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Springtime for Donald

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beer

What does Donald Trump actually want? That is the practical question posed by his increasingly bizarre, and increasingly successful, “campaign.” Jon Chait gets the essence of Trump’s appeal exactly right: it’s not just that, as many people have noted, Trump employs an air raid siren rather than a dog whistle when pandering to the racist id of the GOP base — it’s that he has either cannily decided to exploit, or simply stumbled upon, the huge disconnect between that base and the party elites:

By design or (more likely) by accident, Trump has inhabited a ripe ideological niche. Both parties contain ranges of opinions within them. And both are run by elites who have more socially liberal and economically conservative views than their own voters. (There are plenty of anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-same-sex-marriage Democrats not represented by their leaders.) But the tension between base and elite runs deeper in the Republican Party. Conservative leaders tend to care very little about conservative social policy, or even disagree with it altogether. Conservative [leaders] care a great deal about cutting the top tax rate, deregulating the financial industry, and, ideally, reducing spending on social insurance — proposals that have virtually no authentic following among the rank and file.

This chart by Lee Drutman, tracking public opinion on immigration and Social Security, displays the disconnect:

ss table

The sparsely filled bottom right corner represents the libertarian-ish leanings of the Republican elite, which would like to liberalize immigration law and decrease Social Security benefits. The upper left corner, thick with dots, represents the populist, opposite combination: higher Social Security spending and less immigration. The Republican field — all of which, other than Trump, has endorsed raising the Social Security retirement age — is fighting over the tiny right side, leaving the huge upper left all to Trump. A new poll shows Trump leading New Hampshire with 35 percent, and the next-highest candidate, John Kasich, pulling in 11 percent. A South Carolina poll has Trump pulling in 30 percent of the vote.

Trump has homed in on a bona fide weakness in the Republican Party structure, one that has fascinated liberal critics in particular. The Republican Party has harnessed one set of passions, and then channeled them into unrelated policy outcomes favored by the party elite. Historically, the passions they have harnessed have revolved around foreign policy — like anti-communism, or the surge in nationalism following 9/11. Some of those passions have revolved around culture — a love of guns, the Pledge of Allegiance, a disdain for politicians who look kind of French, and so on.

But the classic formula seems to be yielding diminishing returns.

So what, ultimately, is Trump trying to accomplish?

Which brings us back to the question of what it is Trump is after. His presidential campaign seems to have come at enormous financial cost. His undisguised (or less-disguised) racism has made him an economic pariah. He has lost sponsorship agreements from a long list of corporations that want to sell things to people who aren’t white. He’s traded his lucrative brand for Pat Buchanan’s brand.

This immunity from consequence gives Trump the power to wreak apparently limitless havoc upon what is currently his party. The consequences Republicans impose for Trump’s offenses have no effect on him. You cannot threaten a man if you don’t even know what he cares about. Is Trump running to spite the reporters who mocked him as a bluffer? As an expensive lark, like the time he got piano lessons from Elton John? To use his political fame to trade up for his next wife? Does Trump actually believe he can become president of the United States?

It’s a good question, and my guess of an answer is that Trump’s campaign started as a publicity stunt, but has since spun out of control. It’s the plot of The Producers, but, increasingly, the joke’s on the GOP. And, now that Trump’s bottomless narcissism is being fed by the spectacle of his transformation into a “serious” candidate, it’s hard to predict where all this will ultimately end up.

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  • Judas Peckerwood

    The essence of Trump’s appeal is succinctly explained in that quote often attributed (probably erroneously) to Mr. Barnum.

    • I’ve described him as a combination of Huey Long, Perot, Wallace, Leona Helmsley and Barnum.

      • I despise Hercule Perot as much as the next man, but I fail to see the Trump in him.

        • Hogan

          It’s the “combover.”

        • wjts

          Trump’s little grey cells are very little indeed.

        • Matt McIrvin

          After he builds a wall all around the US, the next step is to announce that somebody in this country IS A MURDERER.

      • Ken

        Perot, or Peron?

        • IM

          Juan or Evita?

          • Ahuitzotl

            Isabella …. the Spirits of the House will be much invoked, or at least drunk

  • “…it’s hard to predict where all this will ultimately end up.”

    And for a lot of pundits, that’s the worst thing about the Trump candidacy. They don’t have an ‘effin’ clue, and they’re frantic about being found out to be like everyone else watching this spectacle.

    • BTW, we’re seeing the GOP ripped open, where you have racists who most fear change, and plutocrats who most fear populists, regardless of whether they’re populists of the left or populists of the right.

      • Murc

        I’m less sure about that. People always say a political party is being “ripped open” during contentious primaries and usually by the September before the election its like “oh yeah, that was a thing” if anyone even remembers it at all.

        • Can you name a time since 1964 for the Republicans and 1968 for the Dems that there was a bigger ideological rift in one of the two parties? I’m not saying Republican base voters won’t vote for the eventual nominee in November; the tribalism is strong, and while there won’t be a black man for the Dems, Hillary or whoever might defeat her is more than enough to vote against. But it’s not implausible that this is a disastrous nomination battle for them that doesn’t get repaired by November.

          • efgoldman

            Can you name a time since 1964 for the Republicans and 1968 for the Dems that there was a bigger ideological rift in one of the two parties?

            I’m not sure it’s “ideological”, though, Dana.
            None of the other klowns in the klown kar profess anything different than what Trump and the opossum on his head have been saying – they were just used to saying it with less-specific dog whistles. The Donald has draw n them out, and forced them to let their freak flags fly.
            No matter who gets the nom, there is no way, this cycle, that s/he will be able to run away from the RWNJ krazy in the general.

            • I dunno, I think cut Social Security, put the guv’mint’s hands on your Medicare, and we think Wall Streeters are dreamy is fundamentally opposite of don’t change Social Security, keep the guv’mint’s hands off your Medicare, and fuck those losers on Wall Street.

              • efgoldman

                I think cut Social Security, put the guv’mint’s hands on your Medicare, and we think Wall Streeters are dreamy is fundamentally opposite of don’t change Social Security, keep the guv’mint’s hands off your Medicare, and fuck those losers on Wall Street.

                That’s correct, but it appears pretty clear that it’s the nativism that is the major driver of The Donald’s success so far.

        • Pat

          Well, one big difference between Trump and the other klowns is that Trump believes in making a deal. This is completely different from the Republican party ever since the first term of Bush I.

          Since then, Republicans have refused most deals unless the economy was completely collapsing. The right wing media circus won’t allow it.

          Trump’s big selling point, though, is that he specializes in making deals. I think this is the most interesting possibility of a Trump presidency.

          • Ahuitzotl

            the first term of Bush I

            that was cruel :)

            • Pat

              And an error…

          • tsam

            Trump would call “heads I win, tails you lose” a deal. I’m not optimistic that he’ll be any more willing to negotiate something sane and rational than the current shit show in Congress.

