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Will Trump Pass the Ultimate Test?

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Farenheit 911 still

As we recently discussed, this weekend Donald Trump uttered the ultimate Republican heresy, invoking the kooky conspiracy theory that George W. Bush was president on September 11, 2001. This flies directly in the face of the rock-solid Republican orthodoxy that George W. Bush Kept Us Safe (With Notably Rare Exceptions.) Will be pay a price? Well:

PPP’s new South Carolina poll continues to find Donald Trump with a wide lead in the state. He’s at 35% to 18% each for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 10% for John Kasich, and 7% each for Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.

What’s striking about Trump’s support is how consistent it is across different demographic groups- he’s at 41% with ‘somewhat conservative’ voters, 40% with younger voters, 38% with men, 36% with self identified Republicans, 35% with Evangelicals, 35% with middle aged voters, 34% with non-Evangelicals, 31% with women, 30% with self identified independents, 30% with ‘very conservative’ voters, 30% with seniors, and 29% with moderates. He has a lead of some size within every single one of those groups, similar to what he was able to do in New Hampshire.

CNN has similar results. Even the polls-plus 538 analysis gives him a 74% chance of winning.

This isn’t to say that Trump is a mortal lock to win the nomination. South Carolina voters do seem to have responded to the Rubiobot’s new software, and Trump’s particularly aggressive attacks on the party he’s trying to lead might hurt him more down the road. But the fact that he can say what he did and still probably win in South Carolina is amazing in itself.

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  • Murc

    Legitimate question; is what Trump said really a giant heresy?

    I know a few Republicans, not nearly enough to be a representative sample size of course, and to a man they dislike George W. Bush. They all voted for him twice, of course, but they don’t actually like him, mostly because they think he fucked up a bunch of times including, yes, on 9/11.

    But. They’re a lot more willing to accept badmouthing him from another Republican. They’re allowed to bitch about Dubya amongst themselves. But if I try, I get a lot of pushback because I’m not one of the tribe.

    So I’m wondering if Trump’s remarks on Dubya are okay with the electorate he’s appealing to even if they’re considered awful heresy amongst the Republican establishment and even if Republicans react strongly when Democrats say the same thing. Rank-and-file Republicans seem to have accepted Trump as one of the tribe, which means that if they, also, think Dubya was kind of a fuckup, they’re allowed to agree.

    Trump doesn’t actually answer to anyone in the establishment. He’s going right to the voters. He can utter any heresy he wants with the establishment as long as it isn’t out of step with the electorate he’s aiming at, and he can even utter ones that are out of step with them if they really like what he’s selling in other areas.

    • random

      I’ve met at least three different sub-genres:

      Some see Bush as responsible because he was too liberal and tolerant. He didn’t racially profile as soon as he was sworn in, was kissy with Saudi royalty, and later even called Islam a religion of peace.

      Others are just not down with neo-con foreign policy and don’t like Big Corporations. They were opposed to invading Iraq from Day One and saw Bush as a spoiled brat who sent other people off to die in a corrupt war for oil and futile democracy-spreading.

      The last group ranges from actively thinking that Bush was consciously complicit in allowing the attacks to Bush actively planned the attacks. I think this last group were probably Ron Paul supporters.

      But yeah, most Republicans I know just exclusively blame Clinton and the Democrats, so these trains of thought were out there in Elephant-land, but I’ve never seen them go this mainstream previously.

    • AMK

      It’s tribalism–and “persecuted” tribalism at that. The conservative movement from Buckley on down has always seen itself like a Chinese house church; true believers huddling together by candlelight in some basement where the jackbooted big-government, secular-progressive police can burst in at any moment and haul everybody off to the labor camp. For the National Review crowd, the labor camp is a metaphor for disdain on the cocktail circuit; for much of the base, it’s a real (imagined) thing. The Obama presidency and the demographic shift to minority-majority status has cranked this impulse into overdrive for both groups.

      At the same time, when everybody is huddled together in fear of the outside, they’re more willing than ever to listen to crazy ideas and erstwhile heresies from their own people. No new religion was ever born when everything was perfect.

    • Crusty

      My understanding of the conventional spin was that yes, republicans will admit that GWB was POTUS on 9-11, but that he cannot be blamed for anything that took place between his inauguration and 9-11 because there was NO WAY that he or anyone could have known that something like this was coming, but thank heavens he was president on 9-11 because had Al Gore been president he would have just dropped his shorts, bent over the desk in the oval office and said thank you sir, may I have another, and perhaps invited Bin Laden to the oval office for a summit, apology and medal presentation. GWB on the other hand made WAR! And reshuffled some bureaucracy with a clever name- homeland security.

