# Outside the Beltway

## 78 > 22

### If we are gong to assess the significance of Trump, we need to pay attention to the numbers.

As we continue to assess the Trump candidacy I want to bring up two facts (that I have noted before in one form or another):

1. The first actual votes for the GOP will not be cast until February 1, 2016 (the date of the Iowa Caucuses) and the first primary votes will be cast just over a week later, February 9, in New Hampshire.
2. 78% is bigger than 22%.

I note the first fact because five months is a rather long time in politics, especially at this stage of a campaign (and especially in light of number 2).

The second fact is the differential, based on the current RCP average, of Trump support (22%) and the support for all other GOP options (78%).

Please stop, pause, and consider these numbers:  78% is substantially more than 22% (3.55 times, in fact, for those of you keeping score at home).  Yet, we are so conditioned by the fact that a) our elections are usually won by plurality (i.e., the most votes), and b) the way the media reports on the “front-runner” that I think we often ignored basic math.   For Donald Trump to win the GOP nomination he has to be able to capture far more than 22% of support when the actual voting starts.  So, the long-term question is:  what are the second, third, fourth, etc., preferences of the voters currently backing candidates other than Trump?  Where, for example, does Ben Carson’s 9+% go?  (Sorry, Ben, that support is eventually going elsewhere).

There is some polling on second choices (for example, here) but even that is only helpful to a small degree since with this much fragmentation it is difficult to really know where the 78% would distribute to if voters were asked to rank-order the candidates from top to bottom).   Recent polls show that Trump has a 57% favorability ranking among Republicans, so it is conceivably possible that Trump could climb in GOP polling, but I still have to think that a more traditional candidate (i.e., anyone in the field other than Trump and Carson) would be able to attract a substantial segment of the 78% in question once the field in winnowed. (And a favor view of a candidate does not mean that a given voter will actually support that candidate in the face of more than one choice).

The trend line also matters.  Note that Trump did steadily climb for a while there, but appears to have leveled off (and has even declined a bit of late).  If Trump was truly an unstoppable leader of the pack, the trend line would still be going upward.

I will confess that I am surprised (to some degree) that Trump is where he is in the polls in the sense that he has captured first place and held it (it is disheartening at some level to think that more exposure for Trump has not been enough to torpedo his campaign).  It is further a comment on, among other things, candidates like Bush and Walker to some degree (note their trend lines).  However, 22% makes Trump the leader because there are so many candidates running (did someone mention fragmentation?).  Look at the Democratic side of the equation (or think back to previous nomination contests):  Bernie Sanders has 25% in the RCP average at the moment, but because there are only a handful of candidates in the field, the dynamic is much different (and note that those numbers include a non-declared candidate:  Joe Biden).  So because there is a major candidate (Hillary) and not that many other candidates running, Bernie’s 25% is a distant second in that contest (even though it is bigger than Trump’s 22%).  To say something that is blatantly obvious (but not if one watches cable news, it would seem):  Clinton and Trump are both front-runners for their party’s nominations, but one of these things is not like the other (and that is true just in terms of the numbers regardless of anything else).  I truly get the sense, both on what little exposure I get to cable news, as well as to treatment in other media (and even in the comment sections here at OTB) that a lot of people are assessing Trump’s position (both positively and negatively) without the appropriate context.

My point is this:  we cannot at this stage draw sweeping conclusions about American politics, nor even of the Republican Party, let alone about the results of the 2016 contest based on Trump’s current poll position because that support only equates to 22% of one party.  Now, I think it very much matters (and is, quite frankly, disturbing) that 22% of Republicans view Trump as a possible president (and that 57% of Republicans view him favorably).  However, 22% of support from one political party is still a) less than a quarter of that party, and b) ultimately only a sliver of the US population relative to adherents to the other party as well as the 78% of Trump’s own party that currently supports other candidates.  Broad generalities cannot be made from that number.   Trump is a spectacle, to be sure and he is even entertaining in a perverse way (and is especially entertaining when Berkley Breathed is writing jokes about him), but it is still premature to consider him the new face of the GOP.

Now, I will say this:  the campaign that he has run thusfar has been full of nationalism and nativism (it not downright racism) and the fact that he is the GOP front-runner (even of a very crowded field) does indict a portion of that party and should help underscore an unpleasant truth about part of the GOP coalition.   This unpleasant truth is made worse, I would note, by the fact that some of the other candidates see the need to try and match Trump’s nativism to some degree.

However, more than anything I want to stress the fragementation of the field (yes, I am beating this horse a bit and I am aware of it).  There is too much support that is not migrating to Trump at this stage to pretend like we have a firm grasp on the way this race is going or to say that Trump’s front-runner status is anything other than first in a very crowded field of marathon runners who have only just gotten started (if that).

I am not saying it is impossible for Trump to win the nomination (although I still think it an improbable outcome).  However, I am saying that I am having a hard time seeing him constructing the intra-party coalition needed to acquire the requisite delegates to win the nomination.   I am also saying that some of the ways in which Trump is being discussed needs to be dialed back.  He is far from the nominee at the moment and does not yet represent the party as a whole (because, well, the party is fragmented at the moment).

Trump is interesting, even outside the gawking-at-an-accident aspect of his campaign.  His campaign does tell use something about things like campaign finance (indeed, I think part of why we have the crowded, fragmented field we have is because of the aftermath of McCain-Feingold and Citizen’s United and therefore a self-funded Trump can emerge as he has).  He certainly also tells us that there is still an audience for nativistic xenophobia as well as crude “tell it like it is” populism (which, weirdly enough, isn’t actually telling it like is, but man do some people like a guy with an attitude who can speak to their vague uneasiness of people and circumstances they really don’t understand).

Really, at the base of it, as one who looks at voting and parties globally what I want most of all is basic acknowledgement of what such a crowded field means in terms of assessing likely outcomes.  Further, this is especially true since early front-runner status is often not indicate of the outcomes (see here and here, for example) and this is especially true because the US nomination process if not one of a simple plurality vote (far from it).  There is a lengthy and complicated process yet ahead and winnowing is coming.

Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

1. Michael S. says:

Trump is not going to be the GOP nominee but that’s not the point. What you are missing is that the positions he is taking (end birthright citizenship, build a wall along the Mexican border, etc.) are crazy, but because he is leading the GOP pack, the other clowns in the car feel as if they have to take the same positions to try and win over Trump supporters so they can be the nominee. So, Trump positions soon become Jeb Bush’s, Scott Walker’s or Marco Rubio’s positions. And then they have those positions tethered to them for the general election as part of the GOP platform, Or, alternatively, these candidates refuse to agree with Trump’s positions or worse insult Trump and they then anger 22% of the GOP base who (may) decide not to vote at all in the general.

2. Crusty Dem says:

My counters would be:
1) Most GOP primaries are winner take all. Plurality win = 100% of delegates.
2) The game theory of the situation (with the assumption that Trump burns out and 2nd place is victory) doesn’t discourage any but the weakest candidates dropping out.
3) GOP voters appear to be very attracted to strength. Just leading the polls turns Trump from unacceptable to tolerable. 57% of GOP voters view Trump favorably, I suspect that number will rise. As long as the remaining vote is distributed fairly evenly and there are two other candidates, Trump doesn’t even need 50%.

I wouldn’t want to put money on Trump right now either, but until a strong #2 shows up, I’m not sure he’ll be stopped..

3. Peacewood says:

Latest update shows it’s no longer 22, Steven:

Check it out.

The relevant bit: “Even when Trump was pitted directly in the poll against just his top two competitors, 44 percent backed him. Bush won about 29 percent of respondents, and Carson 25 percent.”