  • Murc

    I think at this point Trump actually for-real wants to be President and thinks he can win.

    • Brien Jackson

      I mean, he’s got to have the best odds of any of the GOP candidates at this point.

    • Malaclypse

      Yep. If we learned anything from Mittens, it is that CEO candidates are really good at surrounding themselves with sycophants. Just like Mittens was sure on Election Eve he would win, so is Trump.

      • Another lesson: If you can outspend a bunch of nitwits by a 10-1 margin, you can probably win, even if you’re a flawed candidate. And Mittens did get elected governor of MA. He was a flawed candidate, but he wasn’t without skill. He was better than anyone in this field. And he had far, far more money than anyone who ran against him.

        • Malaclypse

          “I’m Mitt Romney The Donald, bitches, and I’m all you got.”

          Has a certain logic.

        • efgoldman

          If you can outspend a bunch of nitwits by a 10-1 margin, you can probably win, even if you’re a flawed candidate.

          I think that’s the thing that scares what’s left of the establishment the most. Jeb! just held a huge fundraising event in NY. Ordinarily it would have been at least partly designed to scare the other klowns, and maybe force some out of the race; but Trump and the opossum on his head won’t be intimidated. He’s the first candidate, really since Nelson Rockefeller, who can self-fund a national campaign. The Kochs don’t scare him; Sheldon Adelson adn Foster Fries(sp?) are basically background buzz.

          And Mittens did get elected governor of MA. He was a flawed candidate, but he wasn’t without skill.

          Well, yeah, but he was either a lying sack of shit when he ran for governor (believed in a woman’s right to choose, among other things) or a lying sack of shit when he ran for president (right to life! right to life! Always believed in right to life!).

          • MAJeff

            Well, yeah, but he was either a lying sack of shit when he ran for governor (believed in a woman’s right to choose, among other things) or a lying sack of shit when he ran for president (right to life! right to life! Always believed in right to life!).

            Both/and.

            • burritoboy

              Perhaps, and even worse, he never cared whatsoever what he had to promise, so that he was willing to say whatever sounded best at the different relevant moments to placate an audience. And cared nothing for consistency.

              • efgoldman

                Perhaps, and even worse, he never cared whatsoever what he had to promise, so that he was willing to say whatever sounded best at the different relevant moments to placate an audience.

                Well, that’s Mittster in a nutshell, on a carousel.
                But I think “lying sack of shit” is more concise.

          • Pat

            Remember, PACs have to pay 10 times for advertising what the campaigns do.

            • That’s not accurate. TV stations aren’t required to give them the discount they’re required to give candidate campaigns, so all things equal they pay maybe 30-40% more per gross ratings point. They can end up paying a higher % if the candidate campaign makes the purchase (vs simply reserving the time) early, which the Obama campaign did effectively in 2012. So if a campaign buys really early, plus gets the candidate discount, and the independent expenditure campaign (which isn’t limited to SuperPAC’s, but also includes party committees like state parties, DSCC/NRSC, DCCC/NRCC, etc) buys really late, and demand has skyrocketed in the time between the candidate’s early buy, you may get an even bigger disparity between the dollar value of the candidate’s buying and the IE’s buying. But I’d be surprised if it’s ever 10 times. I haven’t had to deal with this stuff personally since 2010, so maybe things have really changed. But my guess is it’s seldom more than double per GRP (which, btw, is the relevant comparison, not number of ads, because you pay based on the viewership, so a single spot during a prime time sports event will cost you dozens of times more than a spot on the Sunday 5:00am local news).

              • Pat

                Thanks! I was mis-informed.

      • Warren Terra

        CEO candidates are really good at surrounding themselves with sycophants.

        I will continue to suggest that anyone who hasn’t read it should read McKay Coppins’s 2014 tale of watching Trump toy with running for office. The most interesting stuff is all about Trump interacting with the weenies who want to bask in the glow of his hair and cash his checks.

        Or if you don’t want to read it, just enjoy the picture of Trump at his desk in his office. It’s megalomaniarrific!

    • Nobdy

      I think he wants to win the election but I’m not sure he wants to BE president.

      Presidentin’ is real hard, even if you half-ass it like Bush did.

      I could almost imagine the Donald winning the election and then pullin’ a Palin and quitting, though probably not because he could never admit defeat. He will just busy himself tearing down the White House to replace it with something classy and ‘uge, and ignore actually governing.

      Can anyone imagine the Donald actually doing the work to be informed on issues or get bills through congress? He likes golfing and tweeting and spewing nonsense in front of adoring fans. He would be miserable as actual Commander in Chief.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Do you think trump understands any of this? And if he were to find himself in office, he’ll throw tantrums about how unfair it is that the world won’t submit to his will.

        • Pat

          California already did this, once. They elected Schwartzenegger governor.

          What ended up happening was that the Governator started making deals with the Democrats just to keep the state afloat. And the Republican political rank and file abandoned him. He was into renewable energy, and they just couldn’t support that.

      • Murc

        Can anyone imagine the Donald actually doing the work to be informed on issues or get bills through congress? He likes golfing and tweeting and spewing nonsense in front of adoring fans. He would be miserable as actual Commander in Chief.

        Here’s the thing, though. Bush was surrounded by people who were actually interested in doing that kind of stuff even if he wasn’t, and he was enough of an empty suit to let them have their way.

        Trump will simply not do stuff if he finds it makes him miserable, and so it won’t get done. Who is going to MAKE him do ANYTHING? A President doesn’t actually have to do all that much if he doesn’t want to. Trump might get frustrated if something catches his attention he can’t immediately make happen, but let’s be honest, enough power has devolved onto the executive branch by now that there will be plenty for him to amuse himself with if he feels like it. Murdering faraway brown people is a sport that could easily occupy him for four years, for example.

      • ajp

        Can anyone imagine the Donald actually doing the work to be informed on issues or get bills through congress? He likes golfing and tweeting and spewing nonsense in front of adoring fans. He would be miserable as actual Commander in Chief.

        If George “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully” Bush can be President, then so can Trump. Trump doesn’t strike me as a rocket scientist, but he can’t be any more dumb or incompetent than Bush. I mean, we all know what a disaster that was. But hell, even if Dubya were smart I don’t see how 01-09 would’ve been any better.

      • efgoldman

        He will just busy himself tearing down the White House to replace it with something classy and ‘uge, and ignore actually governing.

        At least as far as I know, casinos aren’t yet legal in DC. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is a great location for a yoooooge and klassy resort, hotel, and conference center, though.

      • Hogan

        Russ Cargill: Mr. President, you chose me, Russ Cargill, most successful man in America, to head the EPA, the least successful government agency. Why did I take the job? Because I’m just a rich guy who wants to kick some ass for good old Mother Earth. I want to give something back. Not the money, but something. That’s why I’ve narrowed your choices down to five unthinkable options.

