Republicans May End Up Being Stuck With Trump Whether They Like It Or Not

Whether they like it or not, it's becoming quite apparent that Republicans may have to get used to the idea that Donald Trump really could be their nominee next year.

Trump Nixon V

Another new poll shows Donald Trump leading the Republican field, a position he has been in for over three months now, and perhaps more importantly for the race going forward, the poll also shows that Republicans are increasingly seeing Trump as their party’s inevitable nominee:

Donald Trump leads the Republican presidential field in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, not only in vote preferences but in expectations as well — a remarkable feat for the non-politician who’s surprised the GOP establishment with his staying power as well as his support.

Trump has leveled off with backing from 32 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote, easily enough to retain his frontrunner status. Fellow outsider Ben Carson follows with 22 percent, also flat this month after sharp summertime gains.

Notably, even more leaned Republicans — 42 percent — say they expect Trump to win the GOP nomination for president. And given a list of six potential nominees, 43 percent pick Trump as having the best chance to win the general election just more than a year from now.

Trump also fares well on many key attributes. Nearly half of leaned Republicans — 47 percent — view him as the strongest leader; 39 percent think he’d be best able to handle immigration; 32 percent feel he is closest to them on the issues; and 29 percent say he “best understands the problems of people like you.” In each case he leads the other top-five contenders for the nomination, Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina.

Trump has weaknesses nonetheless. More view Carson as the most honest and trustworthy (33 percent vs. 21 percent for Trump), and Trump trails Bush in having the best experience (31 vs. 23 percent). While 19 percent say Trump has the best personality and temperament to serve effectively as president, that compares with a similar 24 percent for Carson.

(…)

For all the campaigning under way, the overall race for the GOP nomination looks to be on pause, with essentially no change in candidate support since last month. That reflects a loss of momentum for Trump and Carson alike. Still, among their opponents only Rubio cracks the double digits, and just barely, with 10 percent.

%In addition to his appeal to anti-immigration Republicans, Trump’s candidacy is very much bolstered by desire in the party for a political outsider. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents by 57-39 percent say they’re looking for someone from outside the political establishment rather than someone with political experience – drastically different from the 21-76 percent division on this issue among leaned Democrats. And Trump wins 41 percent support from registered leaned Republicans looking for an outsider, vs. 18 percent from those who prefer political experience.

Trump also continues to garner greater support among less educated potential voters — 46 percent among those who haven’t gone beyond high school, vs. 23 percent among those who’ve attended college. And he’s still more popular among men than women, with 37 vs. 27 percent. Indeed white men without a college degree (leaned Republicans overwhelmingly are white) are among his strongest groups in voter preference and on issues and attributes alike.

Trump also does particularly well among leaned Republicans who oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement he, too, opposes. He’s backed by 45 percent of its critics vs. 21 percent of its supporters.

Further, Trump is maintaining his support among groups where it might not be expected — for example, he’s backed by a third of evangelical white Protestants, “very” conservative leaned Republicans and Southerners alike. He has 36 percent support in non-urban areas, vs. 24 percent in cities.

In the actual horse race poll, Trump is back to numbers he hasn’t seen since just before the second Republican debate, suggesting that not only has his slide since then stopped, but that it may have begin to reverse itself. Trump earns the support of 32% of self-identified Republicans in the poll, followed by Ben Carson at 22% and Florida Senator Marco Rubio at 10%. These are the only candidates in double digits in the poll. After Rubio, Jeb Bush clocks in at 7%, Ted Cruz is at 6%, Carly Fiorina is at 5%, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie are at 3%, Rand Paul and John Kasich are at 2%, and every other candidate is at 1% or lower. Factoring this into the RealClearPolitics poll average, Trump is now leading at 27.2% and Carson is average 21.3%, with no other candidate averaging in the double digits at this time. Excluding online polling, Pollster’s average has Trump at 28.6% and Carson at 22%, again with no other candidate averaging in the double digits. What’s important to note about both poll averages, though, isn’t so much the numbers themselves but the trend that you can see in the charts at each site which show Trump clearly dipping in the wake of the last debate, but now rising and seemingly on course to resume the course he had been on since he started leading in the polls at the beginning of July. As I noted yesterday in looking at a larger batch of polls, it seems rather clear that Trump’s decline was a brief one and that there doesn’t seem to be much of anything that he going to knock him out of his spot at the top of the Republican field no matter how much party insiders and pundits might wish otherwise.

All of this leads to the obvious question, is it time for Republicans to admit that the likelihood of Donald Trump accepting the Republican nomination for President in Cleveland next June much higher than they would like it to be, and much higher than they might wish it to be?

