The Trump Wild Card

Blog hiatus be damned. It’s an election year, and a girl’s gotta blog!

How did we get here?

Bernie’s doing far, far better than he expected. I think he was asked to step into the race in order to keep Hillary in the news cycle with debates and speeches. He thought he might push her a little to the left. A few months of work and then done.

Surprise! He’s a contender! In the end, Hillary is still going to get the nomination, but Bernie is really killing it.

And, of course, we have the asshole as the leader for the Republicans. WTF? Nobody predicted this. NOBODY. First of all, how are all us so stupid? How come all these people who professionally predict these matters were so totally wrong. Take away their six figure paychecks and give them to me! Failures all of them.

Second, why are so many people supporting him? WTF? Well, I do think there something to the theory that a lot of people are pissed off for their crappy jobs, their kids’ crappy education, their crappy car, and the credit card debt. When you’re that pissed off, you take the Hail Mary shot. You vote for a fascist or a socialist. American Exceptionalism says that Americans never do this. We never vote for the extremists. Well, that whole theory of American Exceptionalism is out the window, too.

Third random point, Trump may have indeed brought about a party realignment. A party realignment is a really, really rare event. It’s only happened like five times ever in American history. It’s a massive and sudden change in a political party’s demographic composition and policy priorities. For example, in 1930, FDR totally changed the Democratic party bringing in new immigrant groups, urban areas, and African-Americans. Trump has started saying that he was doing that. Maybe.

Fourth random point. I think Trump’s appeal is more than simply speaking to pissed-off, working class whites. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it’s because he really doesn’t talk about policy at all. Because nobody wants to hear that. They just want slogans about walls and shit. This is awful.

Alright, I’m walking away for a bit. Back later.

49 thoughts on “The Trump Wild Card

  1. here’s a hell of a quote: “On the liberal (or, as they say now, progressive) end of the spectrum the reaction has been chiefly one of smugness (“well, that’s what the Republicans are, we knew it all along”), schadenfreude(“pass the popcorn”), and chicken-counting (“now we can get a head start on Hillary’s first Inaugural”). Their insouciance will be stripped away if Trump becomes the nominee and turns his cunning, ferocity, and charm on an inept, boring politician trailing scandals as old as dubious investments with a 1,000 percent return and as fresh as a homebrew email server. He might lose. He might, however, very well tear her to pieces. Clearly, he relishes the prospect, because he despises the politicians he has bought over the years.”

    I’m probly going to stay home on primary day. Drezner says today in the Post that the Reeps are in such trouble because they listened to political scientists who dismissed Trump’s chances – that it was in each ‘serious’ candidate’s interest that somebody else take him on, and no one did. Who will bell the cat? No one belled the cat.

    As to the general, it’s hard for me to decide whether I dislike Clinton or Trump more. By the time election day rolls around, I will probably have come to a conclusion on that. My #2 kid is an enthusiastic Bernie-Backer, for all the good that will do him. #1 just got his notification from the registrar that he had signed up too late for the primary, we’ll see what he chooses to do in the general.


  2. Bernie’s doing far, far better than he expected. I think he was asked to step into the race in order to keep Hillary in the news cycle with debates and speeches. He thought he might push her a little to the left. A few months of work and then done.

    He was drafted into the race because Warren refused, and there’s a metric fuckton of Democrats who are sick and tired of the warmed-over Reaganism (but new! and improved! because gay marriage and pro-choice!) Hillary represents.

    FWIW, out here in flyover country, there isn’t much visible on-the-ground support of Trump. I take that as heartening. I mean, when it comes to wackaloon candidates, there were a hell of a lot more Ross Perot and Ron Paul yard signs and bumper stickers back in the day than there are Trump signs. Someone put up a bunch of Trump signs on the intersection that leads toward the powerhouse where I’m currently working (it’s a shutdown, mega-overtime and hundreds of tradespeople)—but I have yet to hear anyone, in any trade, speak with any charity towards Trump. Veterans have not forgotten about his comments about McCain, and he’s universally regarded as an asshole with a big mouth that has what he has because of who his daddy was. Born on third base, tells everyone he hit a triple.

    On the other hand, Bernie bumperstickers and buttons are thick on the ground.