        [spreads the files on the President’s desk]

        Russ Cargill: Each one will cause untold misery and…

        President Schwarzenegger: [points to File #3] I pick Number Three!

        Russ Cargill: Really? You don’t want to read them first?

        President Schwarzenegger: I was elected to *lead*, not to *read*. Number Three!

        • Malaclypse

          The Simpsons really are our Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

          • efgoldman

            The Simpsons really are our Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

            I think of the show as more Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner to Daffy/Elmer and Wile E Coyote.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    I think we might just as well take Trump at face value- that he wants to be the nominee and he thinks he can be elected President. I think its kind of foolish to think that the party will come to what passes for its senses and that he can’t get the nomination. If he does Trump’s entire candidacy will have built formidable momentum- and his odds as the Republican aren’t that bad to begin with. We definitely live in interesting times

    • postmodulator

      Agreed. What’s more, I’d add, if Trump did not originally think he was a serious contender and only got into the race as a publicity stunt, he almost certainly thinks he can win now. Which is not an unreasonable thing to conclude after leading in the polls for months.

      What I’m stuck on is, in order for Trump to not get the nomination, someone has to beat him. Who?

      • Lee Rudolph

        What I’m stuck on is, in order for Trump to not get the nomination, someone has to beat him.

        Or someone has to shoot him (not necessarily fatally). Etc.

        • postmodulator

          Sure, there’s always the plane crash scenario. But what scandal takes out Trump at this point? If rape allegations don’t make a dent, it’s hard to see what does.

          One thing I’ve thought of: there’s basically no way that Trump isn’t a massive tax cheat, right? I mean, he’s a dumb rich egomaniac. Dumb rich egomaniacs cheat on their taxes. But even a really ugly tax problem, he just spins it as The System trying to take him out for being a bold truth-teller, and his base mostly favors the death penalty for being an IRS employee.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            my guess is that sometime later this fall, closer to caucus/primary time, Bush will be using some of that pile of money to hack away at Trump. I’m curious as to what particular “quirk” of Trump’s the Bush people choose. Bush seems the logical choice because 1) at the moment he has the money and 2) the family track record

            • postmodulator

              Well, let’s say Rove helicopters in to rescue Jebbie. (Probably not impossible.) Rove’s thing is to attack his opponent’s strengths. So that would be…um…

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                I know… that’s why I’m curious to see what the Bush strategy will be. Probably Bush himself doesn’t know what to do- which would explain a lot of why he seems so uncomfortable

                • I guess sitting on the floor and screaming “Mommy” over and over is not in the cards.

                • IM

                  Calling Barbara Bush in? Well, she has a mean reputation…

              • dmsilev

                The hair. Trump is like Samson: shave him, and his strength vanishes.

                • Just_Dropping_By

                  A shaved Trump? That sounds like some sort of horrifying sexual fetish.

          • Phil Perspective

            Willard was a tax cheat too and never got called on it. The “liberal media” is all the sudden going to call Trump on it?

            • Malaclypse

              The scandal with Mittens was that what he did was (probably) legal.

              Trump is stupid/arrogant/entitled enough to run personal expenses through one of his corporations and deduct them, which, in my experience, somewhere north of 75% of small business owners do, in varying degrees. Trump will have gone very ‘uge with this, of course.

              • With someone who is, in essence, a lifestyle celebrity like Trump, what can’t he count as a business expense? (Serious question.)

                My father used to claim quite a few things if he could find a connection. I’m pretty sure one of my computers was deducted and we did use it to write discharge summaries on.

                • Malaclypse

                  I’ve seen people run their groceries through a corporation. I saw someone charge a European vacation, because s/he grabbed some pamphlets while there, making this “business research.”

                • Lee Rudolph

                  I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Groceries run through a corporation; I watched someone charge a European vacation as business research. All those moments will be lost in time, like McDonalds’ receipts in my dresser drawers. Time… to file.

                • efgoldman

                  I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Groceries run through a corporation
                  I worked for a small company in the early 70s (in Fall River, as it happens) in which the owner expensed everything, including his two cars (a Jensen Interceptor and a Ferrari Testosterona – and probably his wife’s Volvo, too) and the weekly hotel room where he went with the “office manager”.

                • Right, but is there a formal limit. Something like “substantively business related” where that had an operational meaning?

                  If I’m a chef writing cookbooks and I research recipes at home and I’m the only cook, can I expense my groceries?

            • witlesschum

              Probably not on their own, but if whoever his main rival is keeps feeding them stuff and stamping their feet for the media to cover it, they will.

              The problem is that in the context of a GOP primary, being a tax cheat seems unlikely to actually hurt Trump.

          • njorl

            Millionaires cheat on their taxes. Billionaires get the laws changed so their tax avoidance is legal.

            I’d say the most likely scenario for a scandal would involve development deals with organized crime figures.

          • burritoboy

            He built casinos in Atlantic City. It’s already known that he did a lot of deals with the Genovese, Gambino, Scarfo, and other crime families to get it done. (Which is not precisely surprising if you remember the words “Atlantic City”.) These were very big deals, so Trump must have gotten approval from the very top leadership of those crime organizations. People say things like Trump may have dealt with Paul Castellano, Nicky Scarfo and so on directly.

            To be honest, I think this stuff will actually continue to endear him to those already his fans, but who knows where an investigation or focus on this will end up.

          • This might be the angle.

            If Trump wants to be a serious candidate for president, and has the numbers to back it up, he must be vetted like a serious candidate for president. A good place to start is to take a hard look at Trump’s ties to Philadelphia and New York organized-crime families.

            http://thefederalist.com/2015/07/28/how-close-was-donald-trump-to-the-mob/

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          What I’m stuck on is, in order for Trump to not get the nomination, someone has to beat him.

          “Winning” means everything to Trump. And “money” is how you determine “winning”.

          All it takes to get Trump out of the race is for the Koch’s to offer Trump enough cash for Trump to “declare victory, and pull out”.

          Yes, Trump has lots of money, but he can always use more. The price for dropping out keeps going up, too.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            so how does *that* work? Kochs pay Trump, the current frontrunner with no one else in sight, an exorbitant amount of money to quit a yuuge race while he’s ahead. Okay. What’s he gonna do, claim he has a bad heart or something?

            • burritoboy

              Sure, why not? Why couldn’t he announce he has [some disease, pick one] and bow out? It’s not like the doctors can talk to the media and contradict him if they want to keep their licenses. People will talk, but they’ll have no facts, and he’ll be out of the public eye anyway by then.

              Trump’s got a giant pile of money, but the Kochs’s probably have 30 times more. And the Kochs have got a wide network of friends too.

