Election 2016 has been turned on its head by so called "outsider" candidates. Those who are surprised at this and claim to be experts have been negligent and have effectively failed at their studies because the trends that have brought us to this point have been glaring in poll after poll as record numbers of American voters have expressed their growing loss of faith in their leaders, their media, and related institutions. Less than a quarter of Americans (21%) expressed in a recent series of polls conducted by Rasmussen that the federal government represents the consent of the governed. A clear majority 63% expressed emphatically that it did not represent the consent of the governed. This is not an outlier poll and is in line with other polls from Gallup, Pew, and CNN.
This discontent is broad and deep and has only grown since 1992 when businessman Ross Perot temporarily confounded the political machine. The Republicans for a time adjusted their policies and tamped down much of the discontent that fueled the Perot insurgency and embraced passing a balanced budget amendment, welfare reform, and stopped Hillarycare under the leadership of Newt Gingrich but a combination of the economic implosion at the end of the Bush years, the perceived betrayal of the citizenry through corporate bailouts,endless wars and the election of Obama has led to a level of dissatisfaction not seen in recent history. Democrat political consultant Pat Caddell described the current political state as "pre-revolutionary" and this discontent helped fuel huge midterm waves for the GOP in 2010 and 2014.
Gallup and other polling shows clearly that the electorate had some hopes for the GOP controlled senate at the end of 2014 but that quickly plummeted as the impotence of the GOP leadership became apparent as they caved or refused to move against Obama even going as far as setting up conditions so that they could not stop Obama but would pretend to try in what has been termed "failure theater". This wasn't helped by the fact that the leadership in collusion with the US Chamber of Commerce had targeted and helped defeat several Tea party candidates with the betrayal in Mississippi standing out as the GOP establishment candidate Thad Cochran stooped to new lows using race baiting to get Democrats to vote in the GOP primary to defeat Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniels. These factors together have directly fueled a collapse of GOP leadership favorability among Republican voters which has lended credibility and appeal to "outsider" candidates and the recent resignation of Speaker Boehner.
Polls show that the number of individuals not willing to identify with either party has continued to grow and is currently as high as 39%. Some polls have shown that as much as 60% of the electorate would be willing to vote for an independent candidate. This growing discontent with both parties appears to have finally reached critical mass in this election cycle especially for Republicans where there is a near wholesale rejection of candidates with any establishment or government ties. The growing gulf between the political class (establishment, status quo, Washington DC insiders) has been measured in polling showing that when most of Americans (87%) in 2010 believed the government was headed in the wrong direction 67% of of the political class believed all was well. It is no surprise that Washington DC shows an 80% approval rating for Obama and that 13 of the richest counties in the US form a circle around the nation's capital. There is a literal bubble that those in Washington DC live and operate in which is like a parallel alien universe when compared to the rest of the country. There is not just a disconnect but a total lack of common reference. While the rest of the country was suffering an economic depression those that work in the bureaucracies of Washington DC continued to get richer and live their lives like nothing had changed.
The final factor that is playing heavily into this election season is the continued erosion of trust in traditional media. When polled only 40% say they put a "great deal/fair amount" of trust in mass media (newspapers, tv, radio). This drops to 36% among 18-49 year olds and even further to 32-33% among Republicans and Independents. When you look at polling numbers like these its not really a surprise that media attacks are not working very well against candidates like Trump and Carson especially among the GOP. It is very easy to make the argument that the media is not fair and is not telling the whole truth especially among the GOP and Independents. Democrats as a group trust the media much more with a high of 55% which is actually a low when taken in context of the high of 70% polled in 2005. This of course isn't a real surprise given that only 7% of journalists identify as Republican and vast majority vote Democrat. The current mistrust in the media has been growing as has the lack of trust in leadership especially among Republicans and Independents and these combined factors are critical to understanding the rise of the "outsider" candidates.
We now are just are just a little more than 2 months before the Iowa Caucuses and Trump and Carson both outsiders have led the pack since August. Rubio and Cruz have established themselves firmly in the top 4 while the one time assumed hier ascendant Jeb Bush can't break double digits and is struggling to hold on to 5th place even in his home state of Florida. Those that hoped that Trump and Carson would fade have totally underestimated these very accomplished men who even though lacking in political experience have tapped into the vein of discontent and populism that clearly is not running dry. Now post the Paris attacks when the media and many in the political class want to sing homilies about the "religion of peace" and blindly transport thousands of predominantly sharia believing muslim refugees from the middle east resettling them throughout America in order to "help them" as if we can not help them best in the Middle East by securing refugee camps and pressuring rich countries like Saudi Arabia to take them in most Americans will not and do not buy this Hobson's choice just as they are increasingly rejecting all the false choices presented by the political/media establishment. Donald Trump's reaction to the refugee crisis shows a no holds barred straight talk approach that increasing numbers of citizens are hungering for he stated in a tweet and also in video
"Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are - some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?"
The rise of outsiders has been totally predictable as they reject leadership that can not even speak clearly and directly when confronted with a direct threat. Trump and Carson speak the language of the common man they don't chide them and talk down to them they embrace them and because of this one of them will very likely be President.