Wednesday, March 02, 2016


Donald Trump is cruising to the Republican presidential nomination, and the Republican political establishment thinks the party is DOOMED, DOOOOOMED!
Democrats are falling in line. Republicans are falling apart....

“If the Republican Party were an airplane, and you were looking out a passenger window, you would see surface pieces peeling off and wonder if one of the wings or engines was next,” said Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota and a Republican candidate for president in 2012....

"I could not in good conscience vote for Trump under any circumstance,” said Blake Lichty, 33, a Republican who worked in the George W. Bush administration and now lives near Atlanta.

“If this becomes the Trump Party,” he added, “we’re going to lose a lot of people.”

... “President Trump, which I don’t believe is possible, would be an unmitigated disaster and would set the party back decades,” said Mike Murphy, a longtime Republican strategist who oversaw the “super PAC” that supported Jeb Bush this year. “It’s like a computer designed him to lose elections for us. Who does he offend? College-educated white women and Latinos, the groups we need to win.”

... For now, the revulsion for Mr. Trump could produce a nightmare scenario for Republicans on Election Day: abandonment by rank-and-file voters who, like a growing number of party leaders, cannot stomach the concept of the mogul as their standard-bearer. “I think it’s a sad day for the Republican Party,” said David Phillips, 72, an executive recruiter and longtime Republican from Avon, Conn., who called Mr. Trump “a tremendous divider.”

“If he were the nominee,” he said, reluctantly, “I would probably vote for Hillary.”
The Democratic response? What are you guys so gloomy about? We might be doomed, not you.
“It’s fair to say there’s been a graveyard already out there of people underestimating him,” said Doug Sosnik, a former Bill Clinton White House adviser. “And I am old enough to remember the sort of Democratic intelligentsia that was hoping Ronald Reagan would be nominated by Republicans in 1980 because everyone knew he was a doddering old right winger who could never get elected president.”

... Tracy Sefl, a Democratic consultant who was a senior adviser for Ready for Hillary, said Trump was the most dangerous Republican candidate to come out of the primary because he’s “unpredictable, shameless, unapologetic” -- and utilizes a non-strategy strategy that has so far worked for him.

“He doesn’t do defense. He’s immune to any sort of fundamentals of campaigning. He’s just doing it his way,” she said....

“I think Trump could beat her like a tied-up billy goat,” said Mudcat Saunders, a rural Democratic strategist who’s supporting Bernie Sanders. “There are many areas in key swing states like Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that look like Sherman went through and didn’t burn anything. Empty factories, empty buildings, few opportunities for young people. It’s sad. It should be no surprise to anybody that voters in those areas are gravitating to Trump.”

... ““Any place that has had manufacturing job declines, they’re very sensitive to immigration, they’re very sensitive to policies that they believe favor corporations and not them,” said Chicago Democratic operative Tom Bowen, a Rahm Emanuel political alum. “I do wonder if there’s some level of white voter that hasn’t come out in the past, a guy like Romney they thought was outsourcing their job, whereas a guy like Trump, they might actually believe that he’ll slap tariffs on Chinese imports and Mexican imports.”

... “We have a tendency to underestimate non-traditional candidates,” said a Democratic strategist who does work for the DNC but not the Clinton campaign. “Jesse Ventura got elected governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected governor. These were non-political figures that had a resonant political message at a certain time in history and they found an audience.”
I really can't tell which side is right. How many angry, conservative white people will Trump turn out in his favor -- and how many motivated liberals, insulted non-whites, and appalled moderates will he inspire to vote against him? I just don't know.

I wonder whether establishment Republicans are just making a show of outrage. Maybe they want more than one flavor of Republicanism out there, so suburban moderates (and maybe some non-whites!) will agree with the establishment and vote Republican downballot, while angry Trumpites will agree with Trump and also vote for Republicans downballot. It's win-win!

Or maybe they sincerely think general-election voters won't vote for Trump, and are legitimately frightened. But they thought primary voters wouldn't vote for Trump, so why should we trust their judgment?

Meanwhile, it's been noticed that Trump is trying to tone things down a bit:
After a slew of primary victories on Super Tuesday, Donald Trump held a press conference in which he gave himself some more wiggle room on the issue of deporting undocumented immigrants from this country.