              Not that the Donald is going to do that.

          • catclub

            I think Trump will turn into a more conventional politician when he has to name a VP candidate.

            I agree that dropping out would be more fun. But if I were him, I would make sure the check clears and he has moved the money to a different bank before announcing. Would you Trust the Koch’s to keep their word? Would you trust Trump either?

            Could be tricky negotiations.

            • Warren Terra

              I think Trump will turn into a more conventional politician when he has to name a VP candidate.

              I continue to think that whoever gets the Presidential nomination, the logical veep nominee is Tim Scott. That’s true for Trump, too.

              Though, against Hillary, and assuming Trump isn’t the nominee, I could maybe see Susana Martinez nominated for veep.

          • Brent Brambleton

            For Trump, yes, money is winning, but it isn’t the only thing that equates winning. Trump needs to be able to publicly humiliate his enemies, both real and perceived. At every turn, Trump has gone out of his way to insult anyone who doesn’t fall to their knees and kiss his feet.

            The Kochs could pledge all their many billions to Trump to get him to drop out, but if he’s not afforded the opportunity to get up on his hind legs and crow about his victory in front of a fawning media, all the money in the world wouldn’t be enough.

        • efgoldman

          Or someone has to shoot him (not necessarily fatally). Etc.

          I lived through ’63 and especially ’68 (I was already in my 20s). I’d really, really rather not, thank you.
          [And yes, I’m pretty sure you’re joking, and as you know I find almost everything funny. But not that.]

    • Nobdy

      If the economy goes to crap and Trump is the nominee he will cruise to the White House on the “Let a billionaire businessman fix the economy” platform.

    • alex284

      This is where I am on this topic. I’m not going to mind-read Trump or pretend that there’s something deeper going on here than what is obviously going on here: Trump wants to be president and he thinks he has a winning message; lots of GOP voters like that message and think he has a shot at winning.

      The answer is to oppose his candidacy as if it were just as legit as any other. Because if he starts winning primaries, it will be.

      Beyond that, who cares. Let’s not get too clever.

  • Ahenobarbus

    Donald Trump actually wants to be President. Of course, he has an immature view of what the job really entails.

    I’d also point to Trump’s recent bashing of hedge fund managers as meaningful. The GOP base isn’t in love with these guys , but the pols (save Trump) all have to suck up to their type. It galls me that Trump can bash them more comfortably than most Dems.

  • NewishLawyer

    I am not quite ready to believe that Donald Trump wants to be President and thinks he can win it. But I am not sure about what else could be going for him. The whole thing is an enigma. Maybe it is just too depressing and scary to think that Trump his serious.

    Just another way to make more money? Chait is right though. This is showing the huge disconnect between the GOP base and the elites. The base is more economically liberal (or at least populist) and much more socially conservative.

    • Lee Rudolph

      This is showing the huge disconnect between the GOP base and the elites. The base is more economically liberal (or at least populist) and much more socially conservative.

      I don’t think it’s even meaningful to ask whether the (GOP, or general) elites are or aren’t “socially conservative”. They don’t (it seems to me) think of themselves as even part of ‘society’; they will always be able to get away with doing whatever they want (mostly out of sight of the non-elites) and don’t (it seems to me) really care one way or the other what the non-elites get up to or believe in, except to the possible (small) extent that it might somehow inconvenience them or deprive them of riches or power.

      But perhaps I am too cynical.

      • NewishLawyer

        I am using a pretty broad definition of elite. It is basically he partisan writers, policy makers, and most politicians. Most of whom have an upper-middle class life more than a Hedge-Fund multimillionaire kind of life. Someone like Conor F or Ben Domenech, etc. Really these people love to sneer at Brooklyn or SF liberals but there culture mores and likes are a lot closer to upper-middle class liberal Brooklyn (or any other city) than anything else.

        Chait also noted that there was a smaller but still present disconnect between parts of the Democratic base and the Democratic Party elite.

        • Lee Rudolph

          That’s “elite” in the same sense Mensa is “elite”, i.e., not very (from my point of view). But with your definition, sure, your conclusion is probably true.

    • BigHank53

      Just another way to make more money?

      No. Trump has enough money. Let’s look at the things you can spend money on:

      $100k: Cheap house. Nice car. Girlfriend.
      $1M: Nice house. Outrageous car. Top-shelf girlfriend.*
      $10M: Outrageous house. Private jet. Outrageous wife and girlfriend.
      $100M: Multiple houses, wives, and planes.
      $1B: There’s not much with this kind of price tag, unless you like aircraft carriers.

      Now, let’s look at what Trump could get along with the Presidency: being able to make every single person who laughed at the phrase “short-fingered vulgarian” stand up and address him as “sir” when he walks into a room. What would that be worth?

      *Sexism intentional.

      • efgoldman

        What would that be worth?

        Well, whatever it is, is yooooooge and klassy!

  • ajp

    Did I miss something-is that a custom beer you guys made or is that a coincidence?

  • Chait makes two mistakes. One is to continue to believe the GOP is a fully functioning political party. I’m not saying the party is dead, I’m saying it is FUBAR. The second is not so much a mistake as an intentional foul:

    Conservative leaders tend to care very little about conservative social policy, or even disagree with it altogether.

    Uh. No.

    The past several decades have featured conservative leaders caring a great deal about social policy. To the point that caring very loudly is a pre-requisite and some non-social conservatives have bailed from the party because shit was too weird.

    Even if Chait could prove that every conservative leader who squawks about Family Values and Protecting (Pre-partum) Life has his fingers crossed behind his back, he can’t deny that they care about these issues to the extent that pretending to care gets them elected and keeps them in power.

    • Brien Jackson

      I think Chait is using “conservative leaders” in this sense to mean “the big money guys who call the shots.”

      • I’m not sure what this changes. Sure, the “big money guys” don’t have to campaign and maybe they never stand in front of a crowd and vow to fight for traditional marriage, but if the BMGs are calling the shots, then one of the shots they’ve called is lots of social conservatism.

        • Brien Jackson

          Well, Chait’s theory (and it’s probably true) is more that they’ve greenlighted it as the means to redirecting the rubes to supporting the Republican economic agenda in the past 20-30 years, but that otherwise they don’t really give a shit one way or the other.

          • And as I said about the GOPolitician, even if you can prove they aren’t true believers, they do care to the extent it gives or keep them in power (or helps advance their agenda or however you explain why the GOP no longer has room for members who are not anti-SSM, anti-reproductive freedom, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, anti-science, misogynistic…)

            • And on further thought, where does the Big Money Model leave the middleman – the politician – on the scale of caring? Are they all willing accomplices who only care because it gives them power, or are they also rubes who do care and don’t realize their strings are being pulled? Some combination of the two?

              And does it matter?

              (No.)

