Politics

How Trump Supporters Think He Can Win The General Election

CREDIT: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a South Carolina Republican primary night event, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 in Spartanburg, S.C. Trump is the winner in the South Carolina Republican primary.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Donald Trump won his second state primary on Saturday with a sweeping victory, and political pundits are no longer discounting the notion that he can and will win the Republican Party’s nomination.

If the current frontrunner does secure the nomination, he will have to appeal to a broader, more diverse coalition of Americans in order to win the general election and become president. A recent poll showed that Trump would beat Hillary Clinton by two points in a general election — but in order to make that a reality, he has some outreach to do.

Trump supporters at his Election Night victory party in Spartanburg, South Carolina told ThinkProgress they have some ideas for how the real estate mogul can reach out to African American and Hispanic voters — who together make up more than a quarter of the country’s electorate.

His supporters pointed to his business experience as something that should compel diverse voters to join his coalition.

“I would say Donald Trump has the most business experience and financial experience of probably all the candidates put together,” said Kirk Trussell, of Oconee County, South Carolina. “He’s created tens of thousands of jobs. If we can put people back to work again like Ronald Reagan did, all voters will rise with the tide of the economic flow upwards… Everybody will flourish.”

Once Trump reinvigorates the economy, Trussell said he will be able to help minority candidates like the people who are “stuck in ghettos.”

“We still need to take care of the people who need help — the disadvantaged, the ones who are stuck in the ghettos,” he continued. “I think Donald Trump is a compassionate man and I think he will address their situations as well.”

Denny Childers of Spartanburg also said Trump’s promises of jobs and higher pay should appeal to Latinos and black voters. And Ron Jolly of Spartanburg said any minority voter who actually listens to Trump’s message would support him.

“Just vote for the best person,” Steve Jobe told ThinkProgress. “It doesn’t matter if he’s white, black, Hispanic, just vote for the best person.”

Since launching his campaign last spring, Trump has upset large swaths of the electorate by making anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and other racist and sexist comments. But his supporters in South Carolina said voters should not be offended.

“If you take it out of context like the mass media took it out of context — he didn’t say all Mexican people were bad,” Trussell said. “He said there’s a lot of criminals coming over the border, which is a true fact. That doesn’t include the 95 percent of them who aren’t criminals.”

But even while voters talked about Trump’s general election appeal, they continued to disparage the same groups of people that Trump has attacked. Ryan MacMillan of Spartanburg said he agrees with Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

“From his standpoint, we don’t know who’s coming over here,” he said. “If you had powerful rattlesnakes and you said, well some of them may bite you but you don’t know, are you going to let those powerful rattlesnakes come in your house? No you’re not.”

A recent poll found that 60 percent of South Carolina Republicans support banning Muslims from entering the United States, 29 percent support shutting down U.S. mosques, 47 percent support creating a national database of Muslims, and 25 percent support banning Islam in the United States.

“I have a Muslim friend myself and I’m not worried about him biting me,” MacMillan continued. “But [Trump] was just speaking the truth. We don’t know who’s coming in.”

Brandy Long of Greenville, SC attended Trump's victory party with her son.

Brandy Long of Greenville, SC attended Trump’s victory party with her son.

CREDIT: Kira Lerner