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Getting “Trumped”

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

It occurred to me when I was in Chicago the other day that the media furor about billionaire mogul Donald Trump’s insistence that he hang 20-foot-high letters spelling out his name on his skyscraper is pretty much the same sort of mindset behind Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign to tag “Billionaire Bruce Rauner” as a rich, out-of-touch, right-wing white guy.

So I commissioned a poll. While a majority of those surveyed actually agree that Mr. Trump has the right to hang his letters, he’s not popular here and voters don’t think that people like him can understand regular folks.

The Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of 1,033 likely Illinois voters found that just 38 percent have a favorable view of Trump while 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. His numbers were worse in Chicago and suburban Cook County, where voters are far more Democratic and where the “giant letters” controversy has received the most media attention.

Just 23 percent of Chicagoans and 25 percent of suburban Cook County residents had a favorable view of the New York developer, compared with the 52 percent of Chicagoans and 56 percent of suburban Cook County residents who had an unfavorable view. His favorable versus unfavorable ratings among African-Americans were 27-46 and among whites 38-43. His highest favorable ratings were among Republicans 53-23, downstaters 47-34, collar county residents 44-38 and independents 43-37. The poll, conducted on June 25, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.05 percent.

But a large majority agreed with Trump when asked: “This month, Chicago’s mayor and many others criticized Mr. Trump for placing what they called ‘garish’ 20-foot-tall letters spelling out his name on his new downtown Chicago skyscraper. Trump said it was his right to do so.”

The poll found that 61 percent of Illinoisans sided with Trump, while just 29 percent sided with Trump’s critics. Democrats were split 44-45 on the issue. African-Americans sided with Trump 47-41, as did 57 percent of Chicagoans, 56 percent of suburban Cook residents, 69 percent of collar county residents, 61 percent of downstaters, 80 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents.

“Despite the relatively low opinion many have of Mr. Trump, most believe he has the right to put his name in ego-sized proportion on his own building,” explained Gregg Durham, CEO of Springfield-based We Ask America, an independent subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “They’re able to separate their personal feelings about the man from the larger question concerning his rights.”

But I also wanted to test not just attitudes about Mr. Trump but people like him — as in Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor. So, we came up with this question: “Do you think that wealthy people like Mr. Trump are able to understand the problems of everyday folks?”

Just 32 percent of Illinoisans said that those people can understand regular folks, while 55 percent said they couldn’t, according to the poll.

The differences were most pronounced among Democrats, with 18 percent saying “can understand” versus 72 percent saying “cannot understand.” The split among Chicagoans was 21-63 and African-Americans at 26-58.

A plurality of Republicans, a mere 47 percent, agreed that people like Mr. Trump can understand regular folks, which probably shows you more than anything else just how ingrained this mindset is. The split was 45-44 among suburban collar county residents.

As mentioned earlier, a plurality of independents, 43 percent, had a favorable viewpoint of Mr. Trump, and a strong majority supported his right to hang those huge letters. But just 35 percent of independents said that Mr. Trump and those like him can understand their problems, while 51 percent said they can’t.

Downstaters leaned toward liking the developer and strongly supported his right to hang his letters, but a mere 27 percent said wealthy people like him can understand the problems of everyday folks, while 59 percent said they can’t.

And the same goes for whites, who didn’t care for Trump but backed his sign decision. Just 32 percent said Trump and folks like him can understand their problems, while 57 percent of whites said they cannot.

Taken in this context, it’s easy to understand Mr. Rauner’s endlessly repeated emphasis on his $18 watch and his Harley Davidson motorcycle. It also helps explain the private-equity investor’s announcement last week that he was supporting some longtime populist proposals to close several “corporate loopholes” and to slap an inheritance tax on the transfer of yachts and jets to surviving spouses.

Rauner cannot risk being “Trumped” by Gov. Quinn. On the other hand, the Democratic governor apparently believes he needs to paint his opponent as a local version of the cartoon character that Trump has become. It obviously works well here.

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Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


25 Comments
  1. - William j Kelly - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 9:26 am:

    There is a big difference between people who actually build things like trump and the rahms and Rauner’s of the world who get rich off dirty insider deals. As a life long Chicagoan I say thank you to trump for the great building and all the revenue that comes with it. To Rahm is say, what have you built? A real city deserves a real mayor! Williamjkellyforchicago.com


  2. - too obvious - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 9:27 am:

    A simple reminder that Donald Trump has been one of the country’s leading birther kooks and all of these numbers go out the window, especially with African Americans I would think.