      • xq

        But that doesn’t fit with his argument, which is that there’s room for a Republican politician to make gains among primary voters by being more socially conservative. What matters for that argument is the position of the politicians, not the big money guys.

    • efgoldman

      I’m not saying the party is dead, I’m saying it is FUBAR.

      Professor Pierce has been saying exactly this since before the 2014 elections.
      Between the lack of institutional control in the house (a combination of Weeping Cheetoh being the weakest speaker maybe ever, and allowing the TeaHadis to eliminate earmarks, so they have nothing to trade) and the fact that most of their money now comes from outside the party and the campaign committees, they are mostly independent contractors; if they are true believers in the family values agenda, or libertarians, or just assholes, they don’t have to answer to anyone anymore except the fringiest of their electorate.

      • Manny Kant

        Is it actually Boehner’s fault? I’m not sure Zombie Thomas Reed would be able to keep this crew in line.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Well he’d starve back to death pretty fast

        • efgoldman

          Is it actually Boehner’s fault? I’m not sure Zombie Thomas Reed would be able to keep this crew in line.

          I think the Republican leadership could have kept elimination of earmarks off the floor.

    • alex284

      Agreed. Like I wrote above: let’s not get too clever here. These folks talked about how much they hate abortion/contraception/lgbt rights/evolution/etc. until they’re blue in the face, and then they passed/proposed thousands of laws over the last decade to move these issues to the right. They had some successes and some failures, but they’re clearly putting energy and money into these issues, enough that it’s the functional equivalent of believing in this stuff in their heart of hearts.

      I’m really not interested in mind-reading some counterintuitive twist into this. But my guess as to why journalists like to do that is that they don’t want to actually admit that some of the people they cover are just horrible human beings.

      • efgoldman

        they’re clearly putting energy and money into these issues

        Yes, but pretty much all of the effort is at the state level. State legislatures are historically closer to the edge of whichever spectrum (conservative or liberal) than is Congress. Everyone with even one common-sense brain cell knew that all those votes to eliminate the ACA, for instance, were strictly for show.

    • Morse Code for J

      “(C)are very little” is perhaps defined as moving legislation which actually promotes conservative social policy, such as it is.

      Sure, Republicans vote for the Hyde Amendment every year that there is an annual appropriations bill, but that first happened in 1976. In 1993, the appropriation bill for HHS contained an updated and arguably weaker version of the amendment permitting exceptions to be made for mothers who were pregnant due to rape or incest, which has continued to be the rule even when Republicans have had control of both houses of Congress. A lot of congressmen and senators talk about a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe and protect the unborn, but how far does that get? Certainly not past the committee chairmen, much less to the floor for an embarrassing and politically damaging vote. Since 1976, we have had a dozen or so tax “reform” bills which mostly make sure rich people keep theirs, any number of expansions to military funding which allows the DoD to buy their shiny new turd from whichever contractor, etc.

      They don’t care. They may pretend to care. But they don’t care.

  • FMguru

    Credit where due – Yglesias was also an early advocate of the notion that Trump is representing a real third-party platform (anti-freetrade, anti-immigration, pro-entitlements) that has no representation among the party or beltway elites (as opposed to the NoLabels/Unity/Whatever anti-partisan billionaire consensus candidates that the Broders and Friedmans of the world keep insisting there’s a great hunger for). Krugman has also been pointing this out for a while.

    I think there’s two other things going on:
    1) There’s so little diversity of opinion and policy among the 17 candidates that the one guy who is willing to cut against the conventional party line really stands out.
    2) Relatedly, the party establishment took a big hit in terms of its credibility in late June when conservatives took a 1-2-3 combination punch (gay marriage, Obamacare upheld, confederate flag removed) which the party’s establishment governors and senators did nothing to prevent.

    Add it all up, and you have a recipe for someone from outside the usual party apparatus (and holding the usual party views) finding a large and receptive audience.

    • NewishLawyer

      Interestingly enough though Trump doesn’t seem to be anti-SSM. He isn’t making that an issue as far as I can tell. He also is much more pro-Social Security and Medicare. He is not giving out repeal Obamacare or SSM fantasies. He is giving out racist and xenophobic fantasies.

      • FMguru

        Trump is pro-entitlements and really stands out for his unwillingness to parrot the neoliberal elite beltway consensus (dominant in both parties, alas) that Belt-Tightening Difficult Choices will have to be made in order to preserve Social Security/Medicare/etc. for the future.

        “You’ve worked for it, you’ve earned it, you’re going to get it” turns out to be a pretty popular campaign slogan. Who knew?

        • Brien Jackson

          Right, Trump is ironically running the campaign that the kind of voters Bernie Sanders imagines uniting behind his cause really want to see: A big helping of economic populism with a generous side of racism, misogyny, and full-throated defense of white male privilege.

          • catclub

            Robert Reich’s 2010 book ‘Backlash’? has Trump style isolationism and anti-free trade, anti-immigrant policy (oddly matcted up with soak the rich taxes) as one of the possible futures. He put it in 2020.

            • Pat

              FMguru – Neither Matt nor Jon came up with this. I first saw a reference to it in a Morning Read by Bernstein on Bloombergview. It was originally from one of the political science writers.

              Come on, that graph just screams “I went to graduate school!”

              • Schadenboner

                To me, that graph screams “Test if you have color blindness”…

      • efgoldman

        Interestingly enough though Trump doesn’t seem to be anti-SSM. He isn’t making that an issue as far as I can tell. He also is much more pro-Social Security and Medicare. He is not giving out repeal Obamacare or SSM fantasies. He is giving out racist and xenophobic fantasies

        Right. He is basically ignoring any other issues except “browns are bad and they’re gonna’ take over the country.”
        I don’t think he’s mentioned abortion, or marriage, or much of anything else unless asked directly (like the bible question last week.)

        • LeeEsq

          Has Trump engaged in any anti-African American race baiting? As far as I can tell, his xenophobia is strictly aimed at immigrants and mainly Hispanic ones. While he is definitely not trying to reach out to African-Americans, Trump is also not going against them. I think that one of his heterodox opinions for a Republican candidate is support for Affirmative Action.

          • postmodulator

            Well, to the extent that rabid Birtherism is race-baiting, he has a history of it.

            As far as SSM: the only time I remember Trump addressing gay anything was after Malcolm Forbes died. He said some sneering things about how Forbes wanted to essentially live as an openly gay man and expected everyone else to not report on it or mention it. It didn’t strike me as all that homophobic and if you cleaned up some of his language it might have come from Michelangelo Signorile.

          • twbb

            It seems to be mostly aimed at illegal immigrants, not just any immigrants; honestly I think the dems and a lot of professional-class professionals (the kind whose jobs aren’t really impacted by illegal immigration) underestimate popular feelings about the immigration issue.

