Friday, December 04, 2015


Because millionaire pundits pay no penalty when they're spectacularly wrong, David Brooks feels free to go out on a limb:
No, Donald Trump Won’t Win

... When campaigns enter that final month, voters tend to gravitate toward the person who seems most orderly. As the primary season advances, voters’ tolerance for risk declines. They focus on the potential downsides of each contender and wonder, Could this person make things even worse?

When this mental shift happens, I suspect Trump will slide....

The voting booth focuses the mind. The experience is no longer about self-expression and feeling good in the moment. It’s about the finger on the nuclear trigger for the next four years.
But as we learn from a new poll -- and this is not the first time we've heard this -- voters think Donald Trump is precisely the person they want with his "finger on the nuclear trigger" and tackling most other critical issues:
Donald Trump is the top choice of more than one out of every three Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters, according to the results of a new CNN/ORC poll released Friday. And it's not even close -- at 36 percent, Trump's closest competitor for the GOP presidential nomination is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, at 16 percent.

Ben Carson, who finished second in the October CNN/ORC poll, fell to third this time with 14 percent....

Regardless of whom they plan to vote for, majorities or pluralities said Trump is best qualified to tackle issues related to the economy (55 percent, with Cruz next closest at 9 percent), illegal immigration (48 percent to Rubio's 14 percent), foreign policy (30 percent to Cruz's 17 percent), the Islamic State (46 percent to Cruz's 15 percent) and the federal budget (51 percent to Cruz's 10 percent).
(Emphasis added.)

Brooks begins his column with an absurd interior-decorating metaphor:
A little while ago I went rug shopping. Four rugs were laid out on the floor and among them was one with a pink motif that was dazzlingly beautiful. It was complex and sophisticated. If you had asked me at that moment which rug I wanted, I would have said the pink one.

This conviction lasted about five minutes. But then my mentality flipped and I started asking some questions. Would the furniture go with this rug? Would this rug clash with the wall hangings? Would I get tired of its electric vibrancy?

Suddenly a subtler and more prosaic blue rug grabbed center stage. The rugs had not changed, but suddenly I wanted the blue rug. The pink rug had done an excellent job of being eye-popping on its own. The blue rug was doing an excellent job of being a rug I could enjoy living with.

For many Republicans, Donald Trump is their pink rug. He does the job that they want done at this moment. He reflects their disgust with the political establishment. He gives them the pleasurable sensation that somebody can come to Washington, kick some tail and shake things up.
Beyond the fact that the typical Republican voter doesn't share Brooks's preference for the tasteful and understated, there's the fact that Republican voters worship a man who called for a party with "no pale pastels." Here's what Ronald Reagan said in his speech to CPAC in 1975:
Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?
Republican voters love that "no pale pastels" quote. They post it on Pinterest boards. They name themselves after it on Twitter.

Ted Cruz has tried to hijack the quote. You can buy A T-shirt that reads, "Ted Cruz: Bold Colors, No Pale Pastels." And Cruz is in second place.

But Trump is perceived by the base as both the "no pale pastels" guy and (to use the word Brooks uses) as "orderly." He's succeeded in business. How could he do that if he's not "orderly"? That's what the base is thinking.

I don't see Trump fading. Brooks, following Nate Silver, argues that the race is still volatile, and will be until February, when the voting starts. But wht's happening is that the expected volatility has been limited to the competition for second place. It was going to be Carson, now it seems as if it's going to be Cruz, and maybe it'll ultimately be Rubio.

But there's no volatility at the top. Trump is the voters' favorite rug.


Professor Fate said...

Oh dear what a whistling past the graveyard we have here - "Once the Goths stop looting Rome they will settle down and decide on a proper Roman Emperor, not this Attila fellow they all seem so hepped up about" (Yes I know that's not historically accurate but neither is Brooks most of the time.)

mlbxxxxxx said...

It feels weird, but I gotta go with Brooks on this one. I do not believe in the Trump Phenomenon. Wish I could but I do not trust these polls. People (Nate Silver) who make their living off polls don't trust these polls. There are some 27% of Republicans who will believe any conspiracy and follow any nasty wackjob who smiles at them. That's a pretty firm base for someone like Trump to look like a threat. Wake me up after Iowa. There's plenty of time to get excited then.

Still think Trump is our best option, though. Just don't think he's going to last. I do think he's doing a serviceable job of crashing the GOP against the rocks. It's odd to me how upsetting that seems to be to a lot of liberals.

swkellogg said...

At this point the only value of a Brooks column (if there ever was one) is as a case study of the psychopathology of the bubble within a bubble Republicanism that the dwindling pool of non-fuckwit R's must engage in order to justify their continued affiliation with a party that has lost its collective mind.

Unknown said...

"People (Nate Silver) who make their living off polls don't trust these polls."

Quite apart from the fact that there are also people (Sam Wang) in academic settings who do poll analysis better, explain it better, and decline to annoint it in anything like Silver's Special L'Huile de Serpent Sauce (which supposedly 'adjusts for immutables', or makes you feel more committed to the concept you just got more 'value', or more generally to game it into SEEMING more 'credible' for the slippery mystique, or maybe just because a sucker was just born and another and again and look and another ...), Silver himself wouldn't say 'don't trust these polls' because he never sez 'TRUST these polls' in the first place.