44. And a 44 that could well grow.

4. @Crusty Dem: Actually, most GOP primaries allocate X delegates at large in a state (via plurality) and then allocate most at the district level (also via plurality). You can’t bank on a small plurality taking one to victory in these circumstances.

5. @Peacewood: Well, the relevant number for my post would be 32, but I take the point.

Of course, when it comes to evaluating that 44 you note, I still think that it is too early to bank on these number (see, Giuliani in 2007, e.g., ).

6. de stijl says:

78% is bigger than 22%.

The second fact is the differential, based on the current RCP average, of Trump support (22%) and the support for all other GOP options (78%).

But also 22% is greater than 15%.

Trump is the undisputed leader. And for a reason.

Rarely, at this point in the race, is the front runner polling bigger than the composite not-front runner. Maybe the last time we saw that was in 2000 with GWB.

That’s not really a potent argument, Steven.

Trump is the undisputed poll leader and is nearly twice as popular as not-Trump.

Before Iowa and New Hampshire it’s all a bit chaotic. But Trump’s numbers are not to be ignored. They reveal a very committed R core that will not ever, ever vote for the Establishment candidate in the primary or caucus stage of the cycle ever again.

In their eyes, the R Establishment guys failed them.

We now have a Kenyan-born socialist usurper on the throne thanks to the failed candidacies of those RINO pretenders like McCain and Romney. That’s how these folks see this.

Controlling the House or the Senate is immaterial. The Big Chair is the big get. Nothing else really matters except as ephemera and bragging rights. Having an R President means that the American people agree with us, and therefore, we can do anything we want. That is the goal and the promise.

Being able to anything you want in the political sphere is the ne plus ultra, the Holy Grail. Not necessarily because you can do whatever you want, but because you can prevent your internal political enemies from doing what they want.

If you force rank enemies for Rs, Democrats are going to come out in top. More than ISIS, more than Iran, more than China, more than Russia. Right now, Rs see the Ds as the biggest threat in the world. That is very disturbing.

That that is not existentially troubling to the few responsible people still in the R party is frankly telling. We have an incipient nativist / populist / volkist political movement going in right now. All of of us need to quash this – R or D. Flirting with it for short-term political gain is just craven.

These folks see McCain and Romney as RINO’s at best . They voted for those guys out of tribal solidarity at best. They hate that they did that and now they want scalps.

They want Trump not just to win, but to punish those who oppose him. And the punishment may be more psychologically important than the actual winning.

7. @de stijl: I will happily (well, not happily) admit that I was wrong when and if the time comes. I am trying to point out that it is too early to make the kind of sweeping statement you are making here.

I will say that if Trump does enter, say, early March as the front-runner we will be perhaps witnessing a true transformation of the GOP. However, we are farther away from that situation than many are suggesting.

And yes, Trump is the leader at the moment, but you are ignoring the fragementation issue. I can’t, at the moment, take any analysis of this situation fully seriously that ignores the fragementation of the GOP electorate.

8. de stijl says:

I try not to let political stuff keep me up at night, but I’m starting to worry that the one of our political parties is starting to flirt with fascism.

Certainly, we are at the point of nascent fascism with the rhetoric that has been used.

Had it just been from overly-enthusiastic supporters, then big-whoop, but when it comes out of the mouths of the front-runners, then we have a problem.

We are not on a good path.

9. de stijl says:

I will say that if Trump does enter, say, early March as the front-runner we will be perhaps witnessing a true transformation of the GOP.

What happens if Trump wins Iowa or New Hampshire?

He’s in the lead in both states right now.

What moves him off the lead?

Ennui? It certainly won’t be disgust at his prior statements. They’ve already been highlighted in the media to no effect. People like him more that he said those things.

He’s a “truth teller” because he said those imprudent things.

Could it be a more acceptable craziness from a different R?

The only thing that will upend Trump right now, is if someone goes more crazy than Trump is willing to go. That’s what excites and engages the R base right now. Who can say the most outrageous thing about immigrants – that’s the path to R political success in the nomination stage.

Who goes more crazy? Huck or Cruz? They’ll try because that is their only avenue to nomination.

Right now, the only way for another R other than Trump to get the nomination is to be more outrageous than Trump.

That makes me very sad and apprehensive.

This new R base needs a “truth teller’ like you or me need oxygen. McCain and Romney didn’t provide that opportunity like Trump does.

I was amused in 2012 when the not-Romneys took the temporary lead. I may be over-reacting, but I’m not comfortable right now

10. de stijl says:

And yes, Trump is the leader at the moment, but you are ignoring the fragementation issue.

The fragmentation issue right now is between the not-Trumps.

Trump is not splitting his vote with anyone.

The crazy vote has solidified around Trump. They are not fragmented. They have off-loaded Huck and Cruz as too-late, too-little pretenders.

But the not-crazy vote is very fragmented. JEB!, Rubio, and Walker (and maybe Kasich) each have their own supporters, but they’re not unifying around one candidate.

The crazy vote and the not-crazy vote are two entirely different camps.

But JEB! and Rubio and Walker are now third tier candidates, or lower level second tier.

Where we’re seeing fragmentation is in the not-Trumps.

The not-crazy Rs are having a very poor pre-Iowa season.

11. Kylopod says:

A walk down memory lane….

Are Pundits Underestimating Herman Cain?” — Doug Mataconis, Oct. 28, 2011

How many times do we need to go down this road before people get a clue that this time it’s not different?

12. JohnMcC says:

There is a phrase universally used when discussing Mr Trump’s candidacy, ‘of course he’ll never be the nominee.’ This is being more and more called into question, of course, but for the present I’ll accept it. There is still a big question: What does his campaign DO to the R-party and how do the R-party elites who are getting it in the shorts react?

Overlook completely for now the very real possibility of an independent campaign in ’16. This summer’s events have shown that the constituency that thought they could control the Republican party were mistaken. Mr Trump has very significant support in most of the segments that make up the R-party outside the Banking/WallStreet sector; he’s strong in ‘TeaParty’ and ‘Evangelical’ and ‘ReaganDems’; he has advocates in talk radio and his control of ratings has given him primacy over FoxNews.

A significant insurgency inside a party is a very bad sign for that party. Just how bad it might be and what that portends for national politics are only seen ‘through a glass, darkly’, of course. But I would not buy the Republican party if it were a stock. I’d be ‘shorting’ it as hard as I could go.

13. michael reynolds says:

I’m with @de Stijl on this.

I’m no longer sure he will be stopped, and the important thing is not his 22-32% current support but the fact that his fascist ideas and approach are so acceptable. Donald Trump is an American Mussolini, a strutting, braggart spewing lies and nonsense to a frightened population and holding himself out as the man on a white horse.

It’s not 22 to 78, not in terms of the emotional issues Trump is playing on. It’s 45 to 45, give or take, with ten percent undecided. About 45% of GOP poll-ees are supporting the Crazy Caucus. That’s half of one of our two parties, and the other 45%, the marginally more sane group, is not pulling away from Trump but moving toward him.

This election may turn on Trump’s emotional state. Does he really want to carry this through, or is he a Perot just waiting for a convenient off-ramp. Because if he wants the nomination he may well be able to take it. As @de Stijl pointed out he leads in Iowa and New Hampshire. If he takes both, what on earth will stop him taking South Carolina? And then Nevada?

At that point, if he takes those four contests, we go on March 1 to Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. He’d perhaps lose Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia, but that would leave him potentially with 5 wins, possibly including Texas, which is the biggie in that round.