    • catclub

      There’s so little diversity of opinion and policy among the 17 candidates that the one guy who is willing to cut against the conventional party line really stands out.

      Which is why Ron Paul won the 2012 nomination.

      The Billionaire factor makes a difference.

      • dr. fancypants

        The Billionaire factor makes a difference.

        Also, Trump is actually pushing policy positions that a substantial number of people support.

        Ron Paul was a libertarian. Despite what self-deluding libertarians try to tell you, not that many people actually favor true libertarianism.

        • postmodulator

          I literally know only one person who’s fully committed to his libertarianism in terms of actually understanding the ideology and consistently applying it to people who are not him, but even he has had like four government or quasi-government jobs.

      • ajp

        I think Trump has a sliiiiightly higher net worth than Paul.

    • LeeEsq

      What Yglesias actually said is that Trumpism represents a bunch of policy positions held by millions of Americans but not actually supported by party elites. It is a sort of reverse Bloombergism.

  • catclub

    it’s hard to predict where all this will ultimately end up.

    How about a new religion?

  • joe from Lowell

    Now, as Chait points out, from the perspective of a businessman exploiting a potentially profitable niche, turning himself into an updated hybrid of Huey Long and George Wallace is a great idea. From the perspective of somebody trying to become president it’s a sure-fire loser

    It is?

    I’m looking at that chart. Populists seem to be the biggest group. Why is Trump’s positioning a sure-fire loser?

    • IM

      25% isn’t a majority.

      That said, if you can appeal to 25% of the population, your chance to win a nomination should be not that bad.

      Chait does a bait and switch here: He first says a quarter of the country, then a quarter of republican primary vote.

      • efgoldman

        He first says a quarter of the country, then a quarter of republican primary vote.

        Yeah, not the same thing at all.
        I wonder if Chait (or any writer) obfuscates those things on purpose, if he just needs better proofreading/editing, or if he really is that ignorant.

    • efgoldman

      Why is Trump’s positioning a sure-fire loser?

      I don’t think the nom is totally out of the question (although unlikely), but victory in the general? Naah.

      • Matt McIrvin

        I can’t decide, honestly. I keep going back and forth.

        If people turned out to vote in the same proportion that they exist in the United States, or in the same proportion as 2012, it’d be a sure-fire loser, because there’s no way Trump is going to get the huge fraction of white votes necessary to win the election with just white votes. Romney got 60% of the white vote and lost.

        But many, many eligible people don’t vote even in presidential years. And then I wonder if there’s some vast untapped crowd of white non-voters, disenchanted by normal politics, who will get registered and turn out just for Donald Trump, making all these numbers moot. And whether this is larger than the flood of Hispanics who will surely turn out to vote against him.

      • Matt McIrvin

        …Meanwhile, there’s head-to-head polling going on of the various Republican candidates vs. Clinton. And the polling for Trump is as yet a bit sparse, so the data are bad and too easily dominated by dumb outliers. But the general message I can extract from it is that Trump really doesn’t seem to do any worse than the establishment names. In fact, positions in the Republican primary and performance vs. Hillary Clinton seem to track each other fairly well.

        • efgoldman

          Chicken Little was a Democrat.
          Look back at all the hand wringing in 2012 if you don’t believe I’m right.

          • JL

            Better to be overly worried than to be blindsided.

          • Matt McIrvin

            In this case it could be self-fulfilling. I’ve noticed a lot of Democrats starting to pile on with articles about how Hillary is in serious trouble over the email thing, and there seems to be no reason for it to happen now other than that they see other Democrats doing it.

      • rea

        I don’t think the nom is totally out of the question (although unlikely), but victory in the general? Naah.

        Well, to mention a traumatic experience of my younger days, that’s what a lot of people said about that loon Reagan . . .

        • catclub

          In 1980 the economy contracted GDP by 5%, with high inflation to boot. Very unlikely to be repeated in 2016.

          But nothing can be guaranteed.

          • efgoldman

            In 1980 the economy contracted GDP by 5%, with high inflation to boot. Very unlikely to be repeated in 2016.

            Reagan, as much as I hated him, was also a long-time national figure, a party stalwart since before 1964, and a successful two-term governor of our most diverse state.

      • joe from Lowell

        I don’t think Trump himself can win, either, but not because he’s running on right-populism. I’m asking, why is right-populaism a surefire loser?

        • divadab

          It’s not if the economic conditions are right – a bad recession that affects most people makes right-wing populism a popular solution. That the economic ruling class in America is effectively traitorous, feeling no obligation or duty to the people they are selling out, is creating the exact conditions which will destroy them.

        • efgoldman

          I’m asking, why is right-populaism a surefire loser?

          Because there aren’t enough angry, misogynist, racist, nativist white guys to get 270 EVs.

          • Schadenboner

            True enough, but the interesting/important question is “Are there enough angry, misogynist, racist, nativist white guys in the GOP primary?”

  • Ann Outhouse

    What does Donald Trump actually want?

    Attention.

    Everyone’s overanalyzing Trump. The only thing that really motivates him is being the center of attention. Everything else, including money, is in the service of that. It’s why he tools around in a 757 instead of a Gulfstream like ordinary billionaires. It’s why he rents out his name to real estate developments he has no involvement in. It’s why he keeps trading in his wives for a newer model.

    • burritoboy

      He does get paid decent money to put his name on those real estate developments, though. A pretty clever way to make money, I’ll give him that.

  • Sebastian_h

    I don’t wish Trump on the nomination and at this point it isn’t even really safe to egg him on. If something crazy happens in the world economy such that China and the EU tank, we could be in some serious economic trouble a year from now. If that happens, it is very possible that any Republican candidate will win. If that candidate is Trump we are seriously fucked.

    • RabbitIslandHermit

      I dunno, I admit that the prospect of Trump as Commander-in-Chief is terrifying but I think I’d rather have a LePage style buffoon who can’t pass his agenda than someone who could pass national right to work, privatize social security, and god knows what else.

      • Matt McIrvin

        People often say that, that they’d rather have an incompetent guy-with-bad-policies in office than a competent one, but I think George W. Bush provided us with a powerful counterexample. An incompetent guy can enact his whole agenda given the proper conditions, such as terrorists knocking down the World Trade Center, and the results are unbelievably horrible. Lots of people die. You probably ought to prefer a competent bad guy in there instead, within limits.

        • Captain Splendid

          but I think George W. Bush

          You mean Cheney and the rest of the PNAC gang. Trump will never have anyone quite so brazen or ambitious in his inner circle.

        • xq

          OK, so which candidate is more “competent”, in the sense of likely to avoid disastrous foreign policy adventures, than Trump? The neocons are still powerful in the Republican establishment. Jeb hasn’t renounced any of his brother’s foreign policy. You could say “Rand Paul” if you trust that his paleocon leanings aren’t just branding, I guess? But other than that, Trump seems more free from neocon influence than the others, not less.

