Thursday, December 10, 2015


I mock Chuck Todd here on a regular basis, but he and his crew at NBC's First Read may not be delusional when they argue that some Republicans might prefer a Trump third-party run, if the alternative is Trump at the top of the GOP ticket.

Here's what Todd's crew says might happen:
Republicans face this choice 50-plus days until Iowa: Do they fight Trump? Or do they surrender? According to the Republicans who are in charge of retaining control of the House and Senate, they are looking to fight. (Cleveland, here we come?)
So they're going to fight Trump all the way to the convention? That's what Todd & Co. say. They quote congressmen from the National Republican Congressional Committee making the standard argument: that Trump at the top of the ticket will cost them seats in Congress.

But wouldn't driving Trump up out of the party guarantee a loss of the presidency? Sure -- but for Republicans there might be a silver lining:
Our prediction: The Republican Party will not surrender and let Trump be its nominee without a protracted fight.... While none of these folks in charge of winning House/Senate elections want Trump at the top of the GOP ticket, many MIGHT welcome a Trump independent candidacy. Why? It might giftwrap the presidency for the Democrats, but it would potentially bring more right-leaning folks to the polls, and there aren't many three-way races down the ballot. Could a Trump indie candidacy save the Senate for the GOP? Something to ponder.
Did some congressional Republicans give Todd or one of his subordinates this idea? Or did Todd and the Gang cook it up themselves? Either way, it's not crazy. Republicans are always playing a long game, and we know they'll cede an election if that seems to be their best alternative. (Remember that Joe Lieberman's GOP opponent went all but invisible during the 2006 general election campaign in Connecticut, presumably because Republicans knew their guy was certain to lose and in that case they wanted Lieberman to win.)

So if polling shows that Trump would lose the general election as a Republican and hurt Republicans downballot, would the party will find a way to kick him out at (or just before) the convention, absorb the presidential loss that seemed inevitable anyway, and hope for increased right-wing turnout? Maybe, maybe not. But that would be consistent with the right's messaging strategy for many years -- watch Fox, read right-wing websites, listen to talk radio, and you know that the conservative movement deploys crazy extremists to maintain loyalty among the angrier voters, then sends out "responsible" Republicans (on Sunday-morning talk shows, for instance) to offer a lite, non-threatening Republicanism for whoever wants that. There's a product for all market niches. So maybe that'll be the strategy in 2016.


mlbxxxxxx said...

What exactly is the mechanism by which the party can "kick him out?" I see the down ballot threat from a Trump 3rd party run but I do not see how the GOP can ensure that he runs 3rd party. I guess they could do something draconian like removing his name from the primary ballots but I imagine a judge would be happy to stop something like that. I'm not saying there won't be a Trump 3rd party run, just I don't see how the GOP engineers it. Seems to me it will happen, if it does, more or less organically if Trump is unable to break through in the primaries but continues to have a durable and sizable base of support. He might then think he'd be better off going his own way.

Unknown said...

To the question in the post's headline: Maybe, but if so, only some, and with trepidation.

This is genie-out-of-the-bottle territory (It's here, it's here, let the dumbells ring out and the campaign banners fly, avert all eyes, it's too awful to contemplate, but it's here.). And just like Bugs & later the sultan with that genie with the generic American grifter voice in A Lad And His Lamp, it's really not such a predictable thing that's being bandied about.

Seems to me that a lot of Indy Trump voters will also feel motivated to hurt their party for denying him the nomination, and so may also deliberately skip any part of the ballot that doesn't have "TRUMP" on it, or worse: sabotage Republican ticket candidates right on down the ballot. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad for the GOP if Cruz ends up the nominee, but I can actually foresee Cruz going all "principled" and rejecting the nomination unless the party 'squared things up with Donald Trump'. And maybe this would be apocalyptic for the GOP if Rubio ends up the nominee, because then Cruz would do some hedging and not in any way discourage Trump supporters from 'making their views known'.

As a strategy, this is luck having just enough money left over to pay the rent but then choosing to blow it all on cornering the local corner store's supply of PowerBall tickets: it COULD work out GREAT, but OTOH ...

Gerald Lillpop said...

OK if Trump will bring out more conservatives as a third party candidate it’s only logical that he would do the same as the Republican nominee. What’s different about Trump as a republican or independent to his followers? The people who vote for Trump will vote for the republicans on the down ticket ballots whether he is running as a republican or independent so if Trump helps down ballot as an independent he helps as the nominee as well.

Steve M. said...

Todd's theory is that Trump is bringing a lot of new people into the electorate. My theory is that they're f the same old conservatives, but some of them may not have bestirred themselves to vote for McCain or Romney.

And it doesn't have to be the right strategy -- it just has to be a strategy the GOP Establishment thinks is the right strategy.

BKT said...

I think the fear of establishment Party apparatchiks is that Trump as the official GOP nominee scares off any lingering independent voters who might be on the fence about supporting a Republican presidential candidate with his crackpot extremism. Or that's the message they want America to believe: "We Republicans aren't openly racist, ignorant, totalitarian screamers-- it's just that one guy! We can't help it that he calls himself a Republican!" That their GOP voters overwhelmingly embrace what he says is conveniently omitted...

But this assumes that such creatures as undecided "independent" voters actually exist, and most polls show that they comprise less than 5% of the national electorate, so it's unlikely to really make any difference in the presidential race, anyway.

I agree with Gerald, though-- Trump as the GOP nominee or Trump on his own will have the same effect on down-ballot races.

Charon04 said...

Are there not "sore loser" laws in most non-Connecticut states that prevent general election ballot access to independents who had lost a major party primary campaign? Lieberman was an abberation, no?

Trump can not run in GOP primarys and then run Independent in the general election (in most states) if so.

Ten Bears said...

I am still not entirely unconvinced but what Trump's intent is to do whatever it takes to get Hillary elected. The Retards have darned good reason to be concerned unless, of course, they are playing a long game. Though when calculating how rapidly the population and social mores (not mention response to the climate crisis) are evolving I don't see how it can be anything more than the same old losing game.

Victor said...

All of the above.
"What evil lurks in the heart of man?..."

None of us knows diddly-squat!
Not even... "The Shadow Knows..."

Grung_e_Gene said...

Watch Teabagging NH State Rep Susan DeLumas lie and proclaim she was never involved or interested in politics until Donald Trump came along and said what she is thinking.

Conservatives are all in on taking American back to a White Power Nation and the question is will the Republican Party be able to unskew the polls and get someone else the nomination?

Steve M. said...

I was just writing about that -- though I'm hesitating because I'm not sure if she's saying she was never interested in politics or Trump was. At first I was sure it was the former, but now it seems ambiguous. (Link.)

Ten Bears said...

The Rude One is encouraging folks to post this great Photoshop he has over at his place of Donald t Rump in a virgin white golf cap that reads Make America White Again. It's priceless.