At that point, my friend, he’s the nominee. Because he’ll certainly then be able to take Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi. Not til March 15 does Jeb have a shot at racking up a major win when we have Illinois, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. Say Jeb takes Florida and Kasich takes Ohio and Illinois, so what? Trump can dismiss those as favorite son victories.

So I keep hearing (and have said) it won’t be Trump, but I’ll be damned if I see where there’s a firewall to stop him. If he takes New Hampshire on February 9, five months from now, he may be unstoppable.

14. cian says:

Did anyone here ever seriously think that the republican base wouldn’t support the first openly racist candidate who was prepared to say aloud what they’ve been saying to each other for the past 7 years?

The Tea party was never about fiscal responsibility, it was about hatred for a black president. It was never about healthcare or states’ rights or guns or government overreach, it was about hatred for minorities. Trump makes no sense. He talks gibberish. He has no policies or ideas beyond doing terrific things by hiring great people. But he hates him some immigrants, so who cares?

Doug and James have watched this journey towards overt fascism over the lifetime of Obama’s tenure and wrung their hands and hung their heads with the best of us, but still declare themselves, pathetically, to be supporters of a party so cowardly it would rather co-opt this hate than challenge it.

Bush, Rubio and Walker are choking on their weasel words while the rest of the hopeful clowns in the clown car try to outdo Trump (forget the no hopers- Kasich, Carly and Graham) they have a modicum of decency and decency no longer matters to the republican Party.

15. Agreed that it is still more likely than not that Trump does not win the nomination. The party elite still has the ability to coalesce behind someone else, and to launch nonstop attacks on Trump via Fox and similar Republican media. Certainly, that’s the pattern from the past few primaries.

But we can’t take that as a given. Trump’s path has grown far more plausible in the past three weeks. The sort of statements on his part that would have been considered gaffes for normal candidates have barely slowed him down. And Fox had to back down, after Round 2 of the debate had clearly been an attempt to tear him down. Norm Ornstein has a fine “maybe it’s different this time” examination here. (One point in there: Yep, the party elite is fragmented. What, exactly, is the path to un-fragmentation in a world where every candidate has an eccentric billionaire willing to back him?)

Somewhat peripheral to Ornstein’s point, the base agitation he describes is 100% tribal/attitudinal. No one cared much about excessive federal or executive power, or deficits, in the Bush Jr era. (He left office with around 30% approval from independents, 60% from Republicans, and 80% from “conservative Republicans”). The terms of the immigration “debate” in the Party are telling– if we got extremely serious about fining employers for employing people who aren’t licensed to be here, then illegal immigration would dry up, just as it did during the Great Recession. But employers aren’t the right race and class for base rage.

As others in this thread have pointed out, the other candidates in the GOP aren’t reacting with shock and horror and forthright attacks on Trump’s demagoguery; they’re instead talking about walls and anchor babies.

Regardless of whether Trump winds up flaming out, it’s extremely alarming that one of our two major parties is mostly driven by resentment-grounded identity politics.

16. John Peabody says:

This is the sanest article I’ve yet seen on Mr. Trump. Thank you.

17. Lenoxus says:

I agree that the situation demonstrates flaws in plurality voting, specifically how it violates the independence of clones criterion. (The non-Trump candidates aren’t really identical to rach other, but standing next to someone wildly unhinged, they look it.) And if Trump ends up running as a third candidate in the general, he’ll demonstrate a different but related issue, the independence of irrelevant alternatives. Whereas right now the GOP candidates are helping Trump by spoiling each other, third-option Trump could spoil the nominee. He’s bad luck in two distinxt ways.

18. de stijl says:

I lived in Minnesota when Jesse Ventura won the governorship.

The D was Hugh Humphrey’s son -Skip -who was not his father’s son when it comes to political savvy. Skip Humphrey was about as exciting as a twice-used tea bag. He was the DFL standard bearer who really didn’t know how to, nor did he really wish to, bear a standard. My mail carrier would have been a more compelling candidate.

The R, Norm Coleman, was a smarmy D-turned R, the former mayor of St. Paul. He was not a bad guy, I’ve heard, but he came off as a blow-dried TV anchor type. After the embarrassment of Rod Grams as a totally under-prepared, and utterly unable to jump up to be a prepared / able US Senator, Coleman had a hard path to victory in 1998 with his perceived persona. The guy who sold you your last car might be a charming guy in his own way but you wouldn’t want him to be your alderman. Norm Coleman was that guy. (He won later – he was the guy that kept Al Franken on the sidelines thru most of 2009.)

Trump is more like Ventura than anyone else. He is the celebrity, non-politician insurgent.

Yahoos will be intrigued.

19. @de stijl:

but I’m starting to worry that the one of our political parties is starting to flirt with fascism.

That is a strong word that I do not use (or endorse the usage of lightly) but there are elements of Trumps’s approach (the nationalism, the nativism, the emotionalism, the us v. them, etc.) that gets far too close for comfort.

20. @de stijl:

The fragmentation issue right now is between the not-Trumps.

Trump is not splitting his vote with anyone.

The crazy vote has solidified around Trump. They are not fragmented.

Well, yes, and that is rather the point: there is a percentage (say 22 or 32) that is in Trump’s corner. The question is: where does all the other 78 or 68 go once candidate start dropping out (i.e., the winnowing that I mentioned? If much of it goes to Trump, he wins. However if there is, as you argue, a Trump vote and non-Trump vote, the non-Trump vote will eventually coalesce around a non-Trump and at the moment the non-Trump vote is bigger than the Trump vote. This is much of my point.

21. @de stijl: You could have written the same post, after a fashion, after Rudy Giuliani in mid-2007. It is too early to assume that all those predicates will come to pass.

22. gVOR08 says:

Paraphrasing John Paul Jones – The establishment has not yet begun to spend.

When it becomes a battle of saturation TV ads, Trump will need to either liquidate property or raise money. If he raises money, he loses his argument that he hasn’t been bought. Or so I’ve thought. The Republican primary electorate are proving so gullible, I think Trump could lie his way around that.

23. gVOR08 says:

@de stijl:

Certainly, we are at the point of nascent fascism with the rhetoric that has been used.

Seems to me we’re past nascent. Remember that Hitler was financed by big business.

Wiktionary:
Fascism 1. (historical) A political regime, having totalitarian aspirations, ideologically based on a relationship between business and the centralized government, business-and-government control of the marketplace, repression of criticism or opposition, a leader cult and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights. Originally only applied (usually capitalized) to Benito Mussolini’s Italy.

24. de stijl says:

So I keep hearing (and have said) it won’t be Trump, but I’ll be damned if I see where there’s a firewall to stop him.

I don’t see right now how a Walker or Bush beats Trump if he sticks it out. Both of those guys couldn’t candidate their way out of Cedar Rapids. They have zero retail political skills and the perceived advantage of RNC money and Establishment backing have utterly evaporated. In fact, those are bad things. The base hates that scat.

There is no audience for an Establishment R candidate except for the DC media. The people who vote R don’t want those types anymore. They want to see their collective id run free and proud, and Trump is their guy.

If Trump really wants it, the nomination is his. It will kill his business and probably lead him once again into bankruptcy, but the R nomination is his if he doesn’t bail.

Right now, I don’t see how how Bush or Walker or Rubio beats Trump. R voters don’t want those guys. Those guys are seen as the enemy. Those guys are seen as losers in the same vein as those losers who lost in 2008 and 2012.

In 2016, I have about as much of influence on the eventual Republican nominee as Reince Preibus does. That’s pretty scary.

