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UB professor sees Trump's appeal falling short in November

Jerry Urban

While Donald Trump's message connects with many, his ability to take the White House in November remains in doubt. "I don't think he's a viable general election candidate," said Jacob Neiheisel, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University at Buffalo.

Professor Neiheisel shared his analysis earlier on WBFO's Morning Edition.

"He has really high negatives, probably some of the highest negatives we've seen in the history since we've been asking that question," said Neiheisel while acknowledging Trump's popularity in certain regions, including Upstate New York.

"His message, particularly with regard to preventing businesses from going offshore, things of that nature, probably resonates with areas hit hardest by the economic downturn that we've seen."

Some of Dr. Neiheisel's research focuses on the role that religion plays in electoral politics. The 2016 campaign should offer several lessons.     

"We actually found that support for statements like those that Donald Trump has made actually have a partisan component to it," Neiheisel explained.  

"When you think about it, you think that religious animus would be motivated mostly by religious out-groups. You like your own group, you dislike other groups."

While some believe Trump's popularity has yet to peak, making him a strong candidate for a win in November, Dr. Neiheisel remains unconvinced.

"I've seen some prediction markets putting a chance at a Trump win, I'd say, fairly low," Neiheisel said.

"Even though economic conditions and maybe voter fatigue with the Democratic Party should favor, or at least bring even any kind of Republican candidate, I think he's going to underperform that number."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.