Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Too Late For The Republican Party Establishment To Stop Trump?


As one DC wag tweeted early yesterday morning, "Donald Trump continues to refuse to peak." Perhaps he was referring to the new Morning Consult poll which now has the Trumpster at a whopping 40% among Republican primary voters (with Carson, #2, at just 14%, the only other candidate in double digits, Jeb at 6%, Rubio and Cruz tied at 5% and Fiorina now back in margin-of-error territory where she belongs, confirmed yesterday by a CNN poll showing her 15% had dissipated down to 4%. Even Republican voters figured her out pretty fast. But not Trump... yet.

Trump is just murdering Jeb on a daily basis. Trump lured him into a 9/11 quicksand trap that Jeb was too stupid to avoid and too weak to fight his way out of. One poll released yesterday shows Trump beating Jeb in Florida and yesterday PPP put one out showing Trump beating Bush, 49-41 in a head-to-head match-up in New Hampshire. Establishment gunslinger-for-hire Mike Murphy (the guy who ran the disastrous circuses for John McCain and Mitt Romney), currently drawing an astronomical paycheck from Jeb's shady Right To Rise SuperPAC, was interviewed this week by Sasha Isenberg for Bloomberg. Main take-away: Murphy called Trump a zombie front-runner and is still laboring under the delusion that Jeb is a first-tier candidate. Oh... and he says all the polls are bogus. Murphy's spin on Jeb:

I’ve worked for him for 18 years. I know he builds slowly and gets better and better. You saw in the debates, the second debate was strong, he'll continue to improve, he's doing well on the stump now. He can outlast the noise, his candidate performance will be excellent, and we're an amplifier. Our job is just to amplify his story and what he's saying and we banked enough cash that nobody's turning our speaker off. And we're the only campaign in that situation and I think we are the campaign who can consolidate the winning largest lane in the party and do so in a way that can win the general election, which I think is unique only to Jeb. And if you look at the prediction markets overseas, which are kind of interesting, because that's the one place real money's involved, we constantly rank number one. The smart money's figured this out. What hasn't figured it out is the day-to-day cable punditry-- but that's OK, that'll follow reality. So our job is to be tuned into reality and let that stuff catch up eventually. That’s kind of our theory.

...I don’t think [Trump's] been particularly good for the process, he's trivialized it. I remember working in foreign countries in the past where like the beer brands would each run a candidate for president as a marketing gimmick. I thought “God, I hope this never comes to us,” because it just makes the election kind of a cheap card trick. And here we are.

It created a false zombie front-runner. He’s dead politically, he'll never be president of the United States, ever. By definition I don't think you can be a front-runner if you're totally un-electable. I think there's there an a-priori logic problem in that... It's a huge amount of noise and so we're trying to find the signal in all this. You've seen Trump start to drop now. I think it'll be a very slow drop, but I think he'll continue to drop and the question is: is he ready to lose primaries, will he stay in? And nobody knows the answer to that... I think in his lane the guy with the most opportunity will probably be Cruz. Voters have some resistance, it seems, to go to Cruz, there's something there they don't like, but in that lane I would think he'd have the opportunity. Walker tried to get into that business and got squeezed out too early to really know, but if I had to make a hypothetical I'd probably guess that. But we think it's a minority lane, so a lot of what we want to do is consolidate the regular Republican, positive-conservative lane. That means the real competition from our point of view, the main competition over the long run, are we think weaker candidates in our lane that we can overcome. There are people we have respect for, but there's Governor Christie, Senator Rubio, Governor Pataki, Governor Kasich-- that's the vote we'd like to consolidate. Carly Fiorina pulls a little from both sides, probably more in our data from the other lane.
Governor Pataki. OK, sure. In the latest poll, the one from CNN, Trump had 27%, up 3 points since September. Jeb was tied with Rubio in 3rd place with 8%, both down from September. Now if Murphy is able to consolidate Christie's 4%, Rubio's 8% Pataki's 0%, Kasich's 3% with Jeb, he winds up with 23% to Trump's 27%. And that helps explain the post from Byron York yesterday for the right-wing website, Panicked establishment gets ready for war against Trump. Grrrrrrrrrr...
"The Republican establishment, for the first time, is saying, off the record, this guy can win," noted Joe Scarborough on MSNBC Monday morning. "I've heard that from everybody. I don't hear anybody saying he can't win the nomination anymore."

That doesn't mean Republicans have made their peace with a Trump victory. On the contrary-- some are preparing to do whatever it takes to bring him down. Which could lead to an extraordinary scenario in which GOP stalwarts go to war to destroy their own party's likely nominee.