      • brewmn

        Hilarious. Depressingly accurate, but hilarious.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Lost to memory is the fact that it was Senate Democrats who pushed for the DHS (which I think sounds better when spoken in the original German, Der Heimlandsverschiecherheitsamt) over the Bush administration’s objection. The original proposal came from Liebermann and Specter, which isn’t surprising.

        Of course, once created the DHS did the bidding of Rove and Cheney, with a 5-color terror scale of which only 3 would ever be used (2 realistically), and used the department to issue non-specific terror threats whenever Bush’s approval rating got too low – as was documented at the time (every non-specific warning of terror both occurred during a low rating period and caused the rating to go up a notch or two).

        • Hogan

          Specter was still a Republican in 2002. His forty-five minutes as a Democrat came later.

          • CrunchyFrog

            Oh agreed. What I meant was that after Liebermann and Specter proposed it and Bush rejected, the Senate Dems pushed for it until it was agreed to.

            http://www.allgov.com/departments/department-of-homeland-security?detailsDepartmentID=571

            Exactly one month after the attacks, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced legislation to create a Department of Homeland Security. The Bush administration rejected the idea, but Democratic members of the Senate continued to press it. Finally, in June 2002, more than seven months after the initial proposal, President Bush reversed his stand.

        • Crusty

          I don’t recall, but didn’t Bush first announce homeland security as an “office” to be headed by Tom Ridge and it then became a cabinet “department” by statute alittle later?

        • Ahuitzotl

          The original proposal came from Liebermann and Specter,

          it was Senate Democrats who pushed for the DHS

          how do you reconcile these 2 statements?

          • CrunchyFrog

            Read the quote above. The proposal came 1 month after 9/11. Bush rejected it. Over the next 7 months Senate Democrats pushed for it until Bush relented.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              I think you’ve missed a joke about Lieberman

              Ahuitzotl is subtle that way

              • CrunchyFrog

                Oh dear. Well the “some Democrats” was referring to events after the proposal so I didn’t see the connection. I certainly could have been more clear in my first comment.

                But yes, it also occurred to me that Lieberfool and Spectre are both first-ballot inductees into the “I have no loyalty to my party” hall of fame.

          • Davis X. Machina

            Some significant Democrats were kicking the idea of a DHS — including the word ‘homeland’ — before Bush was even elected.

            The Hart-Rudman commission…

            (Didn’t see JfL’s post…)

        • joe from Lowell

          The original original proposal came from a blue ribbon panel chaired by Gary Hart and Warren Rudman.

          • CrunchyFrog

            Oh man, thanks for this. I’d totally forgotten about that. As I recall, it was completely ignored by the Cheney administration along with all the other useful advice they were given about terrorist threats.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          “(which I think sounds better when spoken in the original German, Der Heimlandsverschiecherheitsamt)”

          I thought the original German was “Geheim Staatspolizei”

    • Lurker

      We must remember that Trump’s base is the one white demographic that enlists in the Army and the Marines. Many Trump supporters have veteran family members, or coworkers, or friends. They know, from the wors of mouth, that Iraq was not a heaven until Obama. If someone from their tribe comes out and says openly that Iraq was astrategic-level blunder, it reinforces the mindset they already have. They can think they were fighting bravely and patriotically in a futile war that the elites wanted, because the armed forces indoctrination focuses on being a warrior, not on the abstract goals of the conflict.

      So, Trump’s message has a fertile ground waiting. A Dolchstoßlegend with Bush as the man with the dagger is quite as believable for a rank-and-file wingnut as one with Obama.

  • keta

    “TRUMPfh
    moves centrist, bellows, discuss.”

    Has anyone perfected a more precise crime on a credulous, grasping audience?

    I think we all know he’s the bee’s buttons. He’s the meat of the mutton.
    The sumpin’ of sumpin’.

    What I eagerly await is what the fuck you’all gonna’ do about it.

    • toberdog

      I await, albeit not particularly eagerly, a translation of this comment into English.

      • What keta’s saying is that Trump is the cat’s pajamas at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

  • Schadenboner

    Clicked hoping for Turing test results. Disappointed.

    • Warren Terra

      Not the Gom Jabbar?

      • random

        Seems a more fitting test for Republican Muad’Dib.

    • Latverian Diplomat

      Trump: Human (sigh)
      Kasich: Boring human.
      Cruz: Computer (uncanny valley is written all over his face)
      Rubio: 8 track tape player
      Jeb!: Human, or possibly a computer with rich parents.
      Carson: Computer, unplugged.