Philip Bump is among those who thinks that Trump’s lead is one that still seems “temporary,” but he admits that the numbers are starting to indicate otherwise:

One of the more unusual aspects of Donald Trump’s three-plus months at the top of the Republican presidential field is that to so many, myself included, it still seems like it’s only temporary. A number of people who spend a lot of time looking at the numbers have, since he took the lead in July, written about the various reasons why his lead would be temporary — again, myself included. People who rely on poll data were saying, in some sense, “I’m going with the numbers in my gut.”

But the real numbers, including those in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, support the idea that Trump will continue to lead and that he could win the nomination.

There’s the top-line number, of course, which shows Trump with a lead over the rest of the field. Nearly a third of Republican voters pick Trump as their candidate, followed by 22 percent who choose Ben Carson. As we noted last week, those two share a base of support, meaning that if one were to drop out,the other could and probably would pick up much of his support. In other words: Trump has some room to grow.

The other factor that Bump notes is the one that this new ABC News/Post poll, the fact that Republicans seem to be increasingly seeing Trump as the person who will ultimately win the nomination regardless of who they end up supporting, and that they seem to be having much more positive views of Trump as a candidate. These numbers are important because they tell us at least a little bit about what the people who aren’t backing Trump right now think about him and how they will react as the number of candidates in the race drops and voting actually begins. Even taking the numbers we have at face value right now, the overwhelming majority of self-identified Republicans continue to support candidates other than Donald Trump. The majority of those candidates aren’t likely to be in the race for much longer, though, and at some point those supporters will have to find another candidate. What we don’t know, and won’t really know until it happens, is whether those supporters will jump to Trump or whether they will coalesce around whomever might end up being the anti-Trump candidate(s) as the race goes on. If it’s the former, then Trump’s support will only to continue to grow and the likelihood of him being the nominee will only increase. If it’s the latter, then eventually Trump’s advantages in the race, created largely by the fact that he’s the biggest fish in a crowded pond, while start to disappear. What these numbers seem to suggest is that many Republicans, if not yet a majority, are open to the idea of eventually supporting Trump as the process moves on. If that happens, then Republicans may find themselves stuck with Trump whether they want him or not.

Peter Suderman notes that none of this is escaping the attention of party insiders or conservative pundits, who are in the process of mounting campaigns to derail Trump. As Suderman puts it, though, it may be these party elites who are missing the message that the rise of Trump is sending:

[W]hat does it signal that so much much of the Republican party’s voter base has so enthusiastically supported a non-conservative for this long, and that Trump has now become a serious contender for its nomination? From this one might reasonably conclude that being a conservative may not be an essential requirement for the Republican party’s presidential candidate.

And what that, in turn, suggests is that the GOP of 2015 is not a party that is particularly driven by ideological or policy commitments, but instead is motivated in large part by vacuous, reactionary Trumpism. GOP elites may be trying to rescue the Republican party from Donald Trump, but what if there’s nothing left to save?

Elites themselves bear some responsibility here. What happened to the GOP happened long before Trump’s campaign, in part because its elected leaders in Congress and elsewhere allowed and even encouraged it, harnessing the base’s untempered enthusiasms to their own purposes over the years. It is more than a little bit ironic that the party’s establishment is now attacking Trump for doing roughly the same thing.

Trump isn’t the cause of the Republican party’s troubles so much as their avatar and spokesperson. And the Republican party’s Trump problem isn’t Trump so much as it is the Republican party itself.

Suderman is largely correct here. As I’ve said before, Trump’s appeal is largely rooted in the same forces that brought the Tea Party to such a prominent place inside the Republican Party in such a short period of time, even if Trump isn’t himself a Tea Party candidate per se. In both cases, we have an appeal to populist nostrums regarding immigration, international trade, foreign policy and other issues that quite frankly are nowhere close to being rooted in reality as anyone who actually follows these issues understands it. Yes, it’s a completely substance-free campaign that relies more on Trump’s ability to insult people and get the media to do his bidding than anything else, but it’s working and there’s no sign that will change any time soon. Indeed, every time that Trump’s downfall has been predicted, whether it’s been after his comments about John McCain’s military service,  his attacks on Fox News host Megyn Kelly, or his attacks on Carly Fiorina’s appearance, the predictions have turned out wrong. Most recently, the fact that Trump’s poll numbers were declining the wake of the second debate led many to predict the beginning of the end. That now proves to have been a premature call. Now, there are many thinking that this week’s controversy in which he has goaded Jeb Bush into a public fight over President George W. Bush’s actions before and after the September 11th attacks, many are making the same predictions. Perhaps it will happen, but if all that we’ve seen since July when I said it wouldn’t be easy for Republicans to get rid of Trump is any indication, you’re going to lose money if you bet on the downfall of Donald Trump.