Here's a transcript of the reporter's question and the GOP front-runner's answer, from West Palm Beach, Florida:
REPORTER: Would you consider allowing the people you've said you would bring back into the country, would you allow them to stay in the country, without having them leave the country first?

TRUMP: At this moment, absolutely not. We either have a country or we don't. We either have a country or we don't. We have borders or we don't have borders. And at this moment, the answer is absolutely not.
Yeah, he said "at this moment" twice, as if he's planning to back away from the mass deportations. But if he moderates his views in a general election campaign, will the angry voters stick with him? Especially the ones who rarely vote and are turning out in the primaries only because he's been talking like an extremist? If he stops giving them red meat, will they stay home in November?

Needle-threading is hard. Richard Nixon did it in 1968, appealing to the establishment one day and the George Wallace crowd the next. But he was shrewd and had spent a couple of decades in politics. Trump is a neophyte who's going by his gut.

I don't know how this will turn out. But the establishments of both parties seem to be afraid of Trump.


AllieG said...

There should be a GEICO ad with the punchline "If you're a Democrat, you fret. It's what you do."

Chris Andersen said...

Nixon also had the advantage of there being no internet to hold all the videos of him pandering to radically different crowds.

I'm actually glad that Democrats aren't taking the threat of Trump lightly. Maybe the GOP could have stopped him if they had treated him seriously from the beginning. I somehow doubt it since the formula by which Trump is winning has been baked into the GOP cake for decades. You don't change that in less than a year.

Victor said...

I don't know either.

All I know, is that I wish I had $1.00 for everone today who says they won't ever vote for Trump, but do!

Feud Turgidson said...

Nixon lost in 1960, barely, by 0.7%; then won in 1968, by not much, only 400,000 more votes than he lost by in 1960; and won in 1972, by a landslide, which he didn't survive.

IMO that suggests the word "shrewd" here is pulling a lot of freight that more accurately is creditable to "calculating".

Knight of Nothing said...

Three thoughts:

1) Having lived through the Ventura administration here in Minnesota, and having witnessed the installment of the Governator in California, I am quite certain that 'President Trump' is possible. Way too many people are entertained by celebrity candidates. Remember, 50% of the people are below average.

2) I'm in the camp that believes that Trump might be the least-bad Republican candidate this year (and that's really saying something, because he is of course awful).

3) What worries me most about Trump is that I think if he wins the nomination, it increases the chances of a third-party candidate, who would be as likely to draw votes away from Clinton as Trump.

biz5th said...

A third party candidate is almost a sure thing. Candidate Ted Cruz of the Constitutional Party wouldn't have to win in the Electoral College, he would just have to make sure neither Trump nor Clinton does.

The House of Representatives would elect him President.

petrilli said...

I know it's Trump, but still, language should matter.
"At this moment, absolutely not."
What does that mean? an absolute is impossible in that context. I'm surprised he didn't say, "very absolutely not." Trumpspeak uses the word very, very very often.

Feud Turgidson said...

Beyond all argument, this is the single most important thing to bear constantly in mind about pre-election polling of US presidential elections, particularly during the general, and, IMO, worthy of finding constantly new creative ways to remind voters of it:

A pre-election presidential poll is a snapshot still-life depiction of the gross distribution over, at best, a possibly arguably representative sample of the total of some number of individual's inherently unstable perceptions enlisted into predicting their feelings off into some future time of a necessarily dynamical and materially unknowable context.

You could write a book on that premise. I know of hundreds written on lesser premises, with even less certainty, or significance, or both.

Drumpf could win on no more compelling basis than on who won in 1960, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2000 and 2004.

Those 6 p-elections constitute well over ONE THIRD of the p-elections in my lifetime.

It's almost the same ration for the p-elections since I turned voting age.

Now ... of those 6 p-elections since 1944 that were close enough to be essentially decided by some combination of distributional fluke, election fraud &/or theft, local &/or state government shenanigans, judicial chicanery, and freaking emotional WHIM, only 2 - only ONE THIRD - were won by the D nominee.

IOW ... since WWII, whenever a presidential election has been close enough for factors BEYOND what may reasonably be allocated to the will of the people and the consent of the governed, TWO THIRDS of the time, the Republican nom has won.

