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Donald Trump’s High Ratings and the Strength of Weak Ties

Many have been astounded by Donald Trump’s performance in the polls for the US presidential election. A recent CNN poll reports his current approval rating with the GOP stands at 32%, far surpassing any of the other candidates. There seemed to be a disconnect between Trump’s resounding popularity with his misogynistic comments and offensive stabs at other candidates. Some try to explain this effect with the rational that, “people find him entertaining.” This explanation did not satisfy me because the seriousness with which some people consider his campaign far outweighs the possibility that people are merely supporting him as a joke.

As I began reading more about possible explanations for his success, I came across several articles that point to his celebrity as one of the primary contributors to his popularity. Trump is able to draw huge crowds to his events and fill them with people from sectors different from the typical political spheres. This led me to think about how the strength of weak ties could play in to Trump’s rising in the polls. Trump is extremely recognizable to an incredibly large group of people. This means that as triadic closures form and networks increase in size, this awareness will likely be passed onto new nodes. More local bridges will then be created that connect components consisting of people with a wide range of political leanings. Having more connections would likely increase the possibility that someone in this large network would find Trump an appealing candidate, and subsequently pass on this opinion to others he or she is connected to in this network.



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September 2015