Amid a crowd of anti-Trump protesters, the Republican real-estate magnate hosted "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. Starting off the show being called a “racist” by Larry David in his opening monologue, Trump may regret hosting, as we see the fallout of a less-than-average performance.
Hosting "SNL" for the second time, Trump probably hoped his appearance would both increase his likability among voters and appeal to a larger audience. Preliminary TV ratings were definitely very good, a three-year high for "SNL," the best since Charles Barkley hosted in 2012.
The odds for a candidate vying for the nation’s top job after hosting "SNL" are not great. Former candidates for president have hosted the show before their respective elections and none has won the White House.
Barack Obama appeared on "SNL" as a guest, not a host, before his 2008 election win. Similarly, Hillary Clinton has made a guest appearance this cycle. Presidential candidates that have actually hosted the show include John McCain, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rudy Giuliani and Ralph Nader.
All had certain likability or name recognition issues to contend with on the national stage.
Trump doesn’t have a name-recognition issue, but he definitely has a likability problem.
In a recent Quinnipiac poll last week (discussed in last Friday’s column), he came top of the Republican field in the someone-you-would-definitely-not-vote-for category, with 25% of voters checking his name. Whether his performance improves the way he is perceived among voters is not yet known, but it probably won’t.
If anything, this weekend’s "SNL" could make the race more difficult for Trump. None of the skits were laugh-out-loud funny, except for a couple he wasn’t in. Once the stories of his disagreement with "SNL" writers and pulling the plug on less-than-friendly skits comes to light, voters could be additionally turned off.
Do candidates need to become comics, singers and dancers to prove to the electorate that they are qualified to become President of the United States? Apparently, campaign staffers seem to think so.