That makes me very sad about America, but it would also mean that a Trump nomination would be worse than the Goldwater beat-down in the general election.

25. OzarkHillbilly says:

@de stijl:

I’m starting to worry that the one of our political parties is starting to flirt with fascism.

SSDD. There has always been a political party flirting with fascism.This is America after all.

26. de stijl says:

You could have written the same post, after a fashion, after Rudy Giuliani in mid-2007.

In 2007, the R voters actually wanted to win the presidency.

In 2012, we started to see the power of the not-Romney voters. Now, the not-Bush / Walker voters are ascendant and pissed and vinegary.

I’m not sure that they want the presidency more than they want to seize the party. They want and need a current-day incarnation of George Wallace. (In fact, I’d argue that Rs are much more comfortable not having the presidency.)

27. grumpy realist says:

I’ll believe Trump is really serious when he has to put serious money (and serious money for him, not the one million here, one million there which for him is small change hidden in the sofa cushions) down on the race. At the moment he’s getting free advertising by saying the most outrageous stuff he can think of, but is this enough to get him to the presidency?

I also blame the media. They’re looking at the whole thing as the most glorious form of entertainment around, notwithstanding that putting Donald Trump into a position of real power may prove the death knell for a sensible future for the US. Why aren’t they really cross-checking him, pointing out the costs and difficulties of implementing any of his crazy ideas? Because they’re more interested in entertainment than in doing their jobs….

28. I don’t disagree with much, if any of that Steven and have been preaching much the same to GOP acolytes that I know and who are worried. That said, there are a few poll numbers that do matter and where fragmentation could make a difference, or not depending on how many people are still in the race: Iowa & New Hampshire. One of my main pet peeves about our nomination contest is the way the primaries are scheduled. Primary momentum is a real thing. If Trump could actually win Iowa and/or New Hampshire then it is likely many of the non lunatic GOP primary voters would gravitate toward him or maybe to one other candidate. I don’t think Donald Trump will have won a single primary contest when next summer’s conventions are held, but unlike national poll numbers (which are worthless with 17 people running), early primary state numbers matter. Who is leading Iowa? Trump+8. New Hampshire? Trump+5.

The main question leading up to that point is: How long will the outlier candidates hang on? This is a difficult question to answer. The reality of campaign finance in its current form is that people that would never have run for President before, and those that can’t win, can stay in longer. For example, given the current state of his campaign’s finances, Rick Perry should be out of the race soon. The problem is that with “sugar daddy” financiers donating unlimited amount of money to Super PACs, Perry doesn’t have to have much of a campaign to stay in the race. That probably isn’t a winning formula, but it means Rick Perry could stay in as long as one or two Texas oil men are giving him money. This is much the case with many other candidates. I would argue campaign fiance is why so many people are running and why they can stay in. If most of these people are able to stay in the race until the early states, then the fragmentation will likely continue and that means Trump is the only candidate with a coalition and actually wins a state, or two, or three…and that should scare the hell out of the Republican Party.

29. Ron Beasley says:

@Steven L. Taylor: I think this is different. This is about race – a black man in the White House. I know this was the case for my late mother. Of course this is nothing new. If you haven’t already you should read Guest of Honor, It is the story of when T.R. Roosevelt had dinner with Booker T Washington at the White House in 1901 and the firestorm that created. The idea that a black man should be a guest at the White House was simply too much for many.
My mother was very prejudiced and to this day I have trouble figuring out why. She was born in Western Idaho and raised in Eastern Washington. She probably didn’t even see her first person of color until her family moved to Portland when she was 18. Even then Portland did not have much of a minority population. It wasn’t until Henry Kaiser started importing blacks from the south to work in his ship yards during WWII that Portland acquired a minority population.

30. Scott says:

That is a strong word that I do not use (or endorse the usage of lightly) but there are elements of Trumps’s approach (the nationalism, the nativism, the emotionalism, the us v. them, etc.) that gets far too close for comfort.

I, too, do not want to promiscuously fling the fascism word around but…. it is not too soon to start looking at parallels. In terms of history, the impulse to blame others for the failures is strong. The immigration issue, singling out Mexicans, is one parallel to blaming Jews and Bolsheviks in Germany. (BTW, we just had two synagogues defaced here in San Antonio).

Someone pointed out that business interests supported the rise of fascism. Let’s not forget that in the 30s the wealthy in this country were certainly fascist sympathizers, a history that tends to be forgotten.

Bottom line: it not too soon to be on the alert for the signs. I just hope there are leaders on the Republican side that will call out the more dangerous elements of the right.

31. cian says:

My guess is those presently voting for Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum, Jindal, and Carson will go to Trump if and when they drop out, bringing his numbers to 45%. A large section of Fiorina’s, Paul’s and Christie’s would also go Trump (say 50%) adding 6,9% leaving him at 51.9%. At that point Walker and Rubio will start auditioning for the vice presidency roll and the establishment will fall in line and accept Trump as the nominee.

32. JohnMcC says:

@Talmadge East: My friend, your moniker recalls to me a story about American politics (and southern politics in particular) that I just love. Sen Herman Talmadge was running for re-election in ’62 and spoke at a county fair in — let’s say — Gwinnett County (since the shadow of Stone Mountain makes the story better). According to my old poli-sci professor, his speech consisted of the following: “My friends, I want you to know that the good citizens of Gwinnett County have only THREE friends in the NORTH. There’s Jesus Christ. There’s Sears Roebuck. And there’s ME — HERMAN TALMADGE!”

He won a landslide.

Maybe not completely off-topic because it’s about the tribalism implicit in so much of our politics?

And possibly also of interest because Herman’s daddy Gene Talmadge was the governor of Georgia who sent national guardsmen to round up thousands of strikers at east Georgia’s textile mills, confined them behind barbed wire in former WW1 POW camps and threatened to have them tried in military tribunals. Speaking of fascism in America as not being completely unthinkable, eh?

33. @de stijl:

There is no audience for an Establishment R candidate except for the DC media. The people who vote R don’t want those types anymore. They want to see their collective id run free and proud, and Trump is their guy.

If your hypothesis was correct then Trump would be the run-away front-runner. This is my whole point. You cannot take Trump’s current poll numbers, and even his front-runner status, and then claim it represents the entire GOP and is the given direction of the GOP. I do not say this to defend the current state of the Republican Party, but I say it as a matter of analytical fact–and while I am quite concerned about what Trump represents, I think we need to take a breath, understand the process and be reasonable about the numbers.

You simply cannot acknowledge the obvious fragmentation of the field and the time parameters at work (all through the lens of how the process works) and then declare Trump=GOP and drop the mic.

34. @de stijl:

In 2007, the R voters actually wanted to win the presidency.

In 2012, we started to see the power of the not-Romney voters. Now, the not-Bush / Walker voters are ascendant and pissed and vinegary.

I’m not sure that they want the presidency more than they want to seize the party. They want and need a current-day incarnation of George Wallace. (In fact, I’d argue that Rs are much more comfortable not having the presidency.)

That is based on what evidence?

35. I’ll believe Trump is really serious when he has to put serious money (and serious money for him, not the one million here, one million there which for him is small change hidden in the sofa cushions) down on the race

This will be an important marker, yes.

I also blame the media. They’re looking at the whole thing as the most glorious form of entertainment around

Yup, but then again: that’s the job for most of them.

I think this is different. This is about race – a black man in the White House.

If it was about Obama, then you should have seen something like this in 2012. Race is clearly part of this, but I am not sure how much of it is about Obama, per se.

