30 Mar 2016

We’re Screwed

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Jonathan V. Last, of the the Weekly Standard, (via email) observes that we are in a no-win situation here. Whatever happens, Donald Trump is going to split the GOP vote.

With Easter break behind us and a pause before the vote in Wisconsin next week, let’s have a deep breath and take stock of where we stand now in the GOP primary.

It’s now abundantly clear that the Republican party is broken. There’s no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again this cycle-whether the nominee is Trump, Cruz, or [insert White Knight]. The idea that Republicans could rally to Trump in a meaningful way-even if party elites cave in-has basically been invalidated by the exit polling coming out of Florida, Ohio, Utah, and pretty much everywhere else. A giant chunk of Republican voters isn’t going to come to him.

Now maybe it’s not the 40 percent or so who tell pollsters they won’t vote Trump if he’s the nominee. I’m sure some of those people feel that way because they’re in the heat of a primary fight and will reconsider when facing the prospect of a Clinton administration. But some won’t, because Trump isn’t just distasteful. You could argue that the potential downside of Trump (expansive authoritarianism unmoored from ideological commitments) is worse than the potential of downside of Clinton (lawless progressivism run amok) [Good summations –JDZ]. For some GOP voters, Clinton could be the lesser of two evils.

But even if half the Republicans who now say they won’t vote for Trump stay that way, there are a bunch of knife’s-edge states that come off the board. So long Florida. So long Ohio. So long North Carolina and Colorado. My colleague Jay Cost thinks that in a Trump vs. Clinton matchup, Clinton starts with a floor of 400 Electoral votes. He may be right. (By the by, Trump supporters generally place a great deal of faith in poll numbers when they show their guy doing well against Bush, Rubio, Cruz, et al. Yet somehow they totally discount the mountain of polls showing Trump being the weakest Republican-by far- against Clinton. Weird.)

On the other hand, Trump can honestly claim to have brought a bunch of new voters into the primary process. And where are these people going to go if Trump isn’t the nominee? Who knows. But it probably won’t be pretty. Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, so they clearly needed a revamped coalition. Last summer, it looked like Trumpism might be an answer to this problem. Now that Trumpism has devolved from being a semi-coherent nationalist worldview into an ad hoc series of contradictory positions held together by an authoritarian cult of personality … not so much.

Which leaves us where, exactly?

Either Trump gets to 1,237 delegates and wins the nomination outright, or he doesn’t and someone else gets nominated after a floor fight at the Republican national convention.

But let’s be clear: Neither or these options is ‘good’ and neither is likely to result in a Republican victory in November. So when someone says, Yeah, but if you don’t do X, you’re giving aid and comfort to Hillary Clinton, just remember: There’s a good chance that ship has already sailed. The priorities for picking the Republican nominee are a lot more near-term right now.”

3 Feedbacks on "We’re Screwed"


You’re observing one of the downsides to a two-party system versus a parliamentary system. In a parliamentary system the Trumpsters — or the American First Party, or whatever they called themselves — would get their 20% of the vote, then form a coalition government with the Republicans, after which they would spend the next years complaining that Republicans were ignoring them. Their influence would wax and wane, but they could never say they were totally disenfranchised. There are lots of benefits to our current system — like not having one party in complete control of government very often (see results of 2009-2010) — but this ain’t one of them.

Theoretically Democrats could have the same problems with the Sandernistas versus Hillary, but Democrats seem to be able to exercise a lot more common sense when it comes to the priority of beating Republicans in general elections.

T. Shaw

Epidemic proportion Trump Derangement Syndrome: I bet most of them voted for Obama, too.

They are supporting a failed harridan who, if the rule of law were extant, would be in prison. It tells me more about them than about Hillary or Trump.

They helped elect Obama in 2008 and 2012. They will elect Hillary in 2016. I will blame them, not Trump.

I voted for the losers in 2008 and 2012. I will not vote for another GOP hack.

Millie Woods

Oh well, I guess it’s Hillary then. Too bad the GOPe and their attack dogs debased their front runner so viciously and so early in the game. On the upside, we now have confirmation that the name ‘The Stupid Party’ is deserved.


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