    And a developer doesn’t have a “right” to hang whatever he wants on the side of a building any more than your neighbor has a “right” to turn his property next door to your house into a strip club or factory.


  3. - Southwest Cook - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 9:29 am:

    Not a fan of Trump, but he’s not the only one involved with an oversized ego.


  4. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 9:29 am:

    Chicago has been pretty blessed by a large group of philanthropic wealthy people who have not got Trump sized egos. Would the democrats taking the poll have the same view toward the Pritzkers, Lurie’s, Harris’, McCormick’s, Palmer’s, even Oprah? I really believe most Chicagoans (including Rauner) are generous and involved because the Midwestern value folks who live here don’t practice the “No good deed goes unpunished” philosophy.

    This is a good column, don’t get me wrong. But, comparing Rauner or any Chicago Philanthropist to Donald Trump is foolhardy. Our folks just don’t roll that way. They’ve benefited from far too much public goodness to spit in the eye of the benefactors. It’s among the few things this city has ALWAYS gotten right. We should just be thankful to all of them as a group. Trump will never be one of them.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    Rauner has his name in his school, has his name on the WMCA, and when you call yourself a “.01%er” your ego says Billionaire, while the bank account says “$800 million” or “$500 million”

    You try too hard with pristine Carhartts and $18 watches to “seem” normal, when your “.01%er” quotes and 9 houses and Libraries and Dormitories at Dartmouth (with the Rauner name attached, no less) are ego driven drivel.

    Great read, Rich.

    Rauner: Can “we” see something in the Carhartt “summer line”?


  6. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    I didn’t get the full fuss about the Trump sign until I saw it at night - Good Lord, it really is a tattoo on the riverfront architecture view. I don’t know how far the analogy to Raunner goes - maybe quite a bit, but the “rich folk in politics” thing cuts both ways - in the case of Herb Kohl and Peter Fitzgerald, it allowed for a degree of independence from the party that others simply can’t match.

    I also think Quinn has a balancing act here: class privilege is probably effective to some degree, but if he starts demonizing the rich he may get more blowback than a couple of libertarian millionaires’ contributions.


  7. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    Willie, that’s just plain goofy. The Lurie’s have their name on a hospital and a garden in Millennium Park. The Harris’, a theatre, the Pritzker family has been named on many buildings and attractions. Go to Lincoln Park zoo, there are many families commemorated for their generosity. Blessings on any philanthropic person who does public good with their treasure.

    Rauner has been generous for years with education and many other areas. As have the others. Is there a Willie Lemonade Stand in Oswego somewhere? All of us should do what we can. The author of this blog has been generous to Lutheran Children Services. I’ve never heard anyone take a shot at him for that.

    Why don’t you stick to the other blather you sell daily and leave the philanthropy alone. People who live northeast of you rely on that goodness. A YWCA is an important place.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    - A Guy… -,

    They ain’t … runnin’ for Governor.

    The charter school, that’s a business that wasn’t even good enough for Bruce’s “perfect score” Denied Daughter, but good enough for a name on a building.

    ===The author of this blog has been generous to Lutheran Children Services. I’ve never heard anyone take a shot at him for that.===

    Don’t drag Rich into this, lol.

    Philanthropy is one thing, charter schools and running for governor are far different than the Lurie Hospital… Unless a Lurie family member is running for governor…


  9. - PublicServant - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    Pass a zoning ordinance stating that lettering over a certain size cannot be placed on a building, refund the cost of the sign including it’s removal to Trump. Done.


  10. - Goooner - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    Kelly is going to run for mayor?

    Did he find out that Ray Wardingley passed on this one?


  11. - The Prince - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    I don’t like signs on buildings. I don’t see how the Trump sign is any worse than the Chase sign or the CNA sign. The absolute worst sign is the Nuveen sign on Wacker. Ruins the look of the building completely.


  12. - walker - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    Rauner’s apparently not Trump, and thank God. One Trump is too many.

    The problem with Trump is not that he “doesn’t understand the problems of regular folks.” It’s that he understands them well enough to cheat them, manipulate them, inflate them, bully them, and make them eat his losses on a regular basis.

