order at rowdy RNC

White is a senior at the University of New Haven. She got about 2,000 people to take a survey asking how they felt about Donald Trump. They were divided into six groups.

“We had five groups that received Trump statements and one group that received no statement from Trump,” White said.

The group that received no statement is considered the control for this experiment. The other five got statements such as the famous line about Mexicans from his campaign announcement in June of last year: “They are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they’re rapists.”

“So those who received the Mexicans as rapists statement had the same approval for Trump as those who received no statement, which was really, really interesting,” White said.

Even Latinos did not change their opinion of Trump based on statements like that. The student’s advisor says it goes against what political scientists generally think would happen.

“You know, we would normally expect there to be some ‘Framing Effects’ is what we call them, when presented with those statements, and people just seem to be not affected at this point by that rhetoric,” said Chris Haynes, UNH Political Science Professor.

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He says opinions about Trump crystallized early in the campaign, and the research seems to show that even among poorly informed voters, nothing Trump says can change his support.

“It just seems like everyone knows about Trump at this point,” Haynes said. “Everyone knows about theses statements and that information is already baked-in.”

In other words, Trump supporters just accept that he is going to say controversial and racist things. It also has the effect of creating a solid block of voters who will vote for anyone to keep Trump out of the White House, and the two sides are roughly the same size.

That means about 15% of undecided voters are going to make all the difference. If third party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson grabs some of those votes, it means just a tiny fraction of the voting public will decide this election.

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