One of my main pet peeves about our nomination contest is the way the primaries are scheduled.

I second that peeve.

@Scott:

Bottom line: it not too soon to be on the alert for the signs. I just hope there are leaders on the Republican side that will call out the more dangerous elements of the right.

I agree. I find a lot of what Trump is saying (and what his supporters seem to like) more than a little disturbing. Even setting aside more extreme characterizations, the fact that he is running a blatantly racist campaign is sufficiently bad for me to find it all concerning.

36. Scott F. says:

And yes, Trump is the leader at the moment, but you are ignoring the fragementation issue. I can’t, at the moment, take any analysis of this situation fully seriously that ignores the fragementation of the GOP electorate.

The fragmentation of the GOP electorate you’d like to take cover behind is not as great as you state. I’m in complete agreement with you on Trump – 22% < 78% and there will inevitably be winnowing.

But, look at the immigration issue you've focused on here. 7.3% < 92.7% is also true and Rubio stands alone for a path to citizenship. Throw in Bush's support for a path to legal status and still 18% < 82%. So, the fragmentation on immigration is at best a choice between full blown nativism and tempered nativism. That's not a lot of fragmentation.

Move to foreign policy and the difference between the candidates is even smaller. Not one Republican candidate supports the Iran Nuclear Deal (0% < 100%). Now, if you're feeling generous you could separate Rand Paul from the pack and say there is a non-interventionist bloc in the GOP. Sadly, 4.3% < 95.7% as well.

Do you want to look at taxes now? Health Care Reform?

37. @Scott F.:

The fragmentation of the GOP electorate you’d like to take cover behind is not as great as you state

How I am I taking cover behind an empirical fact? There are 17 (I think) declared candidates. They split the 100% of support amongst them. Most of the candidates are in the single digits. This is fragmentation of support for candidates.

But yes, there is going to be agreement on issues–they are Republican voters choosing a Republican candidate, after all. The question: where does all the support eventually go? (And there is this sub-question of whether one can take Trump’s support and just declare him the unified face of the GOP–which you can’t because, well, support is currently fragmented).

I will endeavor to find another way to say it 😉

(You are, btw, confusing candidate support with support for specific issues. Those are related, but they are not the same thing).

38. Mikey says:

The question: where does all the support eventually go?

I think Trump would get enough of the current not-Trump adherents to hit over 50%.

I mean, Cruz, Carson, and Huck adherents make up over 20% and there ain’t a one who’s gonna vote for Jeb when those guys eventually drop out.

39. Scott F. says:

Fair enough. You say I am conflating candidate support with support on specific issues and you are absolutely right. However, I’m not confusing them any more than you are, since you can’t really separate the candidate from what they stand for. Yes, there is fragmentation of support for candidates, so I suppose Trump can’t be declared the unified face of the GOP electorate. But, you go on to say…

… the campaign that he (Trump) has run thus far has been full of nationalism and nativism (it not downright racism) and the fact that he is the GOP front-runner (even of a very crowded field) does indict a portion of that party and should help underscore an unpleasant truth about part of the GOP coalition. This unpleasant truth is made worse, I would note, by the fact that some of the other candidates see the need to try and match Trump’s nativism to some degree.

…and I’m taking issue with your use of “a portion” and “some” in this framing. It appears to me that you are suggesting that the “unified face of the GOP,” as represented by any of the other candidates the GOP electorate will ultimately coalesce around, would be somewhat more reasonable looking than Trump. While I, using the same math you are, am stating that on the issues – which matter more than candidates’ personalities, I’d hope you agree – Trump is more representative of the party consensus view than any of the establishment candidates are.

I grant your point that one should expect agreement on the issues within the Republican party, but I’d say this should only be generally true. I contend that lockstep agreement is not good within a party and that is especially true when the lockstep position is a radical one.

There used to be a significant bloc of the GOP that wasn’t xenophobic nativists. There used to be foreign policy realists like Brent Scowcroft in your party. There used to be Republican fiscal conservatives, like Bruce Bartlett, who understood that balancing a budget was a matter of both revenue and spending. You ask where Republican support will go when the field is winnowed. For those Republicans, I see no where for them to go.

Hold the mirror up to the current face of the GOP, Steven. The reflection will look a lot more like Trump than I believe you are willing to admit.

40. Tillman says:

How masterful of a trolling act is it when the dude known for putting his own name on things gets people to name things after him by being an uncouth and crass pseudofascist? I used “Trumpsprechen” a week or so ago, Perry used “Trumpism” which continues being bandied about, worst of all are people who just use his last name as a mononym both physically and conceptually — people calling for “peak Trump.”

I write all that as preamble to the epiphany I had that this is just the month of August, everyone. If we reduced our view of the world to everything that happens in it in one month, we would almost without doubt think the world was ending, constantly.

Now that there stock market business, that’s going to be interesting. What happens to Trump if the Chinese have accidentally set in motion another global recession?

41. @Scott F.: I will cut again to the chase (and I not defending the current state of the GOP): It is impossible to reconcile the fragmentation of the field and the notion that Trump is the embodiment of the GOP. If Trump were the GOP’s messiah, he would have 100% of support.

And the thing about issues is that they cross-cut. Yes, a lot of southerners are anti-immigration, but a lot of them are also dedicated socons and Trump does not fit that bill. There are multiple issues held by different blocs in the party and at different levels of intensity.

Again: there are reasons why Trump does not yet have a majority of support and may not get it. This undeniable fact is my point. I understand the desire to criticize the GOP. I understand that a number of the candidates (or, depending on your POV, all of them) are problematic. However, this notion that Trump has already basically become the GOP’s face. but with less than a 1/3rd of GOP support doesn’t make empirical sense.

There used to be a significant bloc of the GOP that wasn’t xenophobic nativists. There used to be foreign policy realists like Brent Scowcroft in your party. There used to be Republican fiscal conservatives, like Bruce Bartlett, who understood that balancing a budget was a matter of both revenue and spending. You ask where Republican support will go when the field is winnowed. For those Republicans, I see no where for them to go.

A lot of them have left the party. And those who have stayed aren’t supporting Trump. Indeed, you are making my case: the mainstream Republicans who have not abandoned the party will seek a more mainstream candidate–Bush, Walker, Rubio, Kasich and the like.

42. John D'Geek says:

@Steven L. Taylor: Have you seen Scott Adams’ (of Dilbert fame) analysis on the Trump campaign?

He believes that Trump is acting as a salesman rather than as a politician, which confuses “the rest of us”. He’s controlling the discussion and flow of thought, rather than worrying about the opposition. One example: Trump says he’s worth ten billion; Forbes says it more like three. Talking heads — and his opponents — focus on the disparity; but by doing so, the opposition has to concede his basic point: he’s a self-made billionaire — he knows how to make money.

And that’s what people will remember at the polls.

It looks insane, but .. well, Trump literally wrote the book on sales: The Art of the Deal.

Reading Adams’ article was the first time I actually took Trump seriously as a candidate.

43. @John D’Geek: Yes, I read it. While clearly Trump has a specific style, I am less convinced of it revolutionary nature.

We shall see. He is a serious candidate at the moment because he commands the plurality of national polling. We will see how it all plays out–I just think that there is no compelling reason that he should be seen as anything other than what he is: a guy with less than third of the support of the party’s adherents.

44. Mikey says:

A relevant and interesting item from the New York Times:

Why Donald Trump Won’t Fold: Polls and People Speak

A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that Mr. Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.

In poll after poll of Republicans, Mr. Trump leads among women, despite having used terms like “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” to denigrate some of them. He leads among evangelical Christians, despite saying he had never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters. He leads among the most frequent, likely voters, even though his appeal is greatest among those with little history of voting.