Many conservative pundits, and many of Trump’s opponents have tried to attack Trump by pointing out his past positions on issues, or even his current stance, which don’t really coincide with what you might call conservative orthodoxy. As I’ve pointed out before, though, Trump would not be succeeding in the polls right now, and sustaining his lead for some 100 days now, if he weren’t saying things that many Republican voters agree with. The fact that many of those opposed to him find what he and his supporters are saying to be distasteful on a whole host of issues is really more a reflection of the fact that the party has lost control of the populist wing of the GOP that manifested itself as the Tea Party, and that what we’re seeing here isn’t necessarily all that different from the type of electorate that both Richard Nixon and George Wallace tapped into more than forty-five years ago. Trump is indeed appealing to the worst aspects of American politics, but at least for the time being it’s working and if that continues to happen then Republicans are going to have a real problem on their hand when June 2016 rolls around and it’s time to crown a nominee in Cleveland.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    It’s like of like Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, except in this case the village mob wants to nominate the monster for president….

  2. MarkedMan says:

    If Trump has a real plan for a ground game, then he has a chance. But from the little I’ve heard, he doesn’t have serious organizations in many states. He will get nibbled to death by Bush or Rubio or someone else that understands the mechanics of toting up the delegates. Which is as it should be. If you can’t organize the votes than you are a talker, not an executive.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Republicans are going to nominate a guy whose tax plan swells the deficit by $12T over 10 years.
    Obama, in 7 years, has reduced the deficit by 2/3rds.
    So much for Republican animus towards the President not being about color. Or comb-overs. Or something.

  4. Mu says:

    The question is really, will he be able to pull that “no policy statements” number off until after the nomination? If he does he can go back to his old positions that are really very similar to Hilary’s. So then you get the choice of an anti-immigration pro-gun Hillary and a pro-immigration anti-gun Hillary. Toss-up who wins that one, depending on turn-out.

  5. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: Where’d you cut and paste that number from? It’s nonsense.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    And to think that I was convinced it couldn’t get worse than Sarah Palin.
    Muwahahahahahahahahahahhahahahaha………

  7. Franklin says:

    @Pinky: Which number? The deficit reduction appears to be correct, according to http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_deficit_chart.html.

    I don’t know about the Trump tax plan.

  8. stonetools says:

    Looks like those were hoping that Trump would just dry up and blow away when fall turned to summer are losing hope.
    Meanwhile the party that has the reputation of being the disorganized party that votes with its heart not its head seems on course to pick a woman who, rightly or wrongly, is thought of as a virtual political computer.
    Looks like the Republican Party is on its way to a very messy 2016, while the Democrats will be united and focused on retaining the Presidency. Good.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    I’m sorry Pinky…which number does not fit your ideology????

  10. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    That’s a very telling reply, that you don’t realize every GOP tax plan is a massive give-away to the rich, and simply added to the deficit.

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/09/29/Even-Conservatives-Admit-Trumps-Tax-Plan-Would-Add-Trillions-Deficit

  11. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    There you go Pinky…
    Franklin addressed the deficit and David M. addressed Trumps tax plan.
    @Franklin:
    @David M:
    I await your apology…and your reluctant admission that Democrats are more fiscally responsible than Republicans.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky: @Franklin: Politifact tells the same story.

    Pinky, you may be demonstrating the point @C. Clavin: was making.

    So much for Republican animus towards the President not being about color. Or comb-overs. Or something.

    Why is it someone as interested in politics as you seem to be doesn’t know this?

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I haven’t looked at the effects of Trump’s plan, but if I had to guess, it would be the debt that would increase by $12 trillion–unless his tax cut is so large that the annual gap between tax revenue and spending would be a -$12 trillion.

    You are correct about Obama reducing the deficit by 2/3rds. He hasn’t, however, reduced the debt by 2/3rds.

    EDIT: Yup, I was correct. The link David M provides proclaims a $12 trillion deficit in the headline, then discusses that it would add $11.98 trillion to the debt.

    Words mean things. You would think a place that calls themselves the Fiscal Times wouldn’t make that mistake.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    My bad…but it doesn’t change my point much.
    I do hate it when people conflate deficit and debt…so I’m sorry

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Republicans are going to nominate a guy whose tax plan swells the deficit debt by $12T over 10 years.

  16. David M says:

    This actually tracks with earlier studies showing the general public refuses to believe that actual GOP proposals are true, basically on the grounds they aren’t reasonable. The cartoonish ridiculousness of actual GOP policies actually protects them from criticism.

  17. CSK says:

    Well, if Trump’s the nominee, Hillary Clinton (or any Democratic nominee, for that matter) will be the happy recipient of the biggest landslide since Goldwater-Johnson. Bigger, maybe.

    Trump gives northeast and coastal/urban Republicans an acute case of the pip. It’s amusing that his only campaign rally in Massachusetts was held at an elementary school in a tiny town on the New Hampshire border. His campaign claimed to have overflow crowds–but in this place, six people in the cafeteria counts as an overflow crowd.