ALL the most credible and reliable polling analysis is done off aggregation of large numbers of polls sampling differently, so many in fact that their sheer number largely overtakes tne need for any given individual poll to have been conducted competently, honestly or independently. But at this stage of the POTUS-picking process, we are not there yet: there are too few polls, which makes the individual biases of those present too strong, and those present are so few what we're 'learning' about is the same few being repeatedly sampled on behalf of the many haven't moved much.

What's not to 'trust' about that? That's what happened to a lesser extent in 2012, and even lesser in 2008: until we get a LOT of polls, it's the few, the weak, the limited value. But that doesn't make them somehow 'untrustworthy' for what they are categorically.

And what each is categorically is a hunk of meat to be shoved into the aggregation machine to make 'delicious nutritious' and categorically less suspicious PERCENTAGE sausage slurry, not PREDICTIVE pizza topping.

We go thru this every cycle; people saying things about polls and the process that pollsters and analysts never claim for them.

Four Bs said...

I haven't paid my daily visit to Charles Pierce's blog yet, but I have a feeling there's going to be something about Moral Hazard and a blue or pink rug.

Rand Careaga said...

Yeah, that rug wasn't pink or blue, it was 14K gold Bobo, and if Charlie Pierce has a hair on his ass, he'll see to it that Moral Hazard pisses all over the damn rug. Ordinarily you need to go to Maureen Dowd at the NYT for metaphors that fatuous. Or to Peggy Noonan at the WSJ if you want a touch of surrealism added to your triteness with a vodka back.

Unknown said...

So Trump 36% plus Cruz 16% = fascists 52%, plus Carson 14% = two thirds of the GOP favor non-messianic self-funding celebrity billionaire crypto fascism, messianic third party billionaire funded actual fascism, or celebrity messianic grifto-magi - yet somehow the 'smart money' is on the guy in FOURTH place, yet to be backed in any poll by as many as one party faithful in ten, because he's (1) relatively way less scary to the party's establishment a few couch fainters than any of the leading three, the lead dog of which is kicking dog #4's rump by 3:1 BY HIMSELF, and (2) "....".

I like this as way more real: assuming #3 and all the minnows exit at some point in the bathing suit, uhm, primary voting portion of proceedings, it's 56% Trump, 25% Cruz, 19% Rubio, and 81% most likely fascist.

Victor said...

Nooner's and Bobo in one day!

You need a sedative or two... or six - and wash that down with a fifth of 100 proof vodka.
Oh, and do that near, or sitting on, a bed, so you won't hurt yourself when you fall.

The pink or the blue rug?
Oh, will these travails for the pundit class never end?

Steve M. said...

So Trump 36% plus Cruz 16% = fascists 52%, plus Carson 14% = two thirds of the GOP favor non-messianic self-funding celebrity billionaire crypto fascism, messianic third party billionaire funded actual fascism, or celebrity messianic grifto-magi - yet somehow the 'smart money' is on the guy in FOURTH place...?

The latest conventional wisdom seems to be that the guy in seventh place, Chris Christie, is "making his move." He's at 2.8% in the RCP poll average, Trump is at 30.8%, but he's going to beat Trump, you betcha!

Tom Hilton said...

In response to Brooks and Silver, I'll just refer again to that Luntz-led focus group in which "Trump supporters looked at almost every potential negative about the billionaire celebrity real estate tycoon candidate and viewed it as a positive." That doesn't promise a whole lot of volatility in Trump's support.

Ule Amra said...

Tom Hilton said: "Trump supporters looked at almost every potential negative about the billionaire celebrity real estate tycoon candidate and viewed it as a positive." That doesn't promise a whole lot of volatility in Trump's support.
No, but it says nothing about that support growing, which seems unlikely. While predictions that Trump will soon have much LESS support are debatable, predictions that he will soon have much MORE support seem preposterous. He keeps selling to the sold, which might make them happy, but isn't making his tent any bigger.

Republicans that can look past their own gut feelings know two important things about Trump in a general election. If he tops the GOP ticket, the GOP will lose badly. If he runs as an independent, the GOP will lose badly. Those realities put a hard ceiling on his support, and I doubt that ceiling will be high enough to carry him to the nomination. How he'll react to that is hard to predict, as has everything about this bizarre candidacy.

Steve M. said...

Republicans that can look past their own gut feelings

Are there any these days? Twenty years of Fox have taught them that it's all about their feelings and their grievances.

Steve M. said...

And as for that "ceiling" idea regarding Trump's support, see this.

Ten Bears said...

Six months ago I was amused, now I'm looking at my meager Y2K store and thinking it's in need of an update. More ammo for sure, before it sells out.

Whither or no this is the best idea Bill ever had is moot in the generally accepted vernacular as the longer this goes on the tighter Hillary's lock on both the nomination and the presidency. I'm not going feel the least bit wtf-ever about "throwing my vote away" on a green or labor candidate who actually represents my and my grandchildren's interests.

Unknown said...

Hayzeus fracking crisco, Steve M., I KNOW I read that whole article when it came out but that part with the Trump-Bottleboy theoretical whap-down just didn't sink in, apparently.

Oh well, at least it doesn't do anything to harm my overall prediction of the two big bullyboy fascisti bossing this process on the contestants side at least.