A common criticism of Donald Trump is that he isn’t a “real” conservative — similar to what Mitt Romney faced in the prior election.
Being branded a “RINO” is as certain as death and taxes for Republicans, and the commonality of the insult has eroded its meaning. Despite what policy positions The Donald holds that may put him left-of-center, he’s actually not attracting liberal Republicans to his cause.
As the Pew Research Center found, Trump’s supporters are more conservative than the typical Republican on some of his most discussed issues.
Fully 84% of those who support Trump for the GOP presidential nomination favor building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That compares with 56% of Republican voters who preferred another candidate for the Republican nomination – those who supported Ted Cruz or John Kasich, who last week suspended their presidential campaigns, or volunteered someone else.
Trump’s supporters break with traditional conservatism on free trade and foreign policy (though Trump supporters do favor overwhelming military force to defeat ISIS just as much as non-supporters). Immigration appears to be the key issue that divides the typical Trump supporter from the average Republican.
Opinions about immigrants and immigration policy also divide Trump supporters from those who back other GOP candidates. Nearly seven-in-ten Trump supporters (69%) say that immigrants today are a burden on the U.S. because “they take our jobs, housing and health care.” Fewer than half of Republican voters who did not support Trump (47%) say that immigrants are a burden.
I won’t made the official verdict on whether or not Trump is a “true” conservative, but there’s no questioning that he’s a conservative by comparison when you look at who he’s running against.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]