  3. That’s funny, lubbidu, here in blue MA I see a surprising number of Trump bumper stickers but of course, more than one seems like a lot.

    I loathe Trump but I have a great deal of sympathy for his supporters. Income inequality and globalization and related trends have been an unmitigated disaster for the American middle and working classes and, although I think Trump’s supporters’ solutions are wrong, they are straight up correct that voting for Jeb or Marco (or Hilary) will be just more of the same. What I am curious about is this: How many of Trump’s supporters honestly think Trump will be able to do things he’s pledging that are completely unrealistic and/or unconstitutional, like building walls, deporting illegal immigrants and non-citizen Muslims, and tearing down mosques – and furthermore, believe that their own prospects will be improved as a result? And how many are voting for Trump as a big middle-finger to the powers that be?

    I’m sort of in “pass the popcorn” mode, watching the Republican leadership writhe and the media print articles about how Trump supporters are super stupid and racist and how Trump is really a crap businessman, like that is going to convince anyone planning to vote for him.

    What disappoints me is that I don’t see a party realignment- the Republicans seem to be taking their supporters at their word about some things (we hate immigrants) but completely ignoring the conditions that have lead to this revolt (selling them out economically).


  4. I think both Trump and Sanders are tapping into the same sense of disaffection. It’s also interesting to me to watch the Sanders camp on FB. It seems to me that a lot of them are becoming like the right in their beliefs of conspiracy theories. Every time I try to post any sort of substantive information about polling data, for instance, I get the response – well, who’s running those polls ? The corporate media and Wall Street, so they can’t be trusted at all. And they post all these crazy stories from these crazy-left wing websites about how cover ups and conspiracies are keeping the Bern down.

    As another example one of my colleagues posted the other day that Tulsi Gabbard must have had to step down from the DNC to endorse Bernie because of corruption in the DNC and machinations from the Clinton campaign – his words, not mine. Of course, some are suggesting that she stepped down because she wants to be considered as a VP contender for Sanders. Now, I know not all Bernie supporters are like this, but I am starting to see this as really troubling and potentially bad for the Democrats in November.

    Finally, I’ll add that I am one of those political scientists that said a Trump nomination would NEVER happen, although not as loudly as some others. What I didn’t foresee is the real pigheadedness of some of the Republican candidates – they have zero shot at the nomination, but refuse to step down. Kudos (at least) to Bush for seeing this and dropping out. That having been said, I can’t see either Cruz or Rubio dropping out, which in the end, may thrown the nomination to the Donald.


  5. I think a Trump presidency would be truly scary; he is an inexperienced demagogue who engages in truly dangerous “other”/”victim” rhetoric in every aspect of his life, from his political campaign, to his businesses, to his court dealings.

    I think anyone who would seriously consider voting for him for President is venturing into dangerous territory themselves. I am shocked by Christie. I’m also shocked by Le Page turning about from (private) aggressive advocacy against Trump to supporting him. I think a Trump candidacy will hurt Republicans down the ticket and that Republicans are making foolish assumptions about the ability of others to sway Trump into a more reasonable course as a candidate or as a president.

    But, I would also never be foolish enough to imagine that it is impossible for him to win the presidency (though I do think he will lose). We will have to work hard to defeat him.

    We’ll know more after today.


    1. I honestly don’t know what to hope for here. I think Cruz is just as scary. I don’t put it past the US to vote either of them in. I think Trump may have more potential to turn out the vote, so then do I hope for Cruz to get in so it’s easier for Hilary (likely) to win? I just don’t know what to think. In January I predicted it would be Rubio. I’m thinking it’s Trump now. I’m hoping he is smarter than he appears. It’s scary to me that so many people in the US still want what he is selling.


      1. In many polls Hilliary beats Trump but loses to Cruz, so if you want her to win it would be better if Trump gets the nomination.

        In the latest CNN poll Hillary is predicted to beat Trump by 8%– but loses to Rubio by 3% and loses to Cruz by 1%.

        Sanders wins against all three Republicans and with bigger margins. He beats Trump by 12%, beats Cruz by 17% and beats Rubio by 8%.