Over the weekend I talked to a leading conservative who opposes Trump. I asked what would happen if January comes and Trump is still dominating the race. Would he and other conservatives make their peace with Trump's candidacy, or would there be massive resistance?

"Massive resistance," was the answer. "He's not a conservative."

Insiders have watched as Trump defied what many believed were immutable laws of the political universe. First they thought Trump wouldn't run. Then they thought voters wouldn't take a reality-TV star seriously. Then they thought gaffes would kill Trump as they had other candidates. None of that turned out as expected.

But there is one belief Trump has not yet tested, and that is the political insiders' unshakeable faith that negative ads work.

"I don't think Trump can withstand 10,000 points of smart negative in Iowa and New Hampshire," says one veteran Republican strategist who is not affiliated with any campaign. "It would force him to spend money. That's when this starts to get real for him."

..."We primed the pump with our ads in Iowa," says Club president David McIntosh. "We did some polling afterward. The ads flipped Trump from first to second place among caucus-goers and put a dent in his approval rating."

McIntosh is looking for donors to fund an anti-Trump campaign that would hit hard in the month before voting begins. It might be a Club for Growth production, or it might be a combination of efforts. "There is no other group that has decided to do it," says McIntosh. "There are a large number of donors and political activists who want to do it."

The triggers for the anti-Trump onslaught would likely be: 1) if next month arrives with Trump still in the lead, and 2) if Trump begins airing his own ads. "Once that starts, you'll see a lot of people saying we've waited long enough," notes McIntosh.

While that is going on, officials at the Republican National Committee vow to stay out of things. Asked what role the RNC might play in any movement against Trump, strategist and spokesman Sean Spicer said, "None. None. Zero. It is up to Republican voters to decide who our nominee is, not the RNC." Indeed, other sources inside the RNC say chairman Reince Priebus has stressed to staff that they must stay out of candidate fights.

The anti-Trump campaign will face several challenges. The biggest is the voters who support Trump. Conservative groups like the Club believe they can convince those voters that Trump is not a true conservative. Perhaps they can. But what if a large number of his voters are not wed to conservative orthodoxy as defined by Washington-based organizations?

The other problem is Trump himself. If he decides to spend serious money on his campaign-- and some GOP veterans still aren't convinced he will-- he can launch a serious counterpunch to any anti-Trump campaign.
What a shame to see them wasting all that money bloodying each other up, instead of using it against Bernie or Hillary. Must be really horrible being a Republican!

This line of hysteria among GOP thought-leaders continued today, as both Byron York and Josh Kraushaar wondered aloud whether the Republican Establishment attacks on Trump might backfire on the Party. York-- based on the anti-Trump stuff Club for Growth has already run-- figures they'll make the case that he's not a conservative but that that may not matter much to voters. "The problem," he wrote, "is that an ad accusing Trump of not being a conservative will appeal almost exclusively to GOP voters who are strongly conservative. But those voters are mostly already supporting other candidates. Trump's base of support lies elsewhere, and might end up largely unaffected by a he's-not-one-of-us ad campaign. The short version of the problem could be this: An attack ad says Trump is not a conservative. Trump supporters-- and other possible GOP voters, as well-- say, that's OK, we're not conservatives, either."

Kraushaar's piece in NationalJournal, The Crackup of the Republican Establishment, emphasizes that "[t]he GOP elect­or­ate’s dis­dain for polit­ic­al in­siders is real, and it is fuel­ing the de­mand for Trump, Car­son, and, to a less­er ex­tent, Fior­ina and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas."
There’s good reas­on why Trump has run on a non­tra­di­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an plat­form, one that’s skep­tic­al of mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion, hos­tile to il­leg­al im­mig­ra­tion, and opposed to free trade deals. Last week, he even at­tacked former Pres­id­ent George W. Bush for not an­ti­cip­at­ing the 9/11 attacks. Trump has been ad­voc­at­ing hik­ing taxes on wealthy cor­por­a­tions and in­di­vidu­als. His past sup­port of abor­tion rights, and ad­mis­sion that he hasn’t sought forgiveness from God, don’t en­dear him to evan­gel­ic­als. But these po­s­i­tions match the ideo­lo­gic­al pro­file of his supporters. Trump is no dummy; he’s run­ning a cam­paign geared to­wards voters that many Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates, with their em­phases on tax cuts, free trade, and im­mig­ra­tion re­form, have per­en­ni­ally ig­nored.

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At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This explains why the media is pushing Carson on us more and more. You'd think they'd know that this isn't necessarily going to work, as their failure to bury Bernie demonstrates.


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