Can Donald Trump continue his stunning surge towards the White House?
A former Brisbane Catholic Education student has been asked the question day after day during recent months.
And he says Trump cannot be written off after a campaign that has been “jaw-dropping in its audacity”.
Simon Jackman is the new CEO of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney – moving back to Australia from his role as Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.
Prof Jackman, who attended Sacred Heart School at Sandgate and St Patrick’s College at Shorncliffe, said Trump had turned the traditional path to the US presidency on its head.
He is closing on the Republic presidential nomination, which will most likely place him against the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton in the race to become the next US president.
What Trump has done
“Trump’s core of supporters are people who feel really left behind by the quite profound changes we have seen in American society over the last 25 years or so.
“Trump’s supporters are heavily white male and they are older. The group skews lower in terms of educational attainment, educational qualifications and income.
“These are some of the most vulnerable people in the American labour market. They are working long hours doing manual labour and it’s tough on them because they’re getting older.
“The America they grew up in isn’t the America they’re now in. And they have a sense that their kids are going to be even worse off than them in this new America.
“They have an economic anxiety, a cultural anxiety and an anxiety about the future.
“Australia is not immune from many of the same forces. You can get to the outer suburbs of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and feel similar anxieties.”
How Trump has done it
“People saw (President Barack) Obama’s campaign and decided that you had to build this corporation beneath you to run for president.
“You needed pollsters, massive research arms and a huge network of field officers and staff on the ground in multiple parts of the country at once. And we haven’t mentioned the spend on media (advertising).
“Trump did none of that. While his rivals were raising and spending mind-blowing amounts of money, he was relying on the media to do his job for him.
“He hasn’t even used a pollster. He didn’t chase the blessing of party elders. The whole thing has been remarkable.”
Will he become President?
“The problem with the Trump constituency is that it’s not big enough to win the general election.
“Look at the 2012 election – 28 per cent of the voters were non-white. That’s a proportion that is only likely to grow. Trump has to limit his damage there.
“But, back in the white sector, Trump has alienated women.
“If he’s successful, it will be a miracle. But this guy has defied our expectations all along. To write him off six months before the election would be impossible despite the odds he faces.”