  18. JohnMcC says:

    @Neil Hudelson: If one thinks of the national debt as a percentage of the GDP, it has been essentially unchanged from 2010. Pretty impressive given the economic accomplishment of avoiding a 1930s style Great Depression.

    http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/spending_chart_2005_2015USp_XXs2li111mcn_HOfHOsHOl_Total_Debt_as_Percent_GDP

  19. stonetools says:

    The Republican game plan for decades has been pretty much based on the idea that the Republican voter doesn’t how to add, subtract , or divide-or isn’t interested in doing so. What’s interesting is that Pinky immediately dismissed C.Clavin’s number as “absurd” without spending 10 seconds to Google “Trump tax plan.” It’s like he doesn’t even WANT to know-he just dismisses C.Clavin’s claim because it doesn’t jibe with the idea of Republican financial plans as being fiscally irresponsible, or with oft repeated claim that the Obama Administration has “swelled the deficit”.

  20. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: To quote Han Solo, “don’t get too cocky, kid.”

    I predict that if Donald Trump continues to look “lively” to the base, the party poo-bahs will all fall in line behind supporting him. Trump will continue saying whatever the base wants to hear, while the bigwigs will nod their heads sagely, convinced that for all his bluster, Trump will never get around to actually effecting any policies that would carry his goals out.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to think that Hillary will be such a shoo-in. There’s a lot of displeased Americans who are convinced that if we we just throw all those nasty Messicans out and build a wall that Happy Days Will Be Here Again and that jobs will suddenly magically reappear. And they’re happy to be led off the cliff by anyone who promises them what they want to hear, i.e., Donald Trump.

  21. Pinky says:

    @stonetools: No, stone, I didn’t bother clicking on it because it was nonsensical. Trump would have to double the size of the federal government and reverse the tax code so that everyone received income benefits and still it wouldn’t have made sense to say that his plan was going to increase the deficit by $12 trillion. Anyone should have been able to look at that number and know it was absurd. Cliffy didn’t, Franklin didn’t, David M didn’t, and gVOR08 said that I was a primitive because I didn’t know that the number was right. All of you failed to use the smell test because the number agreed with your ideology. It wasn’t just that Cliffy said it that made me know it was wrong, and it wasn’t because I’m ignorant that I knew it was wrong. I knew it was wrong because it was obviously, completely nonsensical. Pardon me if this looks like gloating, but seriously, you guys should be embarrassed by this. If some crank posted a claim about black UN helicopters taking over California, would you research it and find out it was wrong? No, you wouldn’t have to, because the claim was absurd.

  22. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    Um, if that was your issue, pointing out the incorrect usage of debt or deficit would have been much clearer. You focused on the number, which wasn’t really the problem.

    And actually, given that the quote was “swells the deficit by $12T over 10 years”, I’m not completely sure that it’s wrong. He didn’t say it increased the deficit by $12T per year, which appears to be how you misread it.

    TL/DR: Pinky is trolling again

  23. James Pearce says:

    at least for the time being it’s working and if that continues to happen then Republicans are going to have a real problem on their hand when June 2016 rolls around and it’s time to crown a nominee in Cleveland.

    I took Paul Ryan’s press conference last night as an implicit admission that the House GOP will be dealing with a Republican president next time around and that 8 more years of constant opposition will leave the party weaker than it is now.

  24. Pinky says:

    @David M: Of course it was the problem. Anyone could see that. Somehow you still can’t, even after it’s been spelled out. Which of us is trolling based on ideology?

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce: Did you misstate that?

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @David M:

    This actually tracks with earlier studies showing the general public refuses to believe that actual GOP proposals are true, basically on the grounds they aren’t reasonable. The cartoonish ridiculousness of actual GOP policies actually protects them from criticism.

    This is a problem I’ve had time and again when I’ve discussed those proposals with friends who don’t spend as much time paying attention to politics. They sometimes assume I’m making it up because they can’t believe a rational American politician would actually be saying and proposing such things.

  27. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    Did you misstate that?

    Doh! I did!

    The revision:

    I took Paul Ryan’s press conference last night as an implicit admission that the House GOP will be dealing with a Democratic president next time around…

  28. Dave Francis says:

    Unfortunately, the Republican establishment, are not Tea Party Constitutionalists–but they are currently in control of Capitol Hill. The real Conservative branch are struggling to find a candidate for Speaker of the house. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has dropped his bid as being unsuccessful in achieving enough votes, seeing his adviser the prior Speaker John Boehner is finally retiring. A number of names have surfaced as potential successors to John Boehner and not another Professional class politician elected to Speaker of the House? Nor a Paul Ryan who is NOT a Constitutionalist, to any extent of the word. We need the People’s speaker of the House.

    Yesterday we saw the Democratic war lords crush a law that would end the scourge and impediment to federal ‘Sanctuary Cities’ even after the hue and cry of Kate Steinle, young women, murdered by an illegal alien in the Liberalized city of San Francisco. But this is just one citizen murdered by a foreign national who had not been deported. However their are many more crimes hidden from public view by the biased mainstream press.