          • Malaclypse

            Neocons at least have an agenda. Trump is the candidate most likely to start a war with, to pick at random, Ghana.

            • Rob in CT

              Beats a war with Iran. *ducks*

              The problem is that the mainstream candidates are all basically lunatics on foreign policy. Trump might possibly be saner!

            • tsam

              Trump is bringing back memories of my dad joking about how scared he was that Ford was going to trip and fall on “The Button” and start a nuclear war.

              I’m imaging Trump sneaking in there at night just to press the button because they told him not to do it.

            • efgoldman

              Trump is the candidate most likely to start a war with, to pick at random, Ghana.

              Wait! What did JOtto ever do to piss off The Donald?

    • JL

      It wasn’t ever safe to egg him on. His candidacy, whatever comes of it at this point, is emboldening seriously bad people, like those guys in Southie who beat up a homeless Latino man and credited Trump as their motivation.

      • xq

        Nothing is ever “safe.” But anything his candidacy does to weaken the Republican party will accomplish genuine good.

        • MacK

          That kind-of depends. If you are hispanic, or have family members that are hispanic, this is not a nice time. Trump is legitimising a lot of hate.

          • tsam

            Plus I think egging him on and giving him red meat to feed to the hyenas is something like heightening the contradictions. It’s a gamble to assume that Trump being crazy and stupid is going to cause him to lose the general election. Bush II won a second term, and everyone knew he was an incompetent, murdering doofus by that time.

            • xq

              The general problem with heighten the contradiction arguments is that heightening the contradictions causes a lot of immediate suffering. But does that describe the choice of Trump vs. establishment Republican? Jeb Bush would cause a tremendous amount of suffering if he were elected too.

          • ajp

            Yeah, although I am white, I have a hispanic last name. I half-joked to a friend of mine that I was considering taking my mother’s Irish maiden name if Trump became president.

            Now, it’s not really a joke. I think that’s what I’ll do.

            But I’m not really too concerned for myself-I’m more concerned for people like my wife, who is a swarthy hispanic. I really don’t like this-Trump’s candidacy is not funny to me anymore.

          • xq

            Yes, that’s true.

    • rewenzo

      /Kisses Canadian passport/

      • IM

        Your just wait until Walker builds his wall.

        • tsam

          /rewenzo kisses the North side of Walker’s Wall/

    • ajp

      I can’t blame Slick Willie for egging him on-from the ex ante perspective, it was smart-The Donald would spend a few months ruining the shit of the Republican Party, forcing the other candidates to say the quiet parts out loud and try to out-Trump Trump (building a wall on the Canadian border, Walker? LOL).

      Who actually thought that what, by all appearances, looked like a pure vanity campaign would lead to Trump being the frontrunner? I bet Jon Stewart is kicking himself right now.

  • Fortunado

    my guess of an answer is that Trump’s campaign started as a publicity stunt, but has since spun out of control.

    This would be my guess as well, though there is some evidence it’s not correct (e.g. the Daily Beast article about Trump courting evangelicals for the last 2-3 years).

  • xq

    And both are run by elites who have more socially liberal and economically conservative views than their own voters

    This just isn’t true. Republican voters have more liberal views of abortion, gay marriage, gun rights, drug policy than the politicians they elect. It’s true that both parties are run by elites who are more favorable to immigration than their own voters. But immigration is not a generic social issue.

    Nor is it true that Trump is even competing for the social conservatives. He took a softer stance on Planned Parenthood than any of his competitors, for example, and he’s not trying in the least to out-theocrat Huckabee or Cruz, or out-gun any of them.

    Trump’s niche is in being more openly racist, more xenophobic, not in being more socially conservative.

    • ajp

      My father is a pretty hardcore fiscal conservative, but he rolls his eyes and groans whenever stuff like abortion comes up-he’s a doctor so to him it’s just a plain old medical procedure and he doesn’t understand the fuss.

      I think he’s finally coming around on how batshit insane the Republican Party is. He’s actually a big fan of Cuomo Jr. now-who’s basically a Republican without the batshit insane social policies.

  • petesh

    The Donald is loving it, but for another year and a bit? I can’t see him sticking to it, and there will be lots of incentive for him to find a reason to back away. Kasich strikes me as the most dangerous of the Republican candidates. I can see the fat cats dropping Bush and rallying around Kasich, who could be quite dangerous in the general election. Meanwhile, it’s time to get serious … any Dem over any Rep. We cannot afford a repeat of 2000 in any form.

    • Then we’re probably screwed, because none of those R-controlled statehouses will be changing hands before the general.

      • petesh

        Could be. And a Republican who implemented any part of Obamacare might just split off enough actual votes from a Democrat to make it challenging to overcome the institutional bias. Kasich is therefore the only one I’m worried about, at this point. The others are dumb or nuts or both; they’d still get at least 45% of the votes cast, but … no, they ain’t gonna win. Trouble is, the real money likely knows that, so we’re waiting for the next act. As a drama, I find it quite interesting; as a person, I’ll find a way of getting by, I imagine, but millions won’t. I wish I had the money or the physical ability or both to make a more substantive contribution, But I’ll keep on dong what I can.

    • postmodulator

      Kasich strikes me as the most dangerous of the Republican candidates.

      On paper, I agree, but he’s really uncharismatic. Really, that’s the biggest issue in the GOP field as a whole — they’re a lot of crummy politicians, when you get down to it.

  • Deggjr

    Springtime for Hitler
    Germany was having trouble
    What a sad, sad story
    Needed a new leader to restore
    Its former glory
    Where, oh, where was he?
    Where could that man be?
    We looked around and then we found
    The man for you and me

    Not a perfect analogy but pretty close.

  • alex284

    I suppose Chait’s proposition that someone with 25% of the country behind him can’t win is technically correct. But 25% isn’t far from the real number – 31.2%, or half the the people who turned out to vote in 2012 (and, yes, technically he could need more or fewer depending on how the electoral college is split).

    Plus the polling data Chait used could be changed in a more right-populist direction for a few reasons:

    1. The right-populist position isn’t often expressed in the media, so many people questioned on it might not have really considered it. Trump is making people consider it.

    2. I see immigration politics as much like war politics – there are many people who will always be opposed or in favor of a war, but there are also a *lot* of people who are against war until they see people around them in favor and they get caught up in the energy

    3. I don’t know why Chait assumes Trump can’t access folks who want immigration to remain the same, because a) immigration isn’t easy at the moment, and b) a lot of people have no clue how much immigration is going on and might think “stay the same” and “build a wall” are compatible ideas.

    4. Chait seems to assume that this is only a GOP voter phenomenon, when there are probably quite a few Dems who like the idea of more SS and less immigration

    5. Chait says that if the GOP unites against Trump he has no chance at the nomination. There’s no reason to believe that – someone’s favorite candidate might be Scott Walker and their second-favorite might be Trump because people don’t just look at policy when voting.

