"We have come to believe that a Donald Trump candidacy is viable," the distinctly anti-Trump and lamentably anonymous writer began. Four percent of Americans most wished that Trump had run, and "not too many of those, we like to think, said that just so they could pull up chairs to hoot and hiss." This was shortly after the release of "The Art of the Deal," a book that was at that time "littering the country's book supermarkets" (and, as I recall, its actual supermarkets, too).
Mind you, Trump wasn't the most popular pick; of the candidates listed, Trump beat out only one other name: this guy "Joe Biden" who was from Maryland or something. The most popular name was Gary Hart, who'd run in 1984 and planned to run again in 1988, until his extramarital dalliances became public. Next on the list was Mario Cuomo, then governor of New York (and father to the state's current governor). After that, Bill Bradley, who wouldn't run for another 12 years, briefly offering a challenge to the ascendancy of Al Gore. A plurality of respondents in that 1988 poll, by the way, weren't pining for anyone in particular.
Spy included a breakdown by age, which we'd be remiss if we didn't share. Trump was most popular among those aged 25 to 34 -- people now aged 53 to 62. That's a group that in the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll favored Trump over Hillary Clinton by 8 percentage points.
That's not the only echo of the current race. "[I]n terms of level of education," Spy wrote, "the voters who most favored a Trump candidacy -- with a 9% rating -- were those whose minds remain uncluttered by any learning beyond junior high school." And he had fans "even in the South" -- a region he won in the primaries by big margins.
We can't vouch for the methodology here, but it seems likely that this wasn't just a survey of Spy readers. A letter to the editor in the same issue, after all, noted that, "I have absolutely no idea who Donald Trump, Tama Janowitz, the Filofax Generation et. al. are, and (thanks to Spy) I am relieved at never having to find out." (Janowitz was the then-hip author of "Slaves of New York." I have no idea what the Filofax Generation is.)
Of all of the nuggets in that Spy item, though, none resonates more than the conclusion. Emphasis comes straight from the original.
"[W]ho can deny the probability of a growing snowball of support criss-crossing the nation?" the author asked. "One last thing: this is one candidate who will not let you down. After all, we already have Donald Trump's personal guarantee that if he did run for president, he would win."
The more things change.