    Democrats are still holding the high ground on illegal immigration as this administration has done little to stem the interlopers; draining our welfare services, stealing jobs that belong to US citizens and lawful immigrants. The Democrat Party zealots are ignoring our Constitution and with intent aiding and abetting the illegal invasion of our Country. Do millions of people know it is a violation of Title 8 Section 1324 United States Code “aiding, abetting, encouraging, harboring, transporting, and hiring illegal aliens is a felony.” Also Title 18 Section 611 US Code forbids non citizens from voting in our election. Citizens must be vigilant in any election, caucus and finally the general election. The Democrats will plead ignorance that illegal aliens don’t vote, but this coming presidential election is critical to America’s future that the authorities use every method available to stop this travesty to our Democracy. If non citizens vote in a close race, it would be a catastrophe to the election system.

    Under the regime of His Royal highness Barack Obama he has sold America down the road. IRAN stands out as a $150 Billion loadstone to a terrorist, religious, fanatical nation. Leaving the Jewish state to fend for itself, knowing the danger is real. Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that Barack Obama’s February and March 2015 travel for golf vacations and fundraisers totaled $4,436,245.50 in taxpayer-funded transportation expenses. Donald Trump needs nothing from the Federal Coffers; he doesn’t need a salary as President and what seems elusive to the Democrats is Trump is completely free from powerful donors, who buy votes from individual corrupt lawmakers. Judicial Watch writes The Obama administration insists the southern border is secure, yet dozens of illegal aliens from terrorist nations entered the United States through Mexico and are being held in a Texas Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processing center.

    As I see ahead, with Donald Trump taking head-on multinational corporations that profits from taking workers jobs overseas and their installations as well such as Ford auto manufacturing, Nabisco mega companies; each entity will have to pay a 35 percent tariff on products, parts until America is presented with a balanced playing field, called true Fair Trade–not what exists now with Mexico, China and a host of other foreign countries. That’s just one terrific proposal that will regenerate 100s of billions of dollars for our country, instead of adding to our countries riches being procured to foreign nations. To supplement our national security to once again build a frontier wall; then towering above Russia and China’ s military, a United States armed forces to be proud of, not another Pentagon Decimation under Obama’s policies; then reinvesting in every Veteran full care, instead of being treated as a second class citizen, while illegal immigrants are catered too.

    Immigration laws will be once again strictly enforced and Trump will instruct Homeland Security and ICE to implement a port of entry/exit tracking system and the National MANDATORY E-VERIFY system. IT will serve as a deterrent against business owner who insist of using unauthorized labor. No more OPTIONAL hiring and company owners can go to prison, while illegal workers will be deported. Mechanisms against welfare and cheap labor will be stemmed the tide of Overstays’ who lie giving the impression to Customs and Immigration that they are just visitors. That under new immigrants classifications they must be (STEM) skilled workers and not cradle to grave welfare seekers.

  29. David in KC says:

    @Pinky: The point that it muddles debt vs deficit has been made, but do you have a problem with the republican front runner with a plan that swells the DEBT by $12T? Also, the article clearly states the increase is to the debt. why didn’t you even peruse the article? Because it doesn’t square with your ideology?

  30. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    I’mma let you slide on this one, Pinks, if only because C. Clav did say deficit when he meant debt. Still you could have pointed that out to us yokels WHY you thought it was nonsense , and you provided a link. Of course, if you did that, you would have had to concede the larger point that Trump’s tax plan IS nonsense, and would greatly increase both the deficit AND the debt. But you skate this time, partner. Be warned, though, we’re watching you:-).

  31. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky: Just for giggles I Googled “trump tax plan 12 trillion deficit” and immediately turned up headlines stating 12T added to the deficit, not the debt, from POLITICO (unsurprising), the NY Post, and Forbes. And a WSJ blog citing the Tax Foundation as saying the same thing. So yes, you are correct. C. should have said “debt”. But he had a lot of company and his meaning was clear unless you insist on misunderstanding. And yes, many of us misunderstood your kvetch. Perhaps because you went out of the way to be obscure? You put a lot of time into parsing and nit-picking everybody else’s writing. Perhaps if you put some time into your own writing you wouldn’t be misunderstood so much.

  32. Steve V says:

    @stonetools: I think Pinky cares more to play Columbo with the liberals here than actually say what he thinks on the issues.

  33. DA says:

    It seems to me that there’s a precedent for just about anything happening. For example, Howard Dean was the leader right up until voting started, and then suddenly wasn’t. Mitt Romney was the leader until voting started, many Republicans weren’t all that enthusiastic about him, but he continued to lead and won the nomination. Both of those cases resulted in losing the presidency, of course. On the other hand, Bill Clinton wasn’t leading and didn’t win any of the first ten or so states, and then won the nomination and the presidency.

