Sunday, December 20, 2015

Republican Party Insiders And Elites Still Hopeful That Magic Thinking Will Save Them From Herr Trumpf


The newest polling from Fox showed Herr Trumpf not just on the top of the shitpile, but up there with gigantic momentum. Since mid-November his 28% support from national GOP primary voters has grown to 39%. After Trumpf comes Cruz at 18% (up 4 points), Rubio at 11% (down 3), Dr. Ben at 9% (down 9 points) and then a bunch of also-rans bunched up at 3%: the Jebster (down 2), Christie (flat), Fiorina (flat), Rand Paul (flat)... that's some Deep Bench! Not even Herr Trumpf's meteoric rise surprises me more than the steady-as-a-rock contempt with which Republican voters hold neocon warmonger Lindsey Graham-- the only Republican candidate to the right of Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio on foreign affairs. Graham, a U.S. Senator who has been a high-profile member of Congress since 1994. still has the same ZERO percent support from GOP primary voters the Fox poll showed him with in November, October, September, August and July, down from 1% in mid-June. Graham's Senate colleagues may be scratching their heads and wondering how someone-- and someone with maximum television exposure for so many years-- could be looked at with such disdain, especially in a field as shallow and bizarre as what the RNC used to call its Deep Bench. Haven't heard that lately, have you?

The Republican senators are terrified that there is no stopping Trumpf now and that he will be their party's nominee. The ugly irony is that they're not terrified for the country-- that someone as patently unqualified as Trumpf could wind up in the White House considering that the Democratic establishment is determined to nominate the most dislikable and flawed candidate in history-- but that Trumpf as the nominee could hurt their own political standings. Some want to distance themselves from him politically and others (Ohio's wishy-washy Rob Portman is a good example), afraid of his mob of low-info voters and afraid to antagonize them, are pledging to support him if he's-- ugghhh-- the party nominee. Friday, Ben Oreskes, writing for Politico reported a psychological analysis of Herr Trumpf that is commonplace among the DC elite in terms of his bromance with Putin.
There's no secret about why Trump has psychologically tethered himself to Putin, whose bombast rivals that of the U.S. billionaire businessman and whose own strongman reputation reinforces Trump's. But as the United States and its allies try to beat back Russia's intrusions into Ukraine and Syria, Trump has ruffled countless feathers by cozying up to the Russian leader.

Romney's former aides embody the GOP backlash, and on Friday morning, as Trump offered his latest flattery for Putin, they seethed.

“Donald Trump is like that stray dog anybody can pet and it will follow you home,” former top Romney adviser Stuart Stevens told Politico. “Putin praises him so he loves Putin. It's embarrassing and sad. He's a seriously damaged individual who is deeply insecure and needs attention and praise and the source doesn't matter.”

Another former Romney adviser, who did not want to be named, said emails were flying around Friday morning among ex-staffers and friends after Trump on MSNBC heaped praise on Putin and hesitated to condemn the Russian leader for allegations the Kremlin has killed high-profile journalists critical of Putin, saying "our country does plenty of killing also."

That adviser said it was “shocking, appalling and disgusting” for him to equate Russia’s killing of journalists with anything that America does. “What he said about America killing people,” this person said, “that crosses the line.”
For Republican elites, Herr Trumpf has crossed a lot of lines. Each time he does, his standing in the polls rises. These elites tell themselves and anyone who will listen that "You just sort of shake your head. At some point the voters are going to recognize that this isn’t a serious campaign. We hope that recognition will come sooner rather than later." It won't.

The other big hope among GOP elites is that Herr Trumpf's supporters are too dumb to figure out how to register or how to vote. Saturday, Trip Gabriel wrote a hopeful piece in the NYTimes that Trumpf's Iowa campaign isn't mobilizing Iowa Caucus voters and that that will be the end of the road for him. They wish! Keep in mind that in the latest poll of Iowa Republicans, PPP found Herr Trump with at numero uno with 28%, up 6 points and, they report, "with voters whose biggest concern is being able to beat a Democrat in the general election, Trump wins out with 31% to 20% each for Cruz and Rubio." [51% of Iowa Republicans report that beating the Democrat is their #1 motivation and only 41% say their top motivation is finding the most right-wing candidate.] And the establishment candidates the GOP elites are banking on aren;t going anywhere at all... except down the toilet. "Bush has the highest negatives of any of the candidates with 47% seeing him unfavorably to only 35% who have a positive view... John Kasich’s just really not making an impact. A plurality of GOP voters-- 41%-- don’t even have an opinion about him one way or the other. Among voters who do have one it’s quite negative with only 22% seeing him favorably to 37% with a negative view." As for the other choice of the elites, Rubio, the best that can be said about his campaign in that "[h]e’s not getting much momentum but he’s at least not falling apart either." The Times report holds out this slim hope for Republican elites though: "Translating a personality-driven campaign to the voting booth is no easy feat, especially for a candidate who has never run before... Trump has put off the nuts and bolts of organizing. A loss in Iowa for Mr. Trump, where he has devoted the most resources of his campaign, could imperil his leads in the next two nominating states, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where his get-out-the-vote organizations are even less robust. A successful ground game is crucial in Iowa because of the state’s complicated method of caucus voting, but the Trump campaign has fallen behind some of its own benchmarks... Trump 'so far is not running a traditional campaign reliant on the fundamentals,' said Jeff Patch, a Republican strategist in Iowa unaffiliated with a candidate. 'A campaign depending on turning out low-propensity G.O.P. voters and bringing new voters into the process should be registering people in December and January.'"
The demographics of Trump supporters reveal his challenges: They are younger, lack a college degree and are less likely to be evangelical Christians, according to polling. The profile of past caucusgoers is the opposite: most are 45 and up, college educated and evangelical.