      • Hogan

        Carson is more like a recurring core dump.

  • AndersH

    Trump is really doing the European right-wing nationalist bit. Authoritarian, can credibly be anti-establishment (because he never had to govern), promising to uphold the parts of the welfare system most like, but being so racist that suspicious whites don’t think it will benefit “those people”.
    He’s helped by the US electoral system in gaining a shot at the presidency, but US demographics is a lot less monoethnic than most European countries.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Yeah, that’s a good fit. And the more the powers that be in all of these countries keep slashing benefits, encouraging greater income inequality, and hurting the economy through austerity measures the more people will be seeking out solutions like voting for right wing nationalists and left wing radicals.

    • Mike G

      Jean Marie Le Trump

  • Nick056

    Trump’s not a mortal lock for the nomination, but he appears to be one for SC. Here’s a test: if he wins and Rubio is in 3rd place, do any GOP Reps, Senators, or Governors endorse him? If not, at what point does the endorsement drought hurt him?

    With Trump, it’s now increasingly hard to picture him losing the support of his core 35 – 40%. And yet it’s also equally hard to imagine electeds endorsing him? The odd thing is, he might be benefiting from the lack of endorsements.

    • so-in-so

      When you run against the establishment, do you need, or even want, endorsements from the establishment?

    • witlesschum

      Maybe that asshole from Maine will endorse Trump?

      • Lee Rudolph

        I’m not sure that Trump is quite Eliot Cutler’s cup of tea.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Too late. LePage was all in for Christie. Asshole bellowing to asshole across the primeval swamps, and all that.

    • Ahuitzotl

      I havent seen any sign that endorsements make any difference to anything, going back to at least 1972. They appear to be another relict of former times, not unlike the Electoral College (if less pernicious)

  • FFFFFFIIII

    FWIW, CNN has Trump at 45% in Nevada, and Quinnipiac has Trump at 39% nationally.

    • Hercules Mulligan

      If he wins NH, SC, and NV, all in a row, it’s probably over, right?

      He’d go into the SEC primary with yooge momentum, a large delegate lead, and it’s extremely unlikely that he’d only have one competitor at that point. Even if Bush or Rubio dropped out, Cruz won’t, and Kasich won’t, because he’s waiting for the midwest to vote on March 15.

      By March 15, we’re still looking at at least two rivals. If Trump sweeps those states, I’ve seen some work by Sam Wang to suggest that Trump could be extremely close to the 1,236 delegates necessary to win.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Right. Wang suggests that the establishment’s chances of stopping Trump rest heavily on how quickly the rest of the field is culled. The longer the a field of 5 or more candidates persists, splitting the vote, the more Trump will keep getting the majority of state delegates with voting percentages in the 30s. The sooner the field gets culled down to 3 and then 2, the better the non-Trump candidates chances are of beating Trump.

  • afdiplomat

    Republican leaders have been far more vulnerable on this issue than they imagined. They built up, in cooperation with the conservative media, an untruthful narrative (Jonathan Chait called it “deeply weird”) that exempted George Bush from any responsibility for 9/11 and made the Iraq War into a great success spoiled only by Bush’s successor. This narrative was not intended to benefit the country; it was intended to benefit all the Bushies — virtually the entire Republican foreign-policy apparat — who were deeply complicit in this disaster. Trump has no interest in these people and is thus free to break this narrative — and it turns out that a good many Republicans also resent being lied to about Iraq, just as they resent being lied to about so many other things by so many of the same people.

    Although Trump is an epic liar about many things, he’s not a complete liar about everything. And it is really encouraging that he is taking a wrecking ball to the self-protective structure of lies about Iraq built up by the Republican Party elite. It’s overdue, and the Republican Party and the country will be better for it. The contrast is also informative: it was just the Republican foreign-policy honchos responsible for Iraq who populated the list of his foreign-policy advisors Jeb Bush put out at the beginning of his campaign. That may be another aspect of Bushism, along with the immediate political prospects of that noxious dynasty itself, that Trump ends up burying.

  • afdiplomat

    If I were a younger Republican-oriented person looking for a career in foreign affairs, I’d be mainly (if quietly) in Trump’s corner on 9/11, the Iraq War, and related issues (such as torture). The commitment of the Republican Party, in the interest of GWB’s foreign-policy cadre (led, of course, by Dick Cheney), to defending a whole catalog of falsehoods in these areas would be a real problem for me. If I approach these issues truthfully, I will end up exiled from Republican circles. If I support the prevalent Republican narrative, I will be regarded by my colleagues and most of my potential mentors as a shameless hack, devoted to covering the rear ends of a collection of malign and backward-looking incompetents. In this situation, the Republican Party risks doing to itself in foreign affairs what it has already done in scientific and many economic circles: making it almost impossible for anyone connected with them to have any professional standing. That’s not healthy — for the party or the country.