    All of this is to say, it won’t be over until it’s over, and who knows what will happen. For sure, someone will be the Republican nominee. My best guess is that it will be either Trump or Carson, because the current Republican rhetoric and mindset are seemingly incompatible with actually governing, and the politicians in the race necessarily have some (however slight) connection to governing.

  34. Mikey says:

    @DA:

    Howard Dean was the leader right up until voting started, and then suddenly wasn’t.

    Dean did himself in with the “HIYAAAAA!” thing. I don’t think that would happen to Trump. It’s been shown he can get away with saying pretty much anything.

  35. Pinky says:

    @gVOR08: Obscure? This was obvious. A 10-year-old could have spotted it. (I say 10, because by that age they’re usually out of the “million-billion-bazillion plus one” phase.) You said

    Why is it someone as interested in politics as you seem to be doesn’t know this?

    but you didn’t know that the deficit couldn’t be raised $12 trillion. Dave Francis just posted, and you know what, I’m not going to bother fact-checking him either, because he’s a lot like Clavin.

    @stonetools: Clavin posted a hack comment. I said it was a hack comment. The locals defended it. It was a hack comment. Even Clavin admitted it was a hack comment. And you’re going to give me a pass on it? Don’t! Write it down. Make a big deal out of it. Make comments like

    What’s interesting is that Pinky immediately dismissed C.Clavin’s number as “absurd” without spending 10 seconds to Google “Trump tax plan.” It’s like he doesn’t even WANT to know-he just dismisses C.Clavin’s claim because it doesn’t jibe with the idea of Republican financial plans as being fiscally irresponsible, or with oft repeated claim that the Obama Administration has “swelled the deficit”.

    when Clavin made that exact mistake. Truth is an affirmative defense, you know.

    @David in KC:

    why didn’t you even peruse the article?

    Because what Clavin wrote was obviously false.

    Because it doesn’t square with your ideology?

    No, actually, I oppose Trump because ideologically I’m a conservative.

    It’s been pointed out that Trump doesn’t act like a rich man; he acts like a poor man thinks a rich man acts. Well, he also acts like a liberal thinks a conservative acts, and like a woman thinks a man acts. I assume he’s rich, and he’s arguably a man, but he’s no conservative. I criticize Trump on this site, and I criticize him more harshly than others in the sense that I do it based on what he says, not on a bogus cut-and-paste.

    I also oppose Trump for non-ideological reasons: namely, that he’s inexperienced and has no morals. But I oppose him on ideological grounds as well.

  36. Chip Daniels says:

    Dave Francis’ comment is terrific in that it displays with raw heartfelt honesty the conservative populist stance.
    It’s nothing to do with Burke an modesty, minimal government, or any of the high minded stud trotted out by the Federalist or National Review crowd.
    In order to accomplish even a fraction of those proposals the federal government would have to balloon up to a size, scope, and power that would make FDR drool with envy.

    I’m really coming around to Corey Robin’s thesis about conservatism being about the maintenance of privilege and the newer theory about the Radical Middle, where the enemies to be crushed are both above and below.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    You just sent me down an internet rabbit hole reading about Corey Robin. Thanks.

  38. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    Crickets….c’mon Pinky…don’t be that way

  39. MBunge says:

    @MarkedMan: If Trump has a real plan for a ground game

    Ground game, like most other stuff professional politicians obsess about, only matters if things are close. 7% guy isn’t beating 25% guy with any tactics or small ball maneuvering.

    The only unknown here is Trump’s refusal to abide by elite social norms in politics. He has no interest at all in any of the kabuki theater that swallows up everything in our politics.

    Mike

  40. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky: @Pinky:
    So all that sound and fury was over him quoting someone using the word deficit instead of debt?
    There are two reasonable choices when encountering that type of error:
    1) You can have your gotcha moment and give CClavin some minor shaming
    2) You can read for understanding and address what we all knew he meant
    As others have pointed out, if you had simply called him on that misuse the issue would have been over and done. If you had read for understanding and disagreed we might have had a productive discussion. Instead you chose route 3, a coy but confrontational response. If, as it seems, you did so to draw people out to his defense so you could have your gotcha on the gang afterwards, that is rather the text book definition of trolling.

    Do you have any interest in discussing the actual point of the linked article beyond one misused word?

    BTW I’ve been reading this week and have seen almost no mentions of racism. Could it be that it isn’t so prevalent as you and Drew (Guarneri) were saying?

  41. Thomas Weaver says:

    Dejected? Disappointed? Nah, after watching 50 years of politicians – Trump surely can’t do any worse then the last six. Let’s put a real elephant in the office and mash the hell out of the current establishment: Maybe, just maybe he will do something that 60% of the population would like to see.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @MBunge: I don’t profess to be an expert in delegate totin’, but wasn’t at least part of Obama’s win against Clinton due to the fact that his ground team recognized that rule changes in a number of states would give an advantage to a different strategy? To me, that’s shows the importance of retail politics. Especially if you have to show viability in order to gain momentum

  43. DrDaveT says:

    @Grewgills:

    So all that sound and fury was over him quoting someone using the word deficit instead of debt?

