Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Falling In Line

James Carville famously said that "Democrats need to fall in love, Republicans just need to fall in line."  There is increasingly mounting evidence that the GOP is falling in line behind Donald Trump. Since they hate Ted Cruz with a white-hot passion and Marco Rubio seems to be sleepwalking through his campaign, there are fewer and fewer options.  If Trump rides the endorsement of Caribou Barbie and Phyllis Schlafly to a win in Iowa, then Cruz is toast.  A win in New Hampshire and suddenly Trump is looking like the nominee.

As I wrote yesterday, I think a Trump nomination is legitimately scary for the fabric of American civil society, which is already so frayed.  While I doubt that he would govern from the extreme positions he has staked out from the stump, I'm also convinced he's a blithering idiot.  If Dubya was C+ Augustus, then Trump is Nero without the musical ability.

What will bear watching is how the GOP accommodates itself to the Donald's extreme positions on immigration and other civil rights' issues.  Will Trump move to the center if he wins the nomination?  Can he?  He has fairly heterodox positions for a Republican on issues such as Social Security and taxing the rich. Trump said in the past that if he ever ran for President it would be as a Republican, because the GOP voters are stupid.  (I'm not making that up.)  If he still believes that, then whatever he's saying now might be jettisoned by the convention.

But the damage is done in large parts of America.  And this is before anyone has really laid into him, at least on substantive issues.  Attacks on Trump have all come from the fantasy lands of the GOP fever swamps.  The fact that he literally has no idea what he's talking about has to hurt him when he's on a stage with Hillary Clinton....doesn't it?  And what might a Trump-Sanders contest look like?  Both are "shouting at the right buildings" but can Sanders lay the wood on Trump?  Can he be as nasty as he needs to be?

Ultimately, it comes down to the electoral math.  If you look at this electoral college map,  they list the following states as "swing states": NH, PA, OH, WI, IA, VA, NC, FL, CO and NV.

First off, Pennsylvania isn't a swing state anymore.  Not in Presidential elections.  So, if we give PA to the Dems, that gives them 237 of a needed 270 electoral votes.  Maybe Trump's unique appeal makes PA competitive, but Philly and Pittsburgh will vote overwhelmingly against Trump.

Second, if Trump runs the following states are going to move to the Dems: CO and NV.  There just isn't any way that the Hispanic voters in those states don't crawl over ground glass to vote against Trump.

Which brings us to Florida.  Florida's fastest growing demographic is non-Cuban Hispanics.  And frankly, Trump might even flip younger Cubans over to the Democrats.

That means Clinton - if it's her - can win the Presidency without winning Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia or North Carolina.  The reality is that she will probably do quite well in Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire.  I could see Trump winning Ohio, though.  He should outperform Romney in the Rust Belt and underperform Romney in the Hispanic heavy electorates.

The question is: What damage does he do to the country and the GOP before he is done?

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