        Click to access rel4b.-.2016.general.pdf


  6. I heard Cruz’s victory speech and was horrified to think that I might actually prefer Trump — he’s apparently better than Trump because he would investigate Planned Parenthood, push whatever supreme court nominee he wants through congress (how?), rip up the Iran nuclear deal, and be biased on Israel/Palestine. I wouldn’t have thought it possible that he could find issues that I’d agree with Trump over anyone else (but, I guess I’m not the voter for either of them).

    Christie Todd Whitman was on the radio sounding very sad and angry about Trump today, and said she’d vote for Clinton over Trump on Monday.


    1. bj said:

      “I wouldn’t have thought it possible that he could find issues that I’d agree with Trump over anyone else (but, I guess I’m not the voter for either of them).”

      Wait 5 minutes–Trump will change his mind on those issues, too.

      Politicians often get criticized for flipflopping, but almost always on a much longer cycle of flips and flops than Trump has been on the last few weeks. With just about any major politician, there’s a reasonable explanation for where the changes are coming from, but Trump’s changes in position are erratic and unpredictable. His party affiliation illustrates this:

      1999–Independence party
      2011–“I do not wish to enroll in a party”

      I know it’s a no-no to internet diagnose people, but would a person in his right mind have so much trouble picking a party and sticking with it for oh…three years?


  7. When are the Republicans going to get smart and draft Lindsey Graham? Seriously. I don’t agree with his politics, but at least he is sane.


  8. I’m seeing very few bumperstickers in TX. I’ve seen a Bernie, a couple for Hilary, a couple for Ben Carson, one (?) Cruz, one pro-Trump, one profanely anti-Trump, and no Rubio at all. (No Kasich of course–I bet not even Kasich’s mom has a Kasich bumper sticker.) It’s very sparse.

    In our social circle, my parents in WA have Trump fever and a good friend in TX’s husband is also smitten. My sis and I are horrified and don’t get it–three marriages, four bankruptcies, and half a dozen different party loyalties in the last 30 years. It’s not a pattern typical of a healthy mind.

    I just woke up from a Rip van Winkle sleep of not paying attention to politics and I’ve been binging on election news the last couple days. And now that I’ve woken up, I just realized that it’s time to send a person not named Trump a check to run attack ads with.


    1. At this point, you may as well just send it to Hillary. She’s got only a very slightly worse chance of winning the Republican primary than Rubio.


  9. “Donald Trump is the outperformer in most Republican presidential polls going into Super Tuesday, but he may be an underperformer in real estate after 40 years of dealmaking. Would he be a better president than property manager?

    ““Mr. Trump has underperformed the real estate market by approximately $13.2 billion, or 57%,” since 1976, says John Griffin, a finance professor at the University of Texas, who compared Trump’s stated net worth with four decades of returns on the FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITS FNER, +0.02% Index.”

    He’s also really, really bad at running casinos.

    “For 10 years between 1995 and 2005, Donald Trump ran Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts — and he did it so badly and incompetently that it collapsed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. His stockholders were almost entirely wiped out, losing a staggering 89% of their money. The company actually lost money every single year. In total it racked up more than $600 million in net losses over that period.”

    “Meanwhile, over the same period, all his competitors were enjoying an enormous boom. Take a look at our chart.”


    1. I stayed in the Trump Taj Mahal once. It’s where I formed about 75% of my impression of New Jersey. (Also 20% the Newark Airport and 5% the Philly Suburbs.) About half the casino patrons were attached to oxygen tanks, but they also had more money than me. They closed down all the $10 tables early and I don’t have enough of a bankroll to play at $25 a hand.


    2. What gets me is all the people who *think* he’s successful, simply because *he tells them he is*. If you’re modest but effective, hey, you’re not “strong.” But if you’re a big blowhard with a so–so record of success but really good at pretending, then you’re a “strong” leader.

      Eff Trump voters. Seriously. My sister’s co-worker (in a real estate office) explained that she is a Trump voter because she “just doesn’t feel safe” any more, like, what if a San Bernardino happened on Long Island? Fear is what is motivating people. This article really rang true.


      1. Wendy said:

        “What gets me is all the people who *think* he’s successful, simply because *he tells them he is*. If you’re modest but effective, hey, you’re not “strong.” But if you’re a big blowhard with a so–so record of success but really good at pretending, then you’re a “strong” leader.”

