Chet -- Long before Donald Trump came on the political scene, I also made reference to Dr. Bob Altemeyer's acclaimed online book, The Authoritarians. Dr. Altemeyer now has a website called The Authoritarians, in which his lead article published on July 18, 2016, Donald Trump and Authoritarian Followers gives an insight into the people who are Trump supporters. I referenced it before in this website. As Altemeyer writes,
"It’s been noted that if 25% of the American population is always ready to vote for a dictator, that’s half-way to a majority. If the “right” kind of crisis comes along, it could create enough newly panicked citizens to vote a tyrant into office who would overthrow the Constitution, the rule of law, you name it."
You can call it whatever you like...charisma, charm, infatuation, allure, magnetism, or something else, but it is a fact that certain people, the authoritarian followers, are indeed attracted to Trump's political incorrectness. Many of them have worldviews similar to Trump when it comes to Muslims, women, different races, and ethnicities...the bigots of this world.
That includes that guy at the Trump rally in Florida who has a cardboard cutout of Trump that he salutes every morning when he gets out of bed. That guy didn't say if it was a traditional salute or an arm out salute, Nazi style. Yeah, that guy might say Trump has charisma too.
Then there are the Christian right evangelicals who voted overwhelmingly for him, not because he had any charismatic messiah like qualities but simply because he chose Mike Pence as his running mate and promised also to select a Supreme Court judge who will overthrow Roe v. Wade. Simple as that.
And when journalists go into the Rust Belt to check on why they voted for Trump, you'll get another reason from the angry white voters who feel society is changing too fast and leaving them behind:
Washington Post: Here’s the real reason Rust Belt cities and towns voted for Trump
Rounding out those demographics you'll find the corporate "Jeb Bush" Republicans and the other millionaires and billionaires who have nothing but disdain for Trump and his antics, but continue to enable him in order to get their own agenda passed while they enjoy a majority in both houses of Congress and can control the president's vote because he is so ignorant of the nuances of legislation.
Finally, there were the tribal Republicans and Rednecks "who ain't going to vote for no fuckin' liberal no how" no matter how much they disagree with Trump. Add to that the Hillary haters including some Bernie Sanders supporters who switched parties and voted for Trump because of hate for Hillary...or didn't vote at all.
Altemeyer's sums them all up in one paragraph. His views reflect the views of many other professionals in his field:
"I don’t think you can change the minds of many Trump supporters. Winning fact-driven discussions about the man and the issues will likely make them more defensive. Their connection with their leader is not rational but emotional. It’s based on fear that he fans and anger that he channels. The ideas in the campaign just float around in the Atmosphere of Indifference, quite ignored by his followers. That’s why Trump can contradict himself so often, and say so many outrageous things, with no effect on his followers’ support. He is likely more vulnerable to emotional backlash among his followers when he does something horrendous than to intellectual rejection when he lies or says something stupid."
As far as "charisma" is concerned, I certainly do understand what it looks like. Barack and Michelle Obama have it...that certain magnetism that for some of us resonates as they walk into a room or on the stage. Now I also will admit that, "charisma" is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people like Ted Nugent see the Obama as a "Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel." So no, for Nugent and his ilk, Obama doesn't have charisma and neither does Michelle. Just browse the many comments about both of them over the past eight years and you'll find some of the most hateful comments ever written about a president.
Some of those same people will treat Trump like he is a messiah. He can indeed shoot someone, and they'll still support him. Thankfully they are a small minority of Americans.