"I think he'd be calling out everybody": A look at the voters powering the Donald Trump surge

As Donald Trump tops yet another poll, New Hampshire Republicans laud Trump's wealth and bravado

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published July 30, 2015 1:44PM (EDT)

Donald Trump                      (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
Donald Trump (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

Another day, another poll showing Donald Trump leading all Republican candidates in the race for the party's presidential nomination, but who are these Trump supporters and why are they choosing this brash billionaire over the widest and perhaps deepest Republican line-up in decades?

The latest national poll of Republican voters, released today by Quinnipiac University, shows Trump on top with 20 percent support, beating his nearest competitor by 7 percentage points. In second place, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pulls in only 13 percent support from Republicans nationally, just ahead of Jeb Bush, who garners 10 percent. This is only the latest in a string of near daily national and state polls showing the real estate mogul with an ever growing lead over the pack of now 16 other Republican presidential hopefuls. Trump's standing in the polls has already cemented him a position on the main debate stage next week in Cleveland, but what exactly is his appeal with Republican base voters all about?

A group of 12 New Hampshire Republican-leaning (some conservative Tea Partyers and some independent voters who are supportive of Donald Trump's presidential candidacy sat down Bloomberg Politics' John Heilemann to explain their interest in the phenomenon that is The Donald.

The New Hampshire Republicans told Bloomberg that none of them had been bothered by Trump's controversial comments equating Mexican immigrants with rapists and criminals. Some, however, did concede that at times Trump can be "a hothead," and a couple of his supporters admitted to being uncomfortable with Trump's diss of Sen. John McCain.

“I thought that was disrespectful,” said Jean, a banker. “Regardless of whether he [McCain] was technically a war hero or not, it was disrespectful.”

Nevertheless, most Trump supporters praised his brash style. “But one thing is when he takes a position, and I'll use the John McCain thing, he didn't turn around two days later and say 'Oh no, that's not what I'm supposed to say.' He stayed with what he believed in, and that's, to me, what I'm looking for,” a teacher explained.

“He speaks the truth ... He says it like it is,” another one young woman said.

She went on to explain her lifelong understanding of Trump as a symbol of success, "I was a little girl, and I didn't even know what Trump Towers were, but I knew that he was a wealthy, successful man and I remember asking my mother if I could write him a letter to ask him how he made his money.”

Asked about the prospects of a Trump presidency, his supporters barely held back their excitement.

“Classy,” is how one real estate agent described a potential Trump White House. “I think it would be exciting,” another supporter predicted. “I really do. I look forward to it. It'll be an interesting thing every day.”

“I think he'd be calling out everybody,” John, a construction worker, said. “I think it'd be pretty good.”

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Elections Bloomberg Politics Donald Trump Gop John Heilemann Polls Republicans