POLITICS

A Lot Of People Just Realized Donald Trump Could Become President

History shows that Americans pay more attention to presidential races after the primaries start.

"Oh my god, I just realized that Donald Trump could become the actual president," Fusion's Kevin Roose, who doesn't normally cover politics, wrote Tuesday night after Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary.

A lot of people had the same realization on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

(There are lots more tweets like this.) 

Polling from previous elections backs up the idea that a decent chunk of Americans are about to start paying more attention to the presidential race.

More people than usual were following this year's election even before the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, according to a January Gallup poll. (Republicans are more tuned in than Democrats, Gallup said.) But the percentage of Americans who say they're following politics tends to increase during the first few caucuses and primaries of a presidential year.

In 2008, for example, the percentage of Americans who said they were following the election at least "fairly closely" jumped 10 points after the start of the Iowa caucuses. That number continued to rise following the New Hampshire primaries, with 80 percent of respondents saying they were at least somewhat tuned in by the middle of February. 

Here's the problem: Although some voters start paying attention during and after the first few primaries, less than half of Americans pay "very close" attention to a race before the October of an election year, according to polling data.

By then, the nominees are selected and much of the organizing and fundraising that helps determine the outcome has already happened.

Some Americans are finally waking up to the possibility that a man who wants to ban all members of a religion from entering the U.S. could become president. The real question is how many of them will like that idea. 

Editor's Note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

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