Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I've been thinking that disruptive protests at Donald Trump rallies are counterproductive, but I wonder if they're sending a message to a certain other group of angry voters.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- In one of the presidential campaign year's more grisly spectacles, protesters in New Mexico opposing Donald Trump's candidacy threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, injuring several, and toppled trash cans and barricades.

Police responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

During the rally, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who shouted, held up banners and resisted removal by security officers.

The banners included the messages "Trump is Fascist" and "We've heard enough."
We keep being told that Clinton-hating Bernie Sanders supporters might pull the level for Trump this year. But maybe unrest at Trump rallies -- led by the usual Guy Fawkes mask-wearing agitators -- will convey the sense that no self-respecting "revolutionary" would back Trump.

I'm sure some Sanders supporters will vote for Trump. At Politico, Josh Zeitz reminds us that some supporters of Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and Ted Kennedy in 1980 actually weren't left-leaning, and ultimately voted, respectively, for George Wallace and Ronald Reagan.
While many of McCarthy’s supporters were genuinely opposed to the war in Vietnam, exit polls showed that a majority thought of themselves as hawks and voted against LBJ to register dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the war effort. Others were unhappy about skyrocketing inflation and urban unrest and simply wanted to register their discontent with the status quo. Lyndon Johnson’s private pollster found that 55 percent of McCarthy voters supported the conventional bombing campaign against North Vietnam, while only 29 percent opposed it....

Exit polls showed that roughly 18 percent of McCarthy’s primary voters ended up supporting Wallace.

... On election day [1980], some 27 percent of Edward Kennedy’s primary supporters cast their votes for Reagan.
But if there are Democratic primary voters like this in 2016, they'll be the more right-leaning voters, people who probably would have voted Republican in the general election in any case. (There were more of these voters in the Democratic Party in 1968 and even 1980 than there are today.)

I've been worried about self-defined progressives deciding that a Trump vote is a thumb in the eye to the hated Clinton. Unrest at Trump rallies might remind these folks who the real enemy is.

And if we're talking about 1968, let's remember that, after the Chicago convention, the Democrats seemed like the party that presided over chaos. If unrest continues to follow Trump, he'll be associated with chaos in the minds of a lot of moderate voters. That's not going to help him with those voters.

I'm not rooting for violence at Trump rallies. But if it continues to happen, it might be much more of a burden for Trump than it was in the primaries.


Never Ben Better said...

Unfortunately there's a segment of Sanders supporters who appear poised to recreate 1968 for the DNC:

Yeh, that will really galvanize the revolution, won't it?

Yastreblyansky said...

I had never heard that on the McCarthy and Kennedy support in 68 and 80, and it's very striking, especially in the context of what we learned in the Times on Monday, that only a minority of Sanders supporters favor the Sanders program--it's more popular among those who back Clinton:
they were less likely than Mrs. Clinton’s supporters to favor concrete policies that Mr. Sanders has offered as remedies for these ills, including a higher minimum wage, increasing government spending on health care and an expansion of government services financed by higher taxes. It is quite a stretch to view these people as the vanguard of a new, social-democratic-trending Democratic Party.
It's really kind of unnerving.

Steve M. said...

Yeah, NBB, that could get ugly. On the other hand, the media generally ignores convention protests if they're contained -- 1,800 people got arrested at the Republican convention in '04, but only activists noticed, because there was a press blackout. If order is maintained (I hope not in a heavy-handed way), it'll probably be a non-story outside progressive circles. Then we get to see which candidate's rallies experience unrest. I think it'll be just Trump's. (The Bernie-or Busters seem not to have gone so far as to try to start riots at Hillary rallies.)

And yes, Yastreblyansky, the Zeitz piece at Politico also brings up those survey results.

Ernest Lamonica said...

I was for Ted Kennedy but when he wasted time I supported McCarthy. As I have said here previously lots of those folks would up voting for Reagan. As for Bernie Bots I have always said ands still believe 25% of them are GOP plants.

Marc McKenzie said...

@Never Ben Better : Yeesh. Reading this certainly filled me with dread. And comments like this:

Thank you. Real democracy is marching, tweeting, speaking out against establishment Democrats. Let the Republicans have the voting booth. We will be heard!

...make me wonder if these people have any idea what democracy entails and just how important voting really is--or how many people have sacrificed so much to ensure that right that they so casually want to toss away.

Madmen, all of them.

Never Ben Better said...

Well, based on the commenting history of the person, I know it was snark, not earnest. But the fact that one could read it as serious -- and, in some cases, be quite correct -- is indeed disturbing. One of the offered links in the piece is to some idiot threatening to lead a deregistration drive if St. Bernie isn't handed the nomination -- that'll show the corrupt DNC!

I swear to Og, the far right aren't the only people living in an ideologically blinkered alternative reality.

KenRight said...

The "real enemy" then can be decided by minority racists, who can cause chaos and the Majority soon to be minority prefers stability to chaos, at least in decisive numbers? That's some call out!

KenRight said...

"stability" might should read appeasement.

Ten Bears said...

"[T]he far right aren't the only people living in an ideologically blinkered alternative reality." Heh, indeed.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

I think you're exactly right on this, Steve. It underscores my hope that wiser heads prevail in the Clinton campaign than the Wasserman-Schultz faction, who responded overly quickly with posturing and calling in a ridiculous "show of force" at the NV convention by chest-puffing police. This practically begs for a confrontation, which I'm sure some of those advisers were hoping would redound to their advantage as they tweeted and reacted on cable news about how shocking "those kids'" behavior was, with their booing and unruliness. Scary!
If they seriously want to win this thing in Cleveland, they'll continue to quietly muscle out the few Party Unity My Ass deadenders clinging to the Clinton PR team (as rumors are already swirling they're preparing to do with Wassermman-Schultz) and give the cooler headed, actual Unity faction the reins from here on out.