    Whatever else Trump does, he will make things more comfortable for any rising Republican foreign-affairs people if he opens up space within the Republican Party for a different narrative on these issues.

    • brewmn

      You do know Trump’s position on torture is that we don’t do nearly enough of it, right?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        there’s more to foreign affairs than torture though- I mean, and I think afdiplomat does, that getting a more humane/realistic republican approach to foreign policy has to start *somewhere*, and dispelling the fiction that G W Bush “kept us safe” is a good place *to* start

        • Matt

          getting a more humane/realistic republican approach to foreign policy has to start *somewhere*

          At this point, I suspect the only route back to sanity for GOP foreign policy runs through a war-crimes tribunal.

        • brewmn

          If that was all Trump was doing, I’d agree. But Trump’s foreign policy is, to the degree one can be ascertained at all, even more belligerent than GWB’s was.

        • Charlie S

          Unfortunately Trump keeps promoting the “Obama stabbed us in the back in Iraq” narrative, along with the deal with Iran “is the worst deal ever!” That doesn’t get us very far at all.

          • Richard Gadsden

            It’s the traditional Republican position. Tell the truth about what happened 10 years ago so you get some credibility to lie about what’s going on now.

            Look at what they said about Vietnam in the eighties.

        • afdiplomat

          Clearly Trump as President would be on track to make his own errors in foreign policy, and clearly he is very bad on the torture issue (although he sounds as if he is willing to torture straight out, which might be at least more honest than trying to pretend that waterboarding isn’t torture in the first place — although its implications are otherwise appalling).

          As Jim suggests, one concern I had was the necessity to allow Republicans to deal honestly with 9/11 and the Iraq War. The necessity to protect the Bushies (and GWB himself) complicit with the negligence, bad thinking, and outright incompetence involved in these episodes has kept any new Republican thinking from emerging. Changing that situation has to start with an honest reckoning with 9/11 and iraq, and Trump’s remarks in South Carolina open the opportunity to do that. If he’s nominated and loses (both at the moment the most likely outcomes), his influence in this area may still remain.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    the radio just told me 77% of republicans think Trump can win in November- 67% think Rubio can, and 60% Cruz

    also heard a clip of Trump saying Obama was lucky he didn’t run in ’12, because he would have been a one-term President

    ah what interesting times

    • CrunchyFrog

      Trump was responding to Obama saying that he didn’t think Trump would win. If you think about it, this was kind of an amazing statement from a sitting, 2nd term President:

      I continue to believe that Mr. Trump will not be president. It’s not hosting a talk show, or a reality show, it’s not promotion, it’s not marketing – it’s hard. And a lot of people count on us getting it right. And it’s not a matter of pandering and doing whatever will get you in the news on a given day.

      And to my surprise when I googled the exact quote I found Obama said something similar in October and again in January.

      I have to wonder if this isn’t a bit of strategic manipulation by Obama here, and shortly before the SC primary. Obama is so loathed by the right wing, who literally consider him the Worst President Ever, and here he is saying Trump can’t do the job. I can see some GOP voters who might still be wavering choosing to vote Trump just to spite Obama. And certainly the Democrats hope Trump gets the nomination as they consider him the least viable of the remaining candidates (well, except Carson, who has no realistic chance) in the general election.

  • MyOhMy

    Facts & Figures: South Carolina Trump Supporters on the Civil War
    By The Editors [New York Times]
    February 16, 2016 12:17 pm February 16, 2016 12:17 pm

    “Thirty-eight percent of Donald Trump supporters in South Carolina wish the South had won the Civil War, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling. Another 38 percent are undecided, and 24 percent are glad the North won.”

    • MyOhMy
    • Schadenboner

      Wait, the North won?

      • so-in-so

        Well, some claim do to bad officiating.

      • Hogan

        Yes, but we didn’t cover the spread.

      • Warren Terra

        It’s complicated. The North won, but the South went into extra time.

        • toberdog

          The South is still playing, all right. Reagan kicked off the umpteenth OT in Philadelphia, MS.

    • JKTH

      And 12% of Carson supporters wish the South had won. Granted that’s the lowest among all the candidates but still…

    • ajay

      “Thirty-eight percent of Donald Trump supporters in South Carolina wish the South had won the Civil War, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling. Another 38 percent are undecided, and 24 percent are glad the North won.”