    6. Even accepting #5 for argument’s sake, there’s no reason to believe that the rest of the GOP will unite around one candidate out of 16. This assumes a lot of swallowed pride in a group of egomaniacs.

    7. Moderates, too, may have similar beliefs as Trump does. In fact, they are probably likely to since statistical “moderates” are usually extremists with a mix of far-left and far-right opinions and little knowledge of policy, so “Make America win again” can actually be an appealing message.

    8. Trump is energizing people who might not have come out to vote in previous elections, and a lot of those people live in states that get disproportionately large says on the general election due to the electoral college. I could see him winning without getting 51% of the general public behind him.

    That all said, my money is still on Clinton for the general election. But the GOP primary, to me, is still possible for Trump.

    • catclub

      8. Trump is energizing people who might not have come out to vote in previous elections,

      Except isn’t he mostly energizing old white people, who typically DO already come out for elections?

      He is actually energizing Latino voters, but in the other direction. And they have been notoriously bad for actually voting.

      • tsam

        I think the old, white soreheads are the only demographic the GOP can count on anymore–but there’s still a wide swath of people who are so politically illiterate (and just plain illiterate) that think this is a fucking game and that voting for a douche like Trump is cool (younger crowd), or just buy into his nebulous bullshit rhetoric because they want to Make America Great Again–I mean, who doesn’t want that?

        • efgoldman

          I think the old, white soreheads are the only demographic the GOP can count on

          Well, there’s the young, white, traitor-flag waving soreheads, if they come out to vote.

      • John F

        Except isn’t he mostly energizing old white people

        Ummm no, his support seems to be evenly spread out among the GOP electorate…

        That’s the weird part of it, in 2012 you had a clear Romney/Estab vote and a Not Romney Vote. The not Romney was pretty split between the Evangelicals and the Libtertarianish/Paul vote and the Newt Voters …. Trump seems to be pulling an equal % from all elements, the people who supported Romney, the people who supported Santorum and the people who supported Newt…

        Can Trump get the nod? In 2012 Santorum couldn’t because he could never get the entire Not Romney vote behind him, the Newt Voters would hold their nodes and vote for Romney long before voting for Santorum. The Santorum voters would likewise have never voted for Newt. The Ron Paul voters were dead enders, they either stayed with Paul to the end, stayed home, or lined up behind the winner after the winner was decided.

        Now the Paul vote is dispersed, they’ve essentially abandoned Rand, Trump (and Carson) have picked up some.
        the Santorum vote has essentially dispersed, but the largest share has gone to Huck (Santorum’s 2012 voters were guys who had voted for Huck in 2008 any way).

        Newt’s 2012 supporters? I think have largely gone to Trump and Carson.

        Romney’s 2012 suporters? Were supposed to go to Jeb- and some have I suppose virtually all Jeb’s current supporters supported Romney throughout 2012, but some 2012 Romney folks favor Rubio, some favor Walker or Kasich or (now) Fiorina- that vote has shattered and dispersed, and Trump is going to lead until it coalesces behind one (1) candidate

  • Rob in CT

    I agree with those who point out that Trump’s policy stances are basically Euro rightwing: xenophobia married to social welfare spending for “us” (with “us” possibly not including certain groups of Americans). This is actually reasonably popular – certainly more popular than the standard GOP policy mix. It’s sort of the right-wing version of Bernie Sanders (and, sadly, I think it’s more popular than Bernie’s message, much as I like him).

    But here’s the thing:

    How many people who are presently saying they like The Donald are going to actually vote in the GOP primaries?

    The positions he’s taking are fairly popular amongst the general population, but I’m thinking a fair chunk of that support is in the disaffected/bitter group that may not vote much, even in general elections, let along primaries.

    We’ll find out, but I wonder if he’s actually a better general election candidate than primary candidate? Just a thought.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      I wonder about that too and this is where organizing comes in- does Trump have people on the ground who can shepherd those disaffected votes into his column? This is part of the invisible primary along with fundraising, and it appears Trump *has* been working at that too, not just bellowing on tv and Twitter

      in 2008 the Obama campaign workers here were *amazingly* capable of bringing in people who had never *been* to a caucus before. The Clinton and Edwards campaigns could see what was coming and worked very hard to get the “usual suspects” (read: traditional Democrats) to the caucus, which kept things close- but Obama still won fairly decisively- the competition ended up being for 2nd

      so yeah, I see no reason to think Trump *couldn’t* do that to the established Republicans here, just as Obama did it to the establishment Democrats

      • Rob in CT

        I don’t know enough about GOP caucus/primary rules to know if an Obama ’08-type performance is possible. Also, if he did pull that off, it would require an impressive organization to make it happen. He’s got the time and the money, I guess…

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I don’t mean any fancy games with the rules, just old-fashioned ‘get out the vote’ stuff. That takes volunteers who *believe* in the candidate and who will do the hand-holding and cajoling necessary to get low involvement people to the caucus- will Trump have enough of them? beats me- I just know it can be done, because I saw Obama do it

          • Rob in CT

            No, what I mean is I don’t understand the extent to which the GOP caucuses/primaries may be rigged such that an upstart get-out-the-vote campaign may be hindered.

  • guthrie

    That there is a disconnect between the party leaders and funders and the voters has been a major obvious topic of conversation here in the UK for many many years now. I first noticed it personally nearly a decade ago.

    The actual response by party leaders over here though has been to say one thing and do another, the end result being that the gap is wider, hence why Corbyn is doing well in New labour and UKIP have done well at the polls.

    I doubt it will go any differently in the USA. You obviously need a new electorate, since the old one isn’t interested in the proper things.

  • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

    Word on the street is that Trump has hired Jones Day (formerly the law firm of the RNC), which would mean that he is very, very serious.

    And it’s obviously true that his candidacy represents the plurality of people who want government to be heavily involved in both economic and social life finally getting their guy. I don’t think he could win a general election, but I didn’t give him a shot at the nomination until a few weeks ago, either.

  • Aaron Morrow


    Jonathan Bernstein
    :

    Republican candidates have big incentives for irresponsible leadership. Trump has just followed such incentives to their logical conclusion.

    If Trump were to make it to the winner-take-all primaries, I don’t see how the super-delegates are going to crown a #2 John Ellis Bush Bush or Marco Rubio the winner despite the head-to-head victories.

    What Chait doesn’t make sufficiently clear is that, although Trump’s positions on Social Security and immigration appeal to 40% of the country or so, there are other issues that will trump those. (Given their shared feelings about social justice, no wonder those positions are glossed over.) Thus the article jumps from 40% of the public to 25% of the primary to 25% of the general electorate.

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