45. de stijl says:

If your hypothesis was correct then Trump would be the run-away front-runner.

He is the run-away front runner.

46. @de stijl:

He is the run-away front runner.

That statement

a) defies the actual numbers.
b) ignores the nature of the process.
and
c) strains the actual meaning so the words “run-away” in this context.

47. de stijl says:

That is based on what evidence?

Gut, mostly.

I see the R voters as people who are very happy to chuck grenades from the sidelines, but are wary of actually having real power. As Batman knows, real power is a bitter companion. You actually have to do stuff that may put you in the judgement chair.

After W, those folks don’t really want to be held to the fire the way they were in 2005 – 08. That was utter definition of un-fun. Blech… never again. W wasn’t a real conservative anyhow. Everyone knows that.

Being judged and found wanting is way less fun than judging.

Judging is also way less stressful. There are no expectations of actually accomplishing anything besides doing your best in preventing the other guys from doing anything.

And if you fail, you can’t really be blamed. After all, you have no power.

Base R voters desperately want the big chair and are simultaneously petrified of the responsibility of the big chair. They want the power. They do not want the responsibility.

48. Whatever Trump’s support says about the Republican Party, I do not know a single serious political professional who believes Trump will be the GOP nominee (myself included). And I do not mean whomever is on TV. I only watch the news on Election Night and when a disaster happens. I mean boots on the ground professionals. As I mentioned earlier, the only saving grace for the Trump candidacy may be current campaign finance laws and being able to ride the fragmentation into Iowa and win in a bloated field. Personally, I don’t think Donald Trump wins a single state and if he did you would see candidates drop out like flies as major donors pulled their money and pushed it toward whoever came in 2nd or 3rd. Either way Donald Trump will NEVER be the GOP’s nominee for President. Take that to the betting markets or your local bar and win some money.

49. @de stijl:

That is based on what evidence?

Gut, mostly.

And we get to the crux of our disagreement.

50. de stijl says:

a) defies the actual numbers. …
c) strains the actual meaning so the words “run-away” in this context.

How does one define a run-away front-runner?

Is it a total percent threshold or the lead over the next person?

Given the size and the make-up of the current field, if Bush were polling at 22% the CW would see him as the presumptive nominee. Why is this a different construct for a guy like Trump?

b) ignores the nature of the process.

This is the interesting bit, because I seem to be coming around to the idea that the normal process no longer applies when it comes to the current-day Republican party when it comes to the presidential nomination process.

As evidence, we can see the rotating squad of not-Romneys that blossomed and then popped during the 2012 run-up. This stuff has been brewing for awhile.

Also, (this is not quantified) the folks who supported the not-Romneys were not terribly excited to pull the lever for Romney in the general. They did it, but the were unsatisfied, and when he lost, angry. They wanted Gingrich or some other “truth-teller” to kick ass and take Democrats names in the process. They want this hard.

It circles back to my previous (hopefully) inaccurate musing that folks are starting to flirt with fascism. I see anecdotal evidence all over the danged place that Rs see Ds as the biggest threat to America and really want to do something about that.

It’s not quantifiable right now with a nod towards your professional background, but I sense a volkist uprising on the Right. And it will be demonstrated throughout the 2016 nomination process.

Trump or a not-Bush will be the R nominee and he or she will get wiped out 350 or so EV vote total.. It’s early to make a prediction, but that’s mine right now. I’m willing to eat major crow if I’m wrong.

I guess the best evidence so far is the utter inability of folks like Bush or Walker to poll above 15% for more than a week or two. Bush should be the presumptive front-runner, but he’s second tier right now.

The R base is chock full of piss and vinegar. They don’t want a “RINO” and they won’t abide one. I predict that the R base will nominate some reactionary insurgent and he will get creamed in the general.

51. de stijl says:

And we get to the crux of our disagreement.

Not so fast.

Do we ever have evidence of an insurgency before the insurgency? Is what we’re seeing now attitudinally evidence that someone like Bush is going to get nominated? I say not.

If you rely on past performance to predict the future, you assume that the future is constructed like the past was and the voters are the same in aggregate.

My contention is that that is not so.

The voter pool has changed and their behavior will also change.

52. de stijl says:

What makes your analysis less gut-driven than mine?

You’re making the assumption that 2016 will play out like past cycles.

Why?

53. de stijl says:

And we get to the crux of our disagreement.

BTW, thanks for not engaging my point. I know that snideness is now the currency of the realm, but try not to indulge to deeply.

Here’s the issue – how does one see an inflection point before it occurs? What happened in the run-up to ’64 that made Goldwater the nominee? Because that’s basically my contention. The Rs are are going to revisit 1964 with similar results.

54. @de stijl:

BTW, thanks for not engaging my point. I know that snideness is now the currency of the realm, but try not to indulge to deeply.

I have been trying to seriously engage. I am serious: if you position is based on gut reaction, then that is indeed the crux of our disagreement. How can I argue with your gut? What would even be the point?

55. @de stijl:

How does one define a run-away front-runner?

I would say that a a run-away front-runner has to have ~45% support and a double-digit lead over the nearest opponent in a fairly shallow field (i.e., not very many competitors).

56. @de stijl:

Given the size and the make-up of the current field, if Bush were polling at 22% the CW would see him as the presumptive nominee. Why is this a different construct for a guy like Trump?

I am not the spokesperson for the CW. And if that were the scenario I would not see Bush as the run-away front-runner.

57. @de stijl:

This is the interesting bit, because I seem to be coming around to the idea that the normal process no longer applies when it comes to the current-day Republican party when it comes to the presidential nomination process.

By “process” I mean the accumulation of delegates over a multi-state (and multi-district) set of contests.

Also: polling at this stage of the process is notoriously poor at predicting the eventual nominee. There is no reason to think that fact has changed.

58. Put another way: it is not historically out of the question for one candidate to attract a specific segment of the party and get numbers like Trump (Buchanan did it for a while, Pat Robertson did it in Iowa, Bernie Sanders is doing it now). It is much harder to take that level of support and take it to the level of the nominee.

The real campaign hasn’t even started yet. Trump is currently the team that looks really good in the pre-season when the other teams aren’t playing their full playbooks.

59. de stijl says:

if you position is based on gut reaction, then that is indeed the crux of our disagreement. How can I argue with your gut?

That’s a fair point but also a bit of a cop-out.

How is your contention that 2016 will play out like 2012 rather than 1964 less of a gut feeling than mine?

2012 is fresh in our minds and we saw the grown-ups won in the end, but the audience for the not-Romneys was substantial and it took the nomination process almost to June to settle.

And yet 1964 also happened. And to a lesser degree Reagan happened. Insurgents sometimes win the Republican nomination. What I’m saying is not unprecedented. Don’t act like it isn’t, please.

Look, this a dead thread and we’re the only ones still peeking and we’re not going to move each other off our positions, but I’d ask you to consider that the attitudinal adjustment that has indisputably happened amongst the Rs over the last 20 years has propagated into voting behavior.

Behavior that perhaps will determine the nominee.

I’m definitely not saying that not-Bush voters will suddenly turn into D voters or non-voters. They certainly will not. They’ll unhappily vote for Team Red no matter what.

I’m betting that the 2016 nominee will be an insurgent. You’re not. (Actually, to be fair, you’re saying that it is much too soon to tell where it’s going, but the likelihood that an insurgent wins the nomination is negligible.)