      That is truly amazing. They managed to poll a group of extremely right-wing white people in South Carolina, and 62% of them said they didn’t wish the South had won?

      • NonyNony

        It actually suggests that Trump’s support is more diverse than I’ve been giving him credit for.

    • Hallen

      As a South Carolinian who only recently moved to the North (and hates it, a lot, albeit not strictly for cultural reasons), if I’d been asked that question I’d probably have been offended. Of course nobody really thinks the South should have won, right?

      Apparently, I’m wrong. Well, anyway, the climate is much nicer, and I enjoyed having even a shitty doc review job more than not having a shitty doc review job. Sigh.

  • joe from Lowell

    Even as the field keeps shrinking, Trump doesn’t go above about 37%. I thought he’d be higher now that the field is smaller.

    • so-in-so

      Didn’t someone here claim he had a low ceiling? That was one of the “how Trump loses” scenarios; that he tops out until the field shrinks enough for all the anti-Trump to consolidate behind one non-Trump candidate.

    • Murc

      This ain’t that surprising. Mittens and Johnny Bombsalot both only took SC with around 35-40% of the vote. It’s an early state in a crowded field. (The field is still pretty crowded.)

      Trump might very well have a low ceiling, but you can win perfectly well with that. Mitt Romney did it.

      • CrunchyFrog

        And, as Sam Wang pointed out, in their infinite wisdom the GOP elders changed the nomination rules for 2016 to favor even more a McCain or Romney-like candidate who can consistently win the plurality but never the majority of the vote. Their thinking was that they’d continue to have one establishment candidate against a number of hopefuls appealing to the base.

        So, in theory if it were down to Trump vs Bush or Trump vs Rubio then Trump would lose as almost all of the non-Trump votes would congeal around the other candidate. I’m not sure if this is true. I suspect that the Cruz voters in particular would at least split between Trump and the others, and more likely would go majority Trump. Race … um, I mean Immigration … is the biggest issue for the base right now and Rubio and Bush score horribly on that point from the base p.o.v.

        • FFFFFFIIII

          Yes, I don’t see Carson/Cruz supporters going out of their way to vote for Bush/Kasich. Rubio and Trump seem to be the only candidates in this race that appeal to more than one segment of GOP primary voters.

  • Joe_JP

    I was listening to him speak to reporters and the 9/11 bit came up and darn if he sounds pretty reasonable. In time, he started to sound a bit more like the celebrity talk show version of himself, but as a whole, he sounded sane. Promoted various insane Republican talking points, but pretty sane.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      hell of a thing when you look at someone with a good shot at being President and think, “well, he’s a compulsive liar but at least he’s not nuts”

      except it’s only in comparison to the other candidates that he’s sane…

    • Schadenboner

      I’ve often found that the dislike I have for Trump is moderated by the fact he’s pretty clearly the least floridly psychotic of the bunch.

      Donald Trump: the sane man’s Ted Cruz.

      Jesus wept, we’re doomed aren’t we?

    • D.N. Nation

      During the last debate, Trump was frequently the sanest person on the stage. He even half-defended Planned Parenthood.

      • Lee Rudolph

        During the last debate, Trump was frequently the sanest person on the stage.

        Sanity is like sincerity: if you can fake it, you’ve got it made!

  • JKTH

    South Carolina voters do seem to have responded to the Rubiobot’s new software

    Not really, no. Trump’s leading SC by as much as he was before that debate and if anything Rubio’s gained since then. Trump’s always had a big lead in SC, you know, because of his white supremacist anti-establishment views.

    • djw

      Well, his polling average has gone up, from 11-12% to ~16%, so that indicates some sort of response, even if he’s not taking a bite out of Trump’s support (which, obviously, isn’t where one would expect an increase in Rubio’s support to come from).

      • JKTH

        Er, I misinterpreted that. I thought Scott meant Rubio was falling in the polls.

      • howard

        this is the one aspect of the poll that surprises me. i’m being overly literal here, but somehow, 1 out of every 25 south carolina republicans decided in the last week or two that rubio was the man?

        • CrunchyFrog

          Remember some candidates did bow out, and they did have a few percentage of the vote – perhaps Rubio was the main beneficiary.

          • howard

            strictly speaking you’re almost certainly right: the part that amazes me is that having watched christie eviscerate rubio in the new hampshire debate, these former x or y voters (or undecideds) concluded that rubio was the man?