And from those two thirds - those 4 R wins in what have effectively been the 6 too-close-to-pre-call p-elections since WWII, America received the following legacies.

From 1968:
1. the Southern Strategy
2. Watergate
From 1980:
3. Iran-Contra
4. Supply side Reaganomics
From 2000:
5. materially increased risk of the risk of 9/11 going unaddressed
6. the Bush Tax Cuts
7. invasion of Iraq,
8. Gitmo Justice
9. SCOTUS Justice Sam Alito
10. the Roberts Court
11. the financial collapse of 2008
12. the worldwide Great Recession.

By way of contrast, in ONLY ONE of 11 p-elections since WWII where the nominee of one major party has clearly been elected by the people and received a mandate that included the unquestioned consent of the governed, has there been a truly objectively bad outcome for the country: 1984 -

when We The Peeps came together in agreement to entrust the fate our collective experiment AGAIN to a brain-dead ham-acting incompetent, while administering a thorough-going shit-kicking ball-stomping beat-down to a proven able statesman & fine person, Walter Mondale.

Tom Hilton said...

First of all, Mudcat Saunders can kiss my Yankee ass.

Second, I think probably the massive revulsion of African-American and Latino and Muslim voters will be reflected in big registration and turnout numbers that outweigh Trump's racialized appeals. Which

Third, vindicates Clinton's strategy of going all in on the party base (i.e., African-American and Latino voters) from the very start. And

Fourth, makes Sanders' neglect of and/or incompetent outreach to those voters look incredibly foolish. (I mean, more foolish than the primary results make them look.) His whole general election strategy was based on chasing the ever-elusive White Working Class voters, while taking the party base for granted. That would have been catastrophic.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

There is a crucial distinction between what the Reps and Dems are saying. What the Dems are saying is normal, essentially "don't be overconfident because Trump's a clown, we need every vote to win".

If the Reps were saying "Hillary can turn out the brown and black voters and demographics give her an advantage so we need every vote" that would be normal and neither of these statements means anything.

But when once side says "Our candidate is a fucking joke and I would rather see Hillary in office than vote for Trump", wow, that means something.

Ten Bears said...

How Republican of you.

Blackstone said...

A 3rd party candidate needs to be organized by April otherwise will not be on the ballot in Texas among other states. The longer a 3rd party candidate waits, the less states s/he can run in. This also means the short fingered vulgarian's threats to run as an independent are as bout as likely as building a yuge wall and making Mexico pay for it

Gerald Parks said...

I don't think for one minute that the GOP/Republican leadership will NOT support their current front runner!

The white supremacist aka KKK worn hoods for a reason ...they did not want outsiders to know who they are ...the GOP/Republican "establishment" are upset BECAUSE their front runner has whipped off the hood ... they still believe govern and agree with their front runner!

The GOP/Republican's will dance with the one that brung them to the dance!

Philo Vaihinger said...

Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and the whole set of paleocons and neo-Confederates are not Democrats.

They are gleefully sacrificing the central goal of Wall Street, neoliberal conservatism, destroying Big Government and entitlement programs, to achieve their own longtime major aims regarding immigration, trade, and non-intervention.

They might see it as a long shot, but all of them will remember that after the failure of Goldwater came the triumph of Reagan that established long-term control of the GOP by the movement conservatives.

They imagine long term control of the GOP by the spiritual heirs of Sam Francis, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchanan can be a long term triumph in American politics.

Personally, I think it would plunge the GOP into deeper isolation and eventual extinction.

But the prospect is scary, all the same.

Knight of Nothing said...

@Blackstone - good point: the window is rapidly closing. Since the campaign has been going on for an eternity, I had lost sight of that essential fact.

Doug said...

The GOP has been saying the things that Trump says for at least 40 years, and doing worse, but only now are people on both sides seriously getting busy tearing their hair out. I suppose the GOP establishment is scared because he doesn't truckle to them, and seems to have some semi liberal positions. But what's up with liberals? Are they just catching on? Is it his style that sets people off? That they can't pretend it's just policy and politics and we'll all just talk it out? In what way is he worse than Rubio? Cruz? Even Kaisich?