        I know!

        Not to depress you all, but there is a natural tendency of narcissists to float to the top:

        “Ohio – When a group is without a leader, you can often count on a narcissist to take charge, a new study suggests.

        “Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups. Narcissism is a trait in which people are self-centered, exaggerate their talents and abilities, and lack empathy for others.”

        “Narcissists, by definition, are self-centered and overconfident in their own abilities.”

        “And while narcissists are more likely to become leaders, results of one of the studies suggests that, once in power, narcissists don’t perform any better than others in that leadership role.”

        On the bright side, the spell eventually fades.

        “Paulhus brought strangers together to engage in weekly 20-minute group discussion over a period of seven weeks. They had people rate how they perceived others in the group after week one and then again at the last session (after seven weeks). He found that narcissism was initially related to positive evaluations, such as “assertive”, “confident”, “entertaining”, “exciting”, and “intelligent”. Seven weeks later, however, the same narcissists were evaluated much more negatively, receiving much higher ratings on characteristics such as “arrogant”, “tendency to brag”, and “hostile”. These findings provided some of the first evidence for narcissists’ declining popularity in social groups. But the question still remained: why the loss in popularity?”

        So, perhaps the cure for Trump is more Trump?


  10. Josh has written a lot of fairly dull stuff lately, but this is pretty good:

    “The third factor is I think the least obvious but for these purposes the most important. On the radicalized, revanchist right, provocation and transgression of norms isn’t simply indulged. It functions as a positive good. It is a feature, not a bug, to use the tech phrase. What the mainstream electorate might view as an ‘outrage’ is actually signal of the willingness to tear down a corrupt order that is unwilling (Democrats and elites) or unable (RINOs, mainstream GOP) to turn back the tide of threat. So whether or not you think it’s a good idea to kill terrorists families, saying you will is a signal that you won’t accept limits. How can Trump break all the rules and pay no price? What’s his magic? Changing your positions, obviously lying, taunting enemies – none of these hurt Trump because his core supporters are not seeing them through the same prism you likely are. They’re not signs of deception, bad character or untrustworthiness. They all signal a refusal to accept the norms of the threatening order and thus a willingness to overturn it.”

    He’s only talking about a part of the Republican primary electorate, but I think that he’s on to something. If they’re high-information, they’re the kind of voter who thought that Newt had sold them out by mid-95. They’ve been hungering for what R candidates keep promising them ever since.

    But I also think that Josh is right that this is nowhere near a majority of voters.


    1. The psychology of this is fascinating.
      My big question, however, is how do we challenge it effectively? All these analyses aren’t telling me what I can *do*, and that frustrates me!


      1. Get out the vote for the Democratic nominee (down-ticket, the principle is “more and better Democrats,” for whatever value of “better” you favor), and let the Rs rebuild their own damn party. That’s what I plan on doing.


      2. I had exactly the same “what can I do” question. Seriously considered voting in a Republican primary for the first time in my life, for Kasich, in hopes of a brokered convention. There were no contested races for anything but president among the Dems on my local and state ballot, and I’ve barely followed Bernie and Hillary – assuming I would be swayed by some Bernie positions but eventually go with Hillary out of pragmatism. But in the end I decided to keep my votes with the Democrats.

        I looked pretty hard for recommendations on how Democrats should think about anti-Trump voting in their home states, assuming they are allowed to vote in the Republican primary, but there wasn’t much. Obviously neither Bernie nor Hillary would want to support it (I know someone working for her at a fairly high state level, and he didn’t want to recommend it, though he was sympathetic). But I hope more people will be thinking and writing about this after today.


  11. If Kasich wins Ohio tonight and Rubio doesn’t win Florida, Rubio has been bad enough at running for president to turn a three-way race into a four-way race. Or really, a two-way race that has nobody with a majority and the top candidates are both (accurately) considered to be huge assholes by the people who make the rules for the convention. So, contested convention with John Kasich getting the nomination and a split in the Republican Party coupled with minor riots and a bit more sieg heiling than one hopes to see?