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              all I can get out of it is that yes Ted Cruz really is that repellent as a person. it’s the only thing that I can see leading someone to prefer an empty suit like Rubio

              • N__B

                0 > -100

        • djw

          Why would that be terribly surprising or improbable? (The debate thing was bad, but it’s easy to overstate the impact of debates.)

          • howard

            sorry, i got busy and distracted, so to answer the question of why was i surprised (since maybe it’s me that’s reading the tea leaves wrongly!):

            obviously it’s entirely possible that a 4% movement is entirely random noise, but still, i like to try and personalize these numbers, which is why i went for the 1 in 25 added on to rubio’s previous support.

            and i ask myself, what could possibly account for that increase? yes, i could see that if you were already committed to rubio, the high-profile evisceration combined with a whole bunch of nothingburgers elsewhere, maybe you remain unshaken, but you know, to that an adult in the next 10 houses to mine saw anything new about rubio in the last two weeks to become additive support is hard for me to understand.

            so maybe i shouldn’t be surprised and should just attribute it to noise and low-information voters coming late to the game and being unaware of what happened the first 8 innings, but that’s why: what makes someone today say “i’ve been for x or y or even undecided but now i’ve seen something in rubio that convinces me?”

  • CrunchyFrog

    If one looks at SC GOP voters as being very evangelical then I can see doubting whether Trump will perform well. If we see them as being loyal to GWB, same thing. But if we see them as simply being motivated by racial issues – which we refer to in code as “immigration” issues – then a Trump victory makes a lot of sense.

    Keep in mind racial issues aren’t just anti-black. The recent waves of Hispanic and East and South Asian immigrants are on their minds as well. A topic of big concern to SC GOP voters is that English be the only official language. They object to government materials printed in other languages and no doubt would support a ban on non-English shop signs (as Montreal passed years ago) if it were proposed.

    So then consider who the top three competitors are for Trump right now. Two are Hispanic, one married an Hispanic. All speak Spanish to some degree – although that may be stretching it for Cruz. Two of them (Rubio and Bush) were considered to be leaders in the since-abandoned GOP Hispanic outreach movement, and as such have a history of advocating policies that make it easier for immigrants to become citizens.

    Trump, OTOH, is saying he’s going to deport all of them and even throw out some who became citizens. Cruz is trying to say similar, but he’s an immigrant of Cuban descent and Trump won’t let the voters forget that.

    I can see Trump sweeping the GOP south.

    • Schadenboner

      Two of them (Rubio and Bush) were considered to be leaders in the since-abandoned GOP Hispanic outreach movement

      “Abandoned” in the sense of “Caught fire, turtled, and sank with all hands”?

      • Warren Terra

        I think that if you take something and in full public view you gleefully beat it to smithereens while chanting hateful slogans at it, it’s not called “abandoning” that thing.

        • Lee Rudolph

          I don’t know; that sounds like gay abandon to me.

          Well, not gay, precisely.

    • Hallen

      Minor point: I suspect a mandatory language for private business signage (mandating English, mandating Spanish, or mandating anything) would get killed on First Amendment grounds anyway, even given the lower standards for regulating commercial speech.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Those portions of the first amendment that aren’t the free exercise clause are optional.

        • DAS

          You forget: the GOP are very big on “corporate free speech”.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      a ban on non-English shop signs (as Montreal passed years ago)

      Montreal passed a ban on non-English shop signs? I’m trying to figure out how the Bloc Quebecois allowed that to happen.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Oops.

  • Bruce Vail

    The Tea Party and assorted ultra-righties (Breitbart, Mark Levin, etc…) paved the way for Trump with their attacks on Bush’s domestic policies over the last 10 years. They made it okay to be a conservative and to criticize Bush. Trump just took the attacks to slightly higher level.

  • joe from Lowell
    • CrunchyFrog

      Still thinking Clinton-Trump in the general, but at this point a Clinton could lose it, which is shocking. Sanders-Trump would be fascinating on so many levels.

      The poll was conducted Feb 10-15, so is both before and after Trump’s debate comments about Bush, Planned Parenthood, etc.

      • joe from Lowell

        I wonder whether the first LGM post acknowledging that there is a genuinely-competitive Democratic primary will appear before or after Sanders posts his first lead in a national poll.

        I further wonder how many posts about his allegedly fatal weakness among some demographic sub-group will appear between now and that post.

        I have to admire Campos for sticking his neck out early on Trump.

        • witlesschum

          Why aren’t you counting, for instance, Loomis’ posts about how he doesn’t care that much who wins as acknowledging a genuinely-competitive Democratic primary? I don’t think they were premised on the idea Sanders had no chance of beating Clinton.