    Y’know, I’m going to side with Pinky on this one. C Clavin said something totally impossibly stupid. Yes, a clever and motivated reader could have deduced the source of the error, but that’s not the point — the point was that it was impossibly stupid. Pinky called him on that, and 17 regulars reflexively jumped on him for it, despite the fact that he was clearly right and they were clearly wrong. That’s sad. And you really can’t defend the mass stomping on the grounds that he didn’t phrase his dismissal of Teh Stupid the way you would have preferred him to. It wasn’t his Stupid; he has no obligations along those lines.

    If you say deficit when you meant debt, and persist in defending it even when someone suggests you’ve said something stupid, you’ve lost the intellectual high ground. If you pause to ridicule the person who pointed out Teh Stupid on the way, you’ve also lost the moral high ground. The appropriate response at this point is to apologize to Pinky, correct your statements, then seek to engage him (and everyone else) on the corrected facts about Trump’s tax plan.

  44. DrDaveT says:

    @Dave Francis:

    Yesterday we saw the Democratic war lords crush a law that would end the scourge and impediment to federal ‘Sanctuary Cities’ even after the hue and cry of Kate Steinle, young women, murdered by an illegal alien in the Liberalized city of San Francisco.

    Dave Francis sounds eerily like the parodies of Pravda that some of my friends used to write as freshmen in college back in the ’80s. Warren… is that you?

  45. Stonetools says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Hey look , the guy is right about once a year, let him have his moment. Let’s note for the record that you made a mistake, and admitted it right away, instead of trying to defend it and pretending that you never made the mistake, like some people we know. I seem to remember a statement about cops…
    Let’s also note for the record that your mistake doesn’t mean Trump’s tax plan is any less nonsensical. That’s the bigger point, which Pinky is pointedly ignoring.

  46. Steve V says:

    @DrDaveT: You know, some of us work for a living and kinda skim comments quickly. Some of us probably write them quickly too. I didn’t even notice what C’s comment said until Huddleson clarified. Clavin isn’t my favorite commenter (I think he’s unnecessarily nasty) btw so I’m not exactly defending him; I just think the bold proclamation of liberal ignorance/idiocy Pinky’s trying to make are just a little overblown.

  47. David M says:

    Republicans are going to nominate a guy whose tax plan swells the deficit by $12T over 10 years.

    I mentioned this before, but this actually isn’t wrong. It may not be the ideal wording, but the the 10-year deficit is a real thing, and Pinky’s gotcha was bogus. The yearly deficit and 10-year deficit aren’t the same thing, and it should be obvious this sentence wasn’t about the deficit for a single fiscal year.

    Trump’s tax plan was evaluated over the next 10 years, and it was reported by several news sources that it would “add $11.98 trillion to the 10-year deficit“.

    If Pinky wants to play stupid, pointless semantic word games, then he stepped on his own rake here. There’s plenty of articles referring to a 10 year deficit.

  48. Grewgills says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Arguably 5 commenters jumped on him, 6 if you include me. Franklin merely addressed the deficit reduction, which was correct.
    I have to admit I autocorrected deficit to debt when I read CClavin’s original comment and I would guess others did the same. I don’t think it required me being particularly clever or motivated, just aware of how common that mistake is even in places much more formal than here. Pinky was right to point out the mistake, However, when he did so he wasn’t at all clear about what the mistake was and unless the reader was clever and motivated enough they would not know which part of the comment he was referring to. Did he mean the deficit reduction was BS? Did he mean the ballooning deficit was BS? Did he just mean that the number for the deficit reduction or the deficit increase was BS? Did he mean all of it was BS? I took him to mean the entire comment was cut and paste BS because of the way he phrased it. Clearly the first part of the original comment was correct and the second part should have read either debt or ten year deficit rather than simply deficit. CClavin did the right thing and apologized for his mistake when it was made clear what the actual criticism was, so I don’t know that that qualifies as continuing to defend it.

    To be fair, if Pinky had made the same error regarding deficit and debt there probably would have been a crowd piling on him for it and some of them would have been as imprecise in their dismissal and some might have been more rude about it.

  49. jukeboxgrad says:

    DrDaveT:

    C Clavin said something totally impossibly stupid.

    That’s an overstatement. C. Clavin said this:

    Republicans are going to nominate a guy whose tax plan swells the deficit by $12T over 10 years.

    WSJ said this:

    Trump’s proposal would increase deficits by about $10 trillion over the next decade

    Look how similar those statements are. They are both saying essentially the same thing. Trump’s plan would increase the deficit by roughly $120B/year, which adds up to “$12T over 10 years.”

    The WSJ statement is clearer only because it says “deficits” (plural), where C. Clavin said “deficit” (singular), but making a fuss about that one letter is stupid. The words “over 10 years” make it clear enough that C. Clavin is talking about the aggregate of multiple deficits, not just one deficit.

