Wednesday, December 19, 2018


This makes no sense:
The South Carolina Republican Party could cancel its marquee presidential nominating contest in 2020 in a move to protect President Trump from any primary challengers.

Drew McKissick, chairman of the South Carolina GOP, said he doesn’t anticipate Trump would face a primary challenge and emphasized that the state party executive committee hasn’t held any formal discussions about the contest, dubbed “first in the South” and usually third on the presidential nominating calendar. But McKissick would pointedly not rule out canceling the primary, indicating that that would be his preference....

Trump’s Republican allies in the state, including Gov. Henry McMaster, aren’t likely to complain.

“Pigs will fly before the South Carolina GOP allows Trump to have opposition,” said Matt Moore, McKissick’s predecessor as chairman of the state party.
The quoted story points out that South Carolina canceled the primary in 2004, but in '04 the incumbent president, George W. Bush, had only token opposition throughout primary season, including such political heavyweights as the guy who played the title character in the 1971 cult film Billy Jack. That doesn't seem comparable to canceling the primary to prevent Trump from facing a challenger. The story notes that the Iowa GOP caucuses in 1992 didn't have a presidential ballot, at a time when the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush, was facing a primary challenger, Pat Buchanan -- and we know how that turned out. Buchanan did quite well against Bush in the next contest, the New Hampshire primary, and Bush went on to lose in November.

If you have an incumbent who looks beatable, why would you want to proclaim to the world that he's too weak to survive a challenge without embarrassment? The result would be like a primary version of the Streisand effect -- the message you're trying to suppress would be magnified. It's hard right now to imagine Trump ever losing favor among Republican voters -- in South Carolina, GOP voters now give him an 83% approval rating -- but if things have changed by 2020 and GOP voters are genuinely disillusioned by Trump, why not give them a chance to vote for someone who might have a better chance of winning a general election?

If Trump is weakened, you won't be able to hide the fact -- there are 49 other states, after all. This just seems like an effort to protect Trump's precious ego, at the possible expense of the party's chances in 2020. Not that we should complain.

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