          • joe from Lowell

            Because he didn’t say anything one way or the other about Sanders’ chances, and because he doesn’t explain electoral politics, writing instead about other topics.

            Which, btw, is totally fine. I’m talking about the bloggers here who do analyze the state of the election contests. I don’t expect, say, Katie Surrance to write about Sanders’ chances.

        • random

          The Quinnipiac poll is notorious for over-sampling white voters (they’ve actually stopped reporting their racial breakdown after they were getting hit over this).

          • joe from Lowell

            Q was the most accurate national pollster for Iowa. But, regardless, even if you apply some random-friendly corrections, we’re still in the high single digits, and all the polls show it tightening.

            Also this. I know that Nevada has been recently designated an all-white state, but still…

            BTW, “notorious” among whom?

            • random

              The Quinnipiac poll is notorious for over-sampling white voters

              Q was the most accurate national pollster for Iowa.

              These two statements don’t contradict each other.

              For all we know, they have fixed the problem since then. Or maybe it actually is the case that only 5-6% of the national voting population is black, in which case we’re toast in November anyway. But they conspicuously stopped reporting their demographic breakdown after people pointed out the problem, which doesn’t fill me with much confidence either way.

              • joe from Lowell

                Yes, yes, you want to poop on the Q poll. We get it. You don’t have to say it over and over. You think the spread is probably larger. Me too; I even wrote that.

                The results are consistently closing, and if the “real” results are not in the single digits, they will be by the end of the month.

                It’s time to stop pretending the race is a foregone conclusion.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Q was the most accurate national pollster for Iowa.

              Is it even possible to over-sample white voters caucus-goers in Iowa?

      • Hercules Mulligan

        The only thing keeping me from applauding a hypothetical Sanders-Trump election is the existence of Mike Bloomberg, Soon-to-be History’s Greatest Monster.

    • This seems to be near the normal variation of polls:

      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_democratic_presidential_nomination-3824.html#polls

      It’s closer than any other, but the USA today poll has a 10 pt spread and is as recent.

      ETA: Don’t get me wrong, it’s interesting. But there was one as close as +4 last month. But some from last week are +20.

      • random

        The Quinnipiac this year has been notorious.

      • joe from Lowell

        Yeah but, in a race where a ten-point spread is a rebuttal to a two-point spread, should “Stick a fork in it” still be the unchallengeable narrative?

        • Er…no? (Is someone significant saying that “Stick a fork in it” is unchallengable? But these are national right? The primaries of note seem still quite Clintony last time I looked.)

          But…I’m responding to the ruh-roh. There’s also a +18 and a +21 from the week before.

          Consider the IBD/TIPP which was:
          1/22 – 1/27 Clinton +12

          but

          1/4 – 1/8 Clinton +4

          I agree it’s interesting, just not as shocking *to me* in context as I felt when I read your comment.

          • joe from Lowell

            Is someone significant saying that “Stick a fork in it” is unchallengable?

            Well, that was the unchallengeable line the last time the topic was addressed on this blog, and there has been no effort to alter it.

            Is that still the line here? I’d love to hear an answer.

            • Oh, that wasn’t my impression. It was more, “Possible but very hard”

              For me it’s gone from “super hard” to “hard but I don’t have a good sense of how hard”.

              Bernie certainly has overcome any funding or org issues I was concerned about. There doesn’t seem to be any structural campaign challenge anymore. That’s pretty big.

        • random

          A 10-point national spread between only two candidates this late in the game is at least within visible distance of ‘stick a fork in it’ territory, yes.

          • joe from Lowell

            Lol

            There have been two contests. One was a tie. One was a blowout for Sanders. The next was supposed to be in a Hillary firewall state, and appears to be tied. It’s over!

            This is the level of silliness one needs to buy into in order to maintain the inevitability narrative. “An ever-tightening race that is at 10 points after New Hampshire is over, baby. Done!”

            The best way to tell the race is open is this line from the Clintonites. Back when there really was good reason to think it wasn’t remotely competitive, they pushed back against the line about an inevitable coronation whenever it came up. NOBODY IS SAYING THAT STOP SAYING SOMEONE IS SAYING THAT. Now, they feel great motivation to insist upon it. I wonder what that could mean?

            • MDrew

              It’s the same progression from ’08, just much more dramatic because of the starting point.

              It’s an amazing thing. There really was no reason to think there was a race among Democrats. Then the campaign started.

              Is Bernie *that good*? Sorry folks, that’s just not my view.

              Again, this is an echo of the past, except louder this time not fainter. I’m a little concerned now.

