There is a primary reason why followers of Donald Trump will stick with him through anything he says and does. They have an emotional investment in him. Emotional investment in a candidate usually starts when a candidate appeals to a person in some way – through intellect/logic/reasoning and/or emotion. Trump appealed to the emotions of potential supporters from the very start. Their discontent was his discontent. Their anger was his anger. By playing to the emotions of these potential supporters a lot of these potential supporters became followers of Donald Trump. Now, his discontent is their discontent. His anger is their anger. His cause is their cause. His fight is their fight. His followers are, in essence, Trump. If you “attack” Donald Trump then you’re attacking his followers also.
(This is an update 10/6/2016) – It appears that Trump may very well play up this “emotional investment” that his supporters have for him. Just today he said, “A vote for me is a vote for change, and common sense, and a strong military, and great veterans’ care, and Second Amendment rights, and good health care….But it’s also a vote directly for you. Because I am a reflection of you. You’re voting as people who believe in yourselves. You are voting to believe in your future. You are voting to believe in your great country. All together, we are going to make our country wealthy again….And we are going to make America great again.”
Emotional investment in a candidate can occur through intellect, logic, and reasoning but it usually takes a lot longer for it to happen. Emotional investment in a candidate through emotions takes a much shorter time and is the reason for Trump’s meteoric rise. The fact is this was a major reason for Barak Obama’s meteoric rise. Obama appealed to the emotions. Hillary Clinton fell flat.
A candidate who deals in specifics and who tends to be more of a “policy wonk” have a harder time attracting supporters. They try and attract supporters through logic and reasoning and not as much with emotion. They don’t tend to inspire and are not looked upon as leaders.
When we become emotionally invested in the candidate we take very personally his or her success or failure: when he or she speaks, we hold our breath, hoping the words will come out right. When he or she is politically attacked then we are attacked as well.
Donald Trump, more than any other candidate, has been able to tap into this emotion of people and create a large core of emotionally invested followers in a very short period of time. A lot of his followers are those who haven’t paid too much attention to politics to begin with except when the election cycle starts anew . They, of course, are “prime pickings” for a candidate like Trump in terms of appealing to the emotion of a person rather than to their logic and reasoning.
Gerald R. Vimont