60. de stijl says:

BTW and off-topic, but I like how you separate your points into discrete comments. I need to follow your example. Subconsciously, I just cram everything into the comment I’m typing right now to sometimes disastrous results.

61. JohnMcC says:

@Steven L. Taylor: I will ‘up-vote’ that and give a shout out to the comment right here. The number of delegates is where the rubber meets the road. Absolutely correct. Delegates at the convention are the sine qua non for the nomination.

But I see that in the ’68 campaign Gov Wallace got only 1 delegate at the Dem convention. He then mounted an independent campaign handicapped by the need to get on the ballot in all 50 states and chose as his VP candidate a certifiable nuclear bombing fanatic named Curtis LeMay and got 10million votes in the general election. That was worth 13.5% of the votes cast that year. He carried 5 states and got 46 electoral votes. And he led the ‘solid south’ out of the D-party for our lifetime.

So I conclude that Mr Trump has many many future surprises for us who are political junkies to anticipate and that he very likely will change the landscape that feels so solid beneath our feet if he so chooses.

62. @de stijl:

That’s a fair point but also a bit of a cop-out.

I have probably responded to specific points a dozen time above and have engaged in a lengthy conversation. That is an odd definition of “cop-out,” yes?

What I have done is ask for evidence or a reasoned argument and mostly you are providing impressions, anecdotes, and gut reactions (am I wrong about that?).

63. @de stijl:

And yet 1964 also happened. And to a lesser degree Reagan happened. Insurgents sometimes win the Republican nomination. What I’m saying is not unprecedented. Don’t act like it isn’t, please.

I don’t understand why you think Goldwater is a good analogy for Trump. Goldwater was a US Senator. Reagan had been Governor of California. Trump has never held elective office nor has he ever run an actual campaign,

(Also: Goldwater was nominated under a different system, i.e., before primaries were central).

64. @de stijl:

but I’d ask you to consider that the attitudinal adjustment that has indisputably happened amongst the Rs over the last 20 years has propagated into voting behavior.

Behavior that perhaps will determine the nominee.

Yes, the party has been changing–I am pretty sure I have commented on that from time to time here at OTB 😉

That does not mean, ergo, that Trump as nominee is the end result of those changes.

65. @JohnMcC: It strikes me as far more likely that Trump will run as an independent than it is that he will be the GOP’s nominee.

66. de stijl says:

I have probably responded to specific points a dozen time above and have engaged in a lengthy conversation. That is an odd definition of “cop-out,” yes?

Do you engage with your students this way?

You may want to rethink that.

67. de stijl says:

@de stijl:

I’m really not fooling when I said that. Dismissiveness. Not a good thing.

You’ve chosen two phrases “gut, mostly” and “cop-out” and rhetorically abused those two dashed off things because it’s the internet and why not? and then fake engaged with me as if those were my core arguments.

You are mostly a fair guy. Be that guy.

Sorry to be tone-policing you.

68. @JohnMcC: George Wallace did not enter the Democratic Primaries, few that there were, in 1968. He only ran as an Independent. Also, the “Solid South” went for Carter so unless you died between 1968 & 1976 it wasn’t for “our lifetime.”

69. @de stijl: In fairness, you are the one who answered a request for evidence with the assertion that you were going with your gut. Likewise, you are the one who raised the issue of a cop out (and I thought my response was legitimate: I have been rather actively engaging, and have tried to provided some very specific reasons to you to support my position).

In further fairness, while you too have been active in the conversation, you have not actually addresses some of my fundamental points.

For example:

1) Apart from intuition, why should this cycle be different in terms of how we should treat polling at this stage of the process?

2) What evidence do you have that once the process hits the delegation selection stage that Trump will be successful? (especially since he has never run a campaign for anything before–something that usually causes problems for candidates–and by usually, I mean always).

3) What about the basic math: Trump still has to assemble more than a quarter to a third of support. Again: the not-Trump support is still two-to-three times larger than the not Trump support. Even with you hypothesis that the GOP has changed over time, there are still plenty of other candidates to choose from, and most are plausible.

4) Even with the party’s changes, it last two nominees were McCain and Romney–ultimately fairly mainstream guys (and Romney was after the Tea Party emerged). There is always a hue and cry from the hardcore conservatives that they want a “real” conservative (this dates back, I would note, to at least the 90s). However, the system tends to nominate relatively mainstream candidates. Why, apart form intuition do you think this time is different?

5) Why do you think that Goldwater (and even Reagan) are analogous to Trump?

70. @de stijl:

and then fake engaged with me as if those were my core arguments.

In my estimation, and I am not being snarky in the least here, those are your core arguments.

Do you engage with your students this way?

No doubt the interchange would be different.

Were I grading, I would have written things like: “Evidence?” on the margin quite a lot and also asked for a more thorough analysis of how your hypothesis would work in light of the institutional parameters of the contest. I would also ask you to look more heavily into to likely predictive power of polls at this stage of the nomination process (as well as to look into fact that at this distance in time, and this far away from an actual choice being made that polls are of limited efficacy). I would likewise suggest some comparative research on the nomination process that brought us Goldwater and that which started in the early 1970s (as well as to look into the evolution of that process).

@Talmadge East can, perhaps, back me up on this.

71. de stijl says:

If I’m reading you correctly, only the 1964, 1976 and 1980 elections are inapplicable and the rest of the elections are fair game and totally applicable.

Those elections and the circumstances that lead to those elections aren’t really evidence.

Republican insurgencies never happen because I cherry pick the sample.

72. @de stijl: I am not saying those elections aren’t evidence (although 1964 used very different rules). I am saying you are not doing much of a job making an argument based on those elections. Also, in 1976 the GOP nominated the sitting president (how is that a good analogy?).

You have not made a case for why Goldwater or Reagan is a good analog to Trump. Just noting Goldwater and 1964 is not an argument.

What is your definition of a “Republican insurgency”?

Again: Reagan was governor of a major state before mounting a run at the nomination. This puts him in a wholly different category than Trump. And Reagan did not run the kind of know nothing populist campaign that Trump is running. Also: Goldwater was a US Senator. Again: a different category than Trump.

I would note: you are not even attempting to answer any of the questions I have asked.

73. de stijl says:

Reagan almost won in 1976, Goldwater won in 1964. But that isn’t evidence.

Republican insurgents never win. Republican insurgencies never happen.

I’m not really sure what you’re advocating anymore. Is it that Trump can’t or won’t win the nomination?

In the face of previous experience you’re stating that Trump or a Trumpabee cannot win?

74. @de stijl: Again: you need to define your terms. What is an “insurgency”?

And again: how is either Reagan or Goldwater, as candidates, analogous to Trump as a candidate?

And yes: I am saying that it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, that Trump will win the nomination of the GOP. Although the thesis of my post is that we cannot call Trump, as you have argued, the run-away front-runner based on current conditions.

You are radically over-estimating what current information is telling you (and a lot of other people are doing the same thing).

75. BTW: Reagan was a mainstream challenger to Ford in 1976 (although yes, more conservative) and was a pretty standard candidate in 1980.

Goldwater was a known representative of one wing of the Republican Party in 1964.

These are not good analogues to Trump.

76. JohnMcC says:

@Talmadge East: Well, my friend, your rather sour sounding response to my comment recalls to me another story. The first American military attache posted to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is supposed to have said to General Giap that in every engagement larger of than company-sized units, the Americans defeated their NVA foes. “That is correct,” the Vietnamese liberator said. “It is also irrelevant.”