              • random

                It’s the same progression from ’08, just much more dramatic because of the starting point.

                At a comparable point in 2008 (right before the SC primary) it was a 3-way race and Obama had spiked in South Carolina, after having won a somewhat surprising victory in IA. Edwards dropped out right after this, making it a 2-way race with Obama solidly in the lead from that point forward.

            • random

              One was a tie. One was a blowout for Sanders.

              An outcome that almost everyone has predicted for several months now.

              “An ever-tightening race that is at 10 points after New Hampshire is over, baby. Done!”

              More or less, yes. He needed to be beating her in at least half the national polls at this point in order to even be in super-delegate range. Instead he’s trailing her in every single one of them.

              The best way to tell the race is open is this line from the Clintonites.

              No.

              • You keep on saying IA = tie, NH = blowout had been widely predicted for months. Last thread this came up in, I presented you with polling averages showing that Sanders only took a runaway lead in NH in the month before the primary, and that Sanders had only closed in IA within that same period. You ignored that and just asserted again that IA and NH were both foregone conclusions for months.

                FiveThirtyEight considered Clinton to be the more likely winner in NH up until mid-January. I think that shows a flaw in their model and that most observers were more bullish on Sanders before then, but they were within a point of each other as late as January 4.

                They showed Clinton at 80-90% up until the eve of the IA caucus, at which point she dipped to a measly 67%. Clinton was polling 15% ahead of Sanders until early January.

                IA and NH are not good data points for your argument for the essential immutability of electoral races. Both of them changed substantially and rapidly within the last month.

                I would be surprised if you could cite even a single prediction (in a newspaper or other established media platform) before late December 2015 that Sanders would win NH in a blowout. It simply was not the conventional wisdom at the time that Sanders could do any better than eke out a win, largely on the basis of being from a neighboring state.

        • The sites I’ve been reading are pretty close to the conventional wisdom (Vox, 538) and they both seem to be pretty reliably in the “Sanders can do it, but it’ll be harder than IA/NH was” camp. Which seems correct.

  • John F

    Compared to this point in 2012 Trump (35-40) is polling better than Romney (30-35) and Cruz (15-20) is not polling quite as well as Santorum (25-30) and Rubio (12-18) is slightly lagging where Gingrich was (15-20).

    Math-wise/delegate count-wise the Romney “path” is wide open for Trump -even as I doubt there’s much overlap between their actual supporters- I think Trump has basically consolidated the Newt and Ron Paul voters- and the Romney voters remain largely split between Rubio, Bush and Kasich, some are missing and I think the “missing” Romney voters are going for Trump.

    Cruz isn’t doing as well as Santorum because Carson is hanging in…

  • Crusty

    What’s up with Trump’s suit jackets? They’re way too baggy. I’m sure that’s in part done to hide his expanding, doughy, mid-section, but still, he can get a better fit. He must have some weird yes man of a tailor who’s too afraid to speak up. Or maybe he’s just an asshole.

    • Hogan

      When you’re getting out-tailored by Bernie Sanders, there is work to be done.

      • joe from Lowell

        Sometimes I think Sanders’ suits are too nice. They don’t go with his head. It looks like he borrowed them.

        • Davis X. Machina

          My father-in-law — a Newark school teacher — always looked like a bond trader.

          Is there a 76-year old Jewish guy from NYC who doesn‘t know somebody in the rag trade?

          • joe from Lowell

            A fair point.

    • DAS

      Republicans running for/in high national office tend to have ill-fitting suits: it’s part of the look — kind of like how TV evangelists dress like stereotypes of used car salesmen. Look at how poorly fitting GW Bush’s suits were, for example. I think this trend started with Nixon. Of course Nixon was the world’s poorest corporate attorney: if he had to be corrupt just to afford to get his kids a dog and his wife a cloth coat, he had an excuse for such ill fitting suits. Certainly people like GW Bush and Trump could afford better suits — and, perhaps those suits are indeed very expensive, but just are designed to be poorly fitted as befits a Republican.

      • Crusty

        I have never noticed this trend and W’s suits fit just fine. The only thing that made them maybe not look so fine is that he often looked uncomfortable wearing a suit, like a little kid being dragged to church or something. I’m sure Trump thinks his suits are terrific and the best and they show the world what a successful billionaire he is.

        I’ve heard the sentiment you express applied to plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers, never to republican presidential candidates.

        • CrunchyFrog

          Sometimes the wearer makes the suit look worse. I remember a comment in the business section many years ago about a CEO who could “make a $500 suit look like it came from K-Mart”, back when $500 was real money.

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