    I don’t see any evidence of that kind of inter-personal evil in Rauner. Rauner’s problem, IMO, is that he doesn’t seem to fully understand the challenges of government.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    - walker -,

    Much respect,

    ===Rauner’s problem, IMO, is that he doesn’t seem to fully understand the challenges of government.===

    “…or how government effects ‘normal’ people too.”

    If I could add to your critique.


  14. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    == Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    - A Guy… -,

    They ain’t … runnin’ for Governor.===

    It doesn’t matter. They didn’t name the school after he announced for governor. Ms. Pritzker’s nomination to a cabinet position was held up for time because of shallow minded putzes who hold their philanthropy up against them for political purposes.

    True or False:
    Rauner’s name on anything happened (long) before he ran for Governor?
    Rauner did not name these things after himself? (ala Trump- someone else named them after him for his generosity)
    Rauner gave of his treasure freely and would have and will continue to regardless of any political benefit or not?

    If you answered honestly, all the answers are true. Philanthropic gifts are gifts to society. Anyone who makes it harder to do or criticizes it is a jerk.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    ===Rauner did not name these things after himself? (ala Trump- someone else named them after him for his generosity)

    So… They insisted that Rauner Prep and the Rauner YMCA have Bruce’s name? lol.

    Rauner Dormitory and Rauner Library at Dartmouth? Nothing like making donations anonymously.

    ===Rauner gave of his treasure freely and would have and will continue to regardless of any political benefit or not?===

    But it DOES have political ramifications. Bruce talks all the time the millions he donated, so Bruce isn’t trying to “Cash In” on his donations?

    What is it you love to say, “Bruce has given millions to schools” when that pesky Payton Prep lying and Clouting is brought up.

    His “generosity” is a shield, like his Denied Daughter or Wife are shields.

    Rauner Prep, a school named for Bruce, but not good enough for his daughter, but good enough for the publicity of being “involved”

    It’s about ego, just like running for Governor, but the press and attention is better at massaging the ego than just a name on a building.


  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    I still agree with 47 — it should be “pay-to-play insider Rauner,” not “billionaire Rauner.”


  17. - sloman2001 - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Many businesses have their names on buildings. Why not Trump I’ll never understand why some people (specifically the people in charge whether they be Democrats or Republicans) wish to push their own views onto others. Rahm should focus his time and energy on education, Chicago violence, and Chicago’s fiscal issues. Instead he focuses in on this crap. Gheeeshh!!!!! Let’s get a new mayor, maybe one that is neither Dem or Repub with an truly independent government. Group think is getting very very very old.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    More Blago, more Stu Levine, less Trump is the prism.

    Bruce Rauner is all about short cuts, pay to play, Clouting, insider deals, and gaming the system…

    …while calling out Career Politicians, and Unions and Union Bosses.

    Easiest and cleanest framing of Bruce Rauner.


  19. - Wally - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:54 pm:

    OW is counting the days until he can cast that early vote for Quinn.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    - Wally -,

    Won’t vote for Rauner, can’t vote for Quinn.

    Leaving it blank leaves both to find their own Plusses.

    I will not help the Blago of the ILGOP take over as governor, like he hijacked the ILGOP.


  21. - Wally - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    IMO, we have tried Quinn/Blago, and it is a wreck. I will support BR and hope he gets the chance.

    A lot of people nationally have buyers remorse with Obama. I believe they have(or should have) buyers remorse with Quinn. We have a chance to do something about it.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    ===IMO, we have tried Quinn/Blago, and it is a wreck. I will support BR and hope he gets the chance.===

    Bruce Rauner is re-packaged Blago.

    The fact you can’t see that, well, that is the salesmanship Rauner hopes “Bruce Rauner” fools lemmings to believe the fakeness.

    Good luck with that.


  23. - Wally - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    It is better than the alternative. And, he is not Blago, not even close.


  24. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:25 pm:

    ==A lot of people nationally have buyers remorse with Obama.==

    Who? I don’t see a lot of “buyers remorse” for the first president elected to consecutive terms with 51%+ of the vote each time since Eisenhower. Poor approval ratings today do not necessarily equate “buyers remorse.” Would that exist if Democrats held the House? I think not because a lot more would be getting done.


  25. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 8:26 pm:

    Both a fabulous Column–and Analogy. I’ve been commenting here for quite some time that average folk just can’t relate to Rauner, nor do they believe he can TRUlyunderstand them and their every-day problems, and that this reality very WELL, though not DEFinitely of course, may cost him the Election in the end. People aren’t stupid, and they GENuinely want to like who they support…!


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