Conservative airwaves aid Trump's rise

Some popular hosts who were previously supportive of Mr. Trump are turning on him. Sean Hannity, a Fox News host who also has a radio show, called Mr. Trump a shot of adrenaline to the Republican field when he joined the race, and defended his comments about immigrants. But the gambit against Mr. McCain was a step too far for Mr. Hannity, who said on Monday that smearing the senator’s time in captivity made him cringe.

“You’ve got to think broader than the base of your party if you want to win elections,” Mr. Hannity said, urging Mr. Trump to apologize.

According to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, much of Mr. Trump’s draw lies in his bluntness, a characteristic that also draws conservative listeners to talk radio hosts. The candidate is breaking what scholars call the “spiral of silence” and is validating voters who hold views that are widely considered politically incorrect. And the fact that party elites seem to loathe him only adds to the appeal.

“There’s an attraction to someone who seems to be standing up to all the elites that you despise,” she said, explaining why some voters might find Trump’s candidacy appealing. “Sometimes it isn’t what they are standing for, it’s how they are standing.”