What the Trump campaign has going for it is the enthusiasm the candidate inspires at his rallies, which are the largest of any Republican.

“I take Trump’s caucus prospects very seriously,” said an operative supporting another candidate, speaking on the condition of anonymity to candidly assess a rival. “It’s true that new candidates think they can change history. It’s true that they never do. It’s true we’ve never had a new candidate like Trump.”

...The volunteer leaders, known as precinct captains, learned that they would be responsible for bringing 25 or more people from their neighborhoods to the caucuses. They were shown how to download an app, Ground Game 2, with a “walk list” of registered Republicans in their precincts.

It was clear from the training that the Trump campaign was only beginning to identify supporters, and that its volunteers could face unique challenges in going door to door.

“Just listen to them,” a Trump staff member advised volunteers on how to elicit and record issues on voters’ minds. “If they’re concerned about the border,” he said, mark down immigration. “If they’re worried about space aliens stealing the fillings out of their teeth, it’s ‘other.’ ”

Tana Goertz, a peppy former contestant on The Apprentice, Mr. Trump’s reality television program, enticingly held out the prospect of rewards for the best performers, like a game show.

“At the end of the caucus night, Mr. Trump is going to know who won their precincts, and he’s going to know you were the precinct leaders,” she said. “I know he does nice things. You will be recognized.”
Limbaugh says Trump's going to win because GOP voters are so angry about Ryan's compromise with the Democrats on the Omnibus and the Breitbart fringe is screaming about how Ryan's plan funds illegal immigrant/terrorist resettlement in the U.S.

Writing for Salon yesterday, Amanda Marcotte agreed with Limbaugh on one point: "Trump’s popularity is not due to the man having a unique charisma or some kind of major leadership skills. He’s just a cipher for this inchoate right wing rage. It’s hard to express the magnitude of rage that conservatives feel right now, after 7 years of the Obama presidency. In their minds, this country belongs to them and any Democratic leadership is therefore, by definition, illegitimate. (Obama’s race isn’t helping things, but it’s important to remember they felt this way about Bill Clinton, too, which led to impeaching him under some flimsy pretense.) They keep sending more Republicans-- and more and more conservative Republicans-- to Congress with the sole mission to destroy Obama and restore the 'natural' order of things, where conservatives, predominantly white male conservatives, rule and everyone else is, at best, given token representation. Republicans don’t actually have the power to do this, but that hardly matters to the conservative base. When you believe in your heart of hearts that the natural order is people like you on top and everyone else under the boot, it feels like it should be relatively easy to get things back to the way you think they should be. So if it’s not getting done, it must be because of a lack of will. And if you have any doubts that it’s lack of will, here’s Rush Limbaugh, who seems like a smart guy who follows D.C. politics closely, telling you that’s exactly what it is. So they believe him. In a sense, Trump didn’t have to do much to exploit this situation. His chest-puffing claims that all he needs to do to get his way is to say what he wants very loudly may make liberals laugh, but it fits right into the fantasy that Limbaugh and his fellow right-wing pundits are spinning out for the conservative base, who is ready to believe it. Trump’s main talent is saying whatever his audience wants to hear, which he did, by telling Breitbart News that 'elected Republicans in Congress threw in the towel.' He probably didn’t even need to know the specifics of what he was talking about, so long as he could imply that all you need is heavier balls and getting your way is a breeze."

Meanwhile, though, not even Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (KKK-AL) is willing to endorse Herr Trumpf. Not a single senator has. In fact the closest thing Herr Trumpf has to a congressional endorsement is from xenophobic maniac and ex-Congressman Virgil Goode. A few neo-fascist state legislators in backward districts in Georgia, South Carolina, Iowa, Oklahoma, Alabama and New Hampshire have backed him but these are generally considered insane people, not serious political leaders.)

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