You will look in vain for any claim that Gov Wallace entered primaries in ’68 if you are looking at the comment which you imagine you have refuted. You will also look in vain for any indication that Gov and then Pres Carter did not carry southern states in ’76. The southern states carried by Mr Carter voted for a home-boy which is reasonable behavior in the south. Mr Clinton’s nomination (with a VP candidate from a distinguished southern political family) in ’92 sought to duplicate that result and I see that the D-party carried GA, LA, AR, and TN (with Mr Perot’s help) in that election.

So perhaps you are saying that the “solid south” was still a Dem stronghold from ’68 to ’92. In which case you are plainly wrong and whatever you are trying to say regarding Mr Trump’s effect on the R-party is completely irrelevant.

77. de stijl says:

I posted my 11:55 comment before I saw your 11:41 so we’re mixed.

I was somewhat inflammatory in tone.

Apologies.

We are disagreeing on whether a Trump a Trumpabee can win the nom in 2016. Is that a fair statement about our disagreement?

I am saying you are not doing much of a job making an argument based on those elections.

How so? Do you want me to say the usual suspected stuff? That Reagan almost beat Ford in 1976 because a huge chunk of the electorate didn’t want to cope with the fallout from Nixon’s departure?

Also, in 1976 the GOP nominated the sitting president (how is that a good analogy?).

My point was about Reagan, not Ford, but I think you get that.

You have not made a case for why Goldwater or Reagan is a good analog to Trump. Just noting Goldwater and 1964 is not an argument.

What is your definition of a “Republican insurgency”?

Great questions and hard. You’re asking me to define what I believe to be conventional wisdom is and how “insurgents” defy it. What is the “Establishment” and what does it mean to be outside of that? Those questions would take careers and decades to adequately define.

Is it fair to argue that insurgency is like Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it”?

Initially, I’d argue that 1976 Reagan was an insurgent, but 1980 Reagan was Establishment. Why do I think that? Insurgents defy CW and act contrary to (or perhaps sideways to) what the Establishment desires. That would be my working definition.

Perot was an insurgent, but he wasn’t a Republican. No one in power wanted him to be there or wanted him to run.

Given my working definition, I see Trump as an insurgent. No one in the RNC wants Trump to be anything but gone. Is it fair to say that a person who is running for President that the RNC wishes that he wasn’t running an adequate definition of ” Republican insurgent?”

You keep dinging me about evidence. All of this is pollable, but I’m just a guy with a keyboard. I’m not Gallup or Pew.

Trump is an insurgent per my working definition. He is Reince Preibus’ worst nightmare.

Will Trump win the nomination? Don’t know. We’ll see.

I think where we disagree is that I think that Trump could win the nomination if he wants it, and you think that he cannot. Is that fair?

I contend that Trump or an analog is going to beat the establishment Bush or Walker analog.

Also, if Trump wins the nom, he’ll lose big-time, Goldwater-style in the general.

I would note: you are not even attempting to answer any of the questions I have asked.

What leads you to think that Trump can’t win other than your gut?

78. @de stijl:

Is it fair to argue that insurgency is like Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it”?

Actually, no, it isn’t. If you are going to use a term like that, you need to define what you mean.

79. @de stijl:

I disagree,

80. @de stijl:

I contend that Trump or an analog

I don’t think anyone else in the race, save maybe Carson, is in Trump’s category. (As such, I don’t see much merit in the Trumpabee category–which you have not defined).

81. Reagan was a two-term governor of California by 1976. That makes him a traditional candidate.

Goldwater had been a city councilman and two-term US Senator (who had been a candidate for the nomination in 1960) by 1964. That makes him a traditional candidate.

Yes, both represented specific wings of their parties.

Trump is a real estate developer and reality TV star who flirted with running in 2012 and has yet to actually run a real campaign for anything. He is a total political amateur who is polling well in a period of time wherein we often see the polls to be wrong (which I have noted multiple times).

There is no precedence for a rank amateur to win a presidential nomination because it is actually a lot harder to accomplish than it looks. Making cracks at a debate or giving rambling speeches isn’t enough.

And, for the nth time, there is still 2/3rds to 3/4ths of partisan support that he has not yet captured. That is a lot.

You may assert that I have not addressed your questions, or that I have not presented an argument, but, I disagree.

And you position seems to have shifted from “Trump is the run-away front-runner” to “Trump or a Trumpalike might be nominated.”

82. Down-voting really isn’t a response 😉

83. How about this: assuming that Goldwater and Reagan fit your “insurgent Republican” category, they still were major actors in the GOP who had substantial electoral and campaign experience. Further, they both had well-articulated ideological and policy positions.

Trump has none of those characteristics.

84. de stijl says:

Actually, no, it isn’t. If you are going to use a term like that, you need to define what you mean.

Okay. You define it. Then I’ll defend my statements in light of your definition.

I gave my definition. I was being open and honest. I told you that I was working through my thoughts. But I also offered a clear definition right after the bit that you blockquoted.

Yet you pounced on my initial misgivings like a rat does cheese.

You did that thing you do. You see an exploitable statement and you exploit it.

85. @de stijl: Ok, so you have introduced a concept and I am supposed to define it?

You did that thing you do. You see an exploitable statement and you exploit it.

You asked me above if this is how I talk to my students. In this case, yes: if you are going to use terms, you have to know what they mean, and if you are going to make an argument you have to be prepared to defend its weaknesses.

Beyond that, as a conversational issue, it is not fair (and is wholly honest) to as that my interlocutor can explain what he means by a term or idea.

How is that not honest?

But I also offered a clear definition right after the bit that you blockquoted.

No, you didn’t. You cited examples of what you consider insurgents–although the part about the CW is vaguely a definition, I suppose. (Not that I think either Goldwater or Reagan acted contrary to the CW–and I am even sure what that is supposed to mean).

Also: see my comments (multiple ones) on Reagan and Goldwater v. Trump.

86. de stijl says:

Down-voting really isn’t a response.

But abusing your authority as a front-pager who can see who down-votes is totally ethical?

87. Ultimately, perhaps we just need to wait and see at this point.

I suspect that we will have more opportunities to discuss this topic going forward.

Trust me: there is going to be a post from me at some point that either looks back to point out how I had been right about Trump and why what I argued in this post and elsewhere came to pass or one in which I have to state how thoroughly wrong I was. Clearly I think the first scenario to be radically more probable than the second,

And really, all I am arguing here, ultimately, is that getting caught up in the fact that Trump is ahead right now is a mistake and with this fragmented a field no one can be considered a serious front-runner.

88. de stijl says:

Listen, after the down-voting comment where you clearly announced your alpha ownership over this blog you reminded me I only comment here at your indulgence.

A line was crossed.

Bye.

89. I also think that your analysis is hampered by confirmation bias: you want certain things to be true about the GOP and so you see Trump as confirming it (go back to your comments about recent elections).

Quite frankly, I would love for Trump to somehow lead to the reformation of the GOP as I think that would be good for US politics. However, I don’t see that happening (and a party that would actually nominate Trump is unlikely to accept the folly thereof in any event).

I would note that in the Goldwater scenario it is true that Goldwater lost big, but it is also true that this did not result in the party becoming less like Goldwater’s wing, rather the opposite happened.

90. @de stijl:

But abusing your authority as a front-pager who can see who down-votes is totally ethical?

Actually, I can’t see that (or, if I can, I am unaware of how to do so).

Since it is basically just you and me I logically inferred the source of the down-votes (whihc I guess you have confirmed).

91. @de stijl:

Listen, after the down-voting comment where you clearly announced your alpha ownership over this blog you reminded me I only comment here at your indulgence.

A line was crossed.

Bye.

LOL (see comment above)