    Pinky said this:

    Clavin posted a hack comment. I said it was a hack comment.

    The “hack” is Pinky. If he were not a hack, he would have said something like this:

    I think you meant to say “deficits,” not “the deficit.”

    But he is a hack, which is why he didn’t just say that, and why he’s still using that problem as an excuse to avoid the actual issue.

  50. jukeboxgrad says:

    Stonetools:

    Let’s note for the record that you (C. Clavin) made a mistake, and admitted it right away, instead of trying to defend it and pretending that you never made the mistake, like some people we know. I seem to remember a statement about cops…

    This is an important point. All humans make mistakes, so when we notice that someone made a simple mistake, probably we have learned nothing about them except that they are human. However, not all humans are hacks. It’s the behavior after the mistake is noticed that tells us whether or not someone is a hack.

  51. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @ no one in particular: There’s also the problem that “debt” and “deficit” are synonymous.
    http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/debt?s=t

  52. Franklin says:

    BTW, Carson is apparently ahead of Trump in this morning’s Iowa poll.

    I thought Carson’s peak had come and gone. Shows how much I know.

  53. gVOR08 says:

    @Franklin: Heard commentary that he’s got a great ground organization in Iowa, built on existing Evangelical home-schooler networks. Apparenlty they’ve taught his story for years, presumably as an example of success through hard work and merit (and those people aren’t really discriminated against). Too lazy to look up numbers but I would guess there are way fewer home-schoolers in New Hampshire.

  54. C. Clavin says:

    Pinky is still not addressing the issue.
    And it doesn’t matter if he supports Trump or not…although you can bet your brass buttons he will if Trump gets the nomination because, Clinton.
    The fact is that every single tax plan put out by the Republican candidates are essentially the same. Cut taxes on the rich, and explode the deficit and the debt to pay for it. There is not a single Republican candidate who has proposed a fiscally responsible economic plan.
    That’s what Pinky refuses to address…because I made a small error and corrected it immediately…which somehow doesn’t meet his high standards. You know…like the way he has responded to his own claim about liberals celebrating the death of cops.

    If some of you guys believed the things you’ve typed over the last few months, two dead cops should be like an early Christmas present for you.

  55. Neil Hudelson says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Ahh, but you see the content, context, and implied meanings behind speech does not matter. The exact definition of every word does. For Pinky to imply that the liberal commentors here love dead cops is OK, because his exact words, taken one at a time, in his mind are factually correct.

    Whereas your mistake is an affront to logical and civilized conversation. It was such an alarming mistake that Pinky couldn’t even notify you; he was too busy shielding his eyes from the atrocity.

    At least that’s what I’ve picked up reading his comments over the past few months.

    For the record, it looked like my comment to you was semi-snarky, when actually I was just trying to head off the back and forth between you and Pinky, since it was obvious Pinky was trying to troll you by not acknowledging the debt/deficit mistake. My apologies.

  56. C. Clavin says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Seriously? I don’t think he picked up on the debt/deficit mistake until you pointed it out. My money says he was simply incredulous that Obama had reduced the deficit by 2/3rds. Not that he will ever admit that.

  57. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The fact is that every single tax plan put out by the Republican candidates are essentially the same.

    To be fair, there are detail differences. IIRC Bush proposed a cut in the top rate resulting in 3T more debt over 10 years. Then Rubio came out with a bigger cut and 5T. Then Trump came out with an even bigger cut and 12T. Proving once again – the first liar hasn’t got a chance.

    Pinky, this all top of the head recollection. Please, please don’t come after me if Rubio’s plan would really be only 4T of new DEBT over 10 years.

  58. Neil Hudelson says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Fair enough. Could be.

  59. Monala says:

    @grumpy realist: I can’t find the article, but the Washington Post recently ran something recently on psychologists analyzing the “Trump Effect” (meaning why he is so appealing to his followers). They came up with three reasons, all rooted in human nature:

    1) We like people who are bold and energetic
    2) We like simple solutions to complex problems
    3) We dislike people not like us (tribalism)

    I found the article interesting, because it gives hints for how Democrats can carry out their campaign by focusing on the positive aspects of 1-3 above. For #1, Hilary Clinton (I’m presuming she’ll be the nominee) can continue to work on the warmth and energy she demonstrated in the recent Dem debate.

    For #2, we can work on not simplifying our solutions, but simplifying our message. I remember when Prop 74 (SSM) won in Washington, some pundits pointed out that proponents had captured the simple, positive message, “It’s about family” and stole the thunder from anti-marriage equality forces. So Dems: lose some of the wonkiness, figure out the messages that appeal.

    For number 3, help people expand their definition of “tribe” to be more inclusive. De Blasio’s 2012 campaign ad is considered a good example of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzAXZ8N5aVQ