While waiting at a red light a few days ago, a pickup truck decked out in Confederate flags pulled up in the lane adjacent to mine. The driver had two flagpoles attached to his truck bed, each adorned with the flag of the Confederacy, along with Confederate flag bumper stickers and a Confederate flag license plate frame.
I was in New Hampshire, mind you — not South Carolina — and the pickup truck’s license plate was from the Granite State. The only logical explanation left for the driver’s loud display of the Confederate flag after that flag has been universally condemned as a symbol of hatred and racism is that the driver is endorsing the same.
I didn’t ask the pickup truck driver who he supported in the primary, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he favored Donald Trump, based on his recent surge in the polls and outspoken bigotry. As Republican presidential candidates begin to set their sites on New Hampshire, they will need to come to grips with the party’s racial animosity that Trump’s surge represents.
In May, before announcing his campaign, Trump was only polling at 3 percent. Even after he was unilaterally condemned in headlines for his June remarks accusing almost all Mexican immigrants of being drug dealers and rapists, Trump doubled down on his remarks, and weeks later, he quadrupled his polling position, putting him just behind Jeb Bush. Trump’s popularity has since skyrocketed amongst Republican primary voters. According to polling data from Friday, July 17, Trump held the lead with 18 percent of Republicans preferring him, compared to 15 percent for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and 14 percent for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. A Monmouth University poll of Tea Party supporters revealed that Trump had flipped a 55-percent net negative to 56 percent approval since June, when he made his racist remarks. This kind of immediate swing in the wake of such comments isn’t necessarily an endorsement of Trump, but an endorsement of the hateful values he openly espouses.