Trump's perception as a presidential candidate
In 2015, when Americans who were asked to describe Donald Trump in one word, close to 10 percent of Americans chose the words “idiot/jerk/stupid/dumb”. Other words that were used include arrogant, crazy, nuts, buffoon, clown, joke, unfavorable, egotistical, narcissist, bombastic, entertaining, untrustworthy and aggressive. Of course there were also a few positive words used to describe him, but interestingly, the majority of chosen terms was negatively connotated.
At the start of 2016, the Huffington post chose other words to describe him when they began using this disclaimer: "Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S." Yet, it is exactly these characteristics which have helped him get significant attention, and which have brought to light some important underlying issues that have been churning in American society. For instance, Trump has spent less than other candidate throughout his campaign. Also, back in 2014, before Trump entered the race as a serious contender, the most important problems facing the United States were defined as dissatisfaction with government, the economy in general and immigration/illegal aliens. Trump has addressed all three. In 2016, terrorism, gun control, and racism have also gained importance. Apparently it doesn’t matter if Trump is perceived as an idiot or a racist, these characteristics do not seem to be hindering his campaign.