Friends keep asking: who are Trump supporters? How stupid can they be? And the answer I am moving toward involves what I call the "bad boyfriend" theory.
On my view, Trump supporters are neither stupid nor ill-informed, but they are angry, enraged even. And their rage is directed toward those they regard as the elites who run things, the "establishment", a term I kept hearing during the RNC convention this summer, a term I hadn't heard for almost 40 years. Hillary and her supporters are the establishment, to this crowd, so the rage targets her and them. And how do you express rage?
Here comes my bad boyfriend theory. Think of a young woman who wants to really hurt her parents. She's angry at them, for whatever reason. How does she get back at them?
She brings home a bad boyfriend---a really, really bad boyfriend. She brings home someone covered with prison tatoos, a drug dealer, someone with a serious criminal record. Her parents don't get upset enough? Okay, she'll escalate---she'll get pregnant by him. Now she'll show them.
Of course she knows this guy is dangerous, bad news. That's what makes him attractive to her. The worse he is, the more attractive he becomes, in her eyes, because the worse he is, the more she hurts her parents. So great is the daughter's rage, her desire to hit her parents where she can hurt them the most, she is willing to accept that her bad boyfriend is bad, even terrible news for her. She knows he will ruin her life, but she doesn't care, because at least she will be able to get her revenge. What she doesn't fully appreciate until she tries to emerge from the rubble of her life, is that she was the person most hurt by her rage.
If this theory is correct for at least some of the Trump supporters, the Clinton strategy of painting Trump as dangerous is self-defeating, since danger is what you want in a bad boyfriend. Much better to cast him as silly---a worn out clown is not bad boyfriend material.