    1. I can’t believe this is happening. If the seig heiling wasn’t so terrifying, I might actually enjoy the chaos.

      Working on an article on college coaches. Major learning curve happening here.

      I was on NPR last week.


      1. I heard. On Twitter, that is, but not the radio.

        I may be less terrified by the seig heiling because of my experiences playing a Nazi in a high school production of the Sound of Music.


      2. Why do college sports coaches make so much money. An explainer on college sports finances. Have to call the sports orgs today. Worried because I know nothing about college sports.


      3. Penn State fans are the worst about coaches. They practically worship a moved statue of Joe Paterno like it’s a golden calf and political repercussions of his firing are still bouncing around the state.


  12. Way back in the “Procrastination Sunday” thread, I predicted that Kasich would become the candidate of the establishment Republicans (or “rational Republicans” as bj had put it). I’m calling that one a win.


  13. Do any of you live in Ohio? I do. Kasich would be the third term of GW. You really want to do that again?

    Trump isn’t going to win the presidency but Kasich could win over Clinton. As some of you are proving, people fall for his act.

    Please, powers of the universe, don’t make it so that I have to come back to this blog in a couple of years and tell everyone here I told you so.


  14. As I’ve mentioned before, I was in Ohio when Kasich first ran for congress. I’ve disliked him intensely since (he was a weasel-mouthed, misleading, and rude to his driver and his opponent, and condescending to the young women he was talking to). I certainly don’t want him to be president over Hillary Clinton (or Bernie Sanders). But, I would prefer him to Trump or Cruz. And I”m not willing to bank on the concept that either of those guys will necessarily lose in the general election.

    I’m guessing the chances that it will be Clinton-Rubio went way down? Especially since Rubio seems chastened and not chasing the prize. It must have been truly disheartening to lose in Florida for Rubio.


      1. Dublin, other suburbs, and parts of Columbus, Not Upper Arlington, which was already represented by a Republican. He beat Bob Shamansky in that election. I couldn’t vote, but he spoke at our school. At some point, he snapped his fingers to call his driver. I did not like him.


      2. I don’t recall ever seeing his name on a ballot, but I lived in or near that district for several years. I was in the part of Columbus that was just north of Upper Arlington.


  15. “Worried because I know nothing about college sports.”

    Aah, but that’s what you do, figure out stuff that you don’t necessarily know anything about and explain it to other people who don’t know anything about it. Good luck!


    1. MH said:

      “I thought Rubio was supposed to be the one with the mistresses, not Cruz.”

      Nah, Rubio was supposed to be the gay one.

      By the way, can we can the use of the term “mistress” when there isn’t a financial relationship?


      1. Well, not necessarily gay, but allegedly having done gay porn. The CDAN gossip commenters seem to believe there is some connection between MR and a gay porn producer.

        Also, I don’t care about Cruz’s alleged lovers or Rubio’s alleged acting jobs. I assume all men in power do not know how to control themselves, except for Obama, who apparently has superhuman self-control and I hope that when he leaves office, he and Michelle and whomever they want to join them engage in a year-long orgy of decadence.


      2. Also, I don’t care about Cruz’s alleged lovers or Rubio’s alleged acting jobs.

        Sure. I’m very much above all that. Mostly I want to be right in my prediction that the Republican establishment will coalesce around Kasich.


      3. We have to use the term “mistress” because otherwise we can’t say “Cuban Mistress Crisis.”


  16. National Review, in a display of bad timing only equaled by Jeb!, picked today to come out swinging for Cruz. Three articles calling for Kasich to drop out and let Cruz be the anti-Trump.


  17. So? I am spending my time collecting up all the evidence of how terribly wrong everyone was, as a warning for November.

    A report on Syria was on the radio during the drive home from school, and my 12 year old asked me if anyone in Syria liked Bashar al-Assad. I said that there were some people who did, and tried to explain the self interest and status quo and disbelief that can generate support of such a person. In that context, I was asked whether something like that could happen here, in America. I tried to argue that it was unlikely, that our balance of powers and continuity and constitution and free press would keep us safe from tyranny.

    Clearly though complacency and dismissing or ridiculing Trump as a sociopathic liar isn’t going to be the right course; I am not foolish enough to believe that all the voters who supported Trump are going to change their minds.


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