We’re so close. The Donald almost has this thing sewed up. But not quite: the prediction markets still give Rubio about a 1 in 5 shot at the nom. And we definitely don’t want that. He’s probably beatable, but he’s far more dangerous than Trump, and puts the GOP in a much better position for downticket races. So I’m beseeching my fellow Democrats: join me in doing a little “Operation Chaos” of our own, by crossing over and voting for Trump in the primary when it comes to your state.
Many Democrats (including my own RL friends) are uneasy with this plan–I’d almost say paranoid. They feel it’s a case of “careful what you wish for”. They see Trump defying all expectations in the GOP race, and fear he would do the same in a general election. But sometimes things are just what they appear to be. Take Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), for instance. McCaskill knew that of her primary opponents, Todd Akin was the easiest to beat. So she spent nearly $2 million ginning up hardcore conservatives to support him (and then after the campaign was over, she was surprisingly forthright about it). And it worked like a charm: in the very same election that gave Missouri to Romney by ten points (54-44), Akin only managed 39% of the vote. Make no mistake: Claire McCaskill was in big trouble before she manipulated the GOP primary electorate. One of those other candidates would almost certainly have beaten her. But she picked her opponent and won in a cakewalk. As Claire said, “This was the most fun I’d had in a long time.” And it does sound like fun! We now have a chance to have our own fun with Donald Trump.
McCaskill, BTW, made a point in that article that applies here as well:
This is exactly the right calculus, and the one we should keep in mind in our present circumstances. Trump is more obviously repulsive and grotesque than Rubio. But the policy implications of him as president are, indeed, “not a dime’s worth of difference”–and on some issues, as Cruz and Rubio have been ineffectually trying to point out, Trump is to their left. So our main concern here needs to be electability.
I’ve linked to this graph before. To be very clear, because there was some confusion last time, this shows the approval ratings of not only candidates who won the presidency (in green), but also candidates who won their party’s nomination fight, but then lost the general election (in salmon). There is some definite overlap, but overall the green-colored dots are higher than the salmon-colored dots, as one would expect. And then it also shows Trump’s approval ratings, in black-colored dots. Most of Trump’s dots are off in their own basement-dwelling universe at the bottom of the graph. A few of them barely brush against the lowest salmon-colored dots of some of the candidates who lost in the general election. None of them are within sniffing distance of any of the green-colored dots of people who actually became president.
And Trump appears to be in an even more difficult position than Akin, who at least had a solid base among the religious right and more “broadly”, among hardcore conservatives in general. It’s true that exit polls have shown Trump winning a plurality of evangelical voters so far. But the *leaders *of the religious right are absolutely, diametrically opposed to him, and so, presumably are the millions of their followers who take their religious conservatism seriously. So far these leaders have backed Cruz, but if Ted starts to look less than viable, they may flip to Rubio. They are not going to get behind Trump under any circumstances, and while it’s unlikely they’ll ever back Hillary, look for many of these churchy folks to just stay home if Trump is the nominee.
Erick Erickson is one:
Erickson, for those not familiar, is more than just a “radio host”. He frequently appears on FOX News, and his blog RedState is one of the top conservative sites out there, roughly the Daily Kos of the right. I have been monitoring the site for years to keep tabs on the other side’s fulminations, and I’m actually surprised by this declaration. Erickson has long shown, shall we say, a lack of fondness for Trump, but in the past he has always been firm about the importance of supporting any GOP nominee, no matter how disappointing. To advocate otherwise on RedState was a banning offense. But now he’s drawn that line in the sand: #nevertrump
But as much as these “values” conservatives oppose Trump, there’s another group of conservatives who dislike him even more strongly:
But at least someone like Charles Murray has got to like Trump, right? Murray is infamous for writing The Bell Curve, about racial disparities in IQ; and his latest book is all about the struggles of the white working class. So he’s a perfect fit for Trumpism. But no, says Murray:
I’m not sure exactly who Rick Wilson is, but I think the article implies that he’s a libertarian? Anyway, I include his commentary because he’s got a way with words, and made me laugh:
I liked the historical callback in this one:
Then there’s the most obvious group: moderate/centrist Republicans, particularly women. I’ve described before how I know white suburban married Boomer women who likely vote Republican more often than not (and are married to staunchly Republican husbands) who would almost certainly vote for Hillary over Trump. And the more reluctant among them will be primed to make the switch by the endorsements and actions of their moderate peers in prominent political positions, like former New Jersey governor and Bush cabinet member Christine Todd Whitman:
(It occurs to me that as critical as I’ve been of Bernheads, they may have performed Hillary a real service in doing an Overtonesque thing we don’t normally talk about: making Hillary look palatable to people on the right or center-right who previously would have dismissed her as far too liberal. When all these young socialists are denouncing her as a “neocon” or “center-right”–or worse–that may make some of these “Main Street Republicans” take another look at Hillary and think she must not be so bad after all.)
So you take the group of voters who were unable to get McCain or Romney anywhere near enough electoral votes to beat Obama. Then you subtract a good chunk of “values voters”, foreign policy hawks, libertarians, and moderate Republicans. Even if only some of those vote for Hillary and most just stay home, how can what’s left do anything but get totally wiped out?
There are those who argue that Trump has an appeal to Democratic voters that McCain and Romney did not. But I don’t see it. Can someone please describe to me their archetypical vision of a person who voted for Obama in 2008, then voted for him again in 2012 even in the face of all the Tea Party hatred that had been ginned up against him…but now is going to vote for Trump in 2016? I just can’t picture such a person.
Maybe Trump can get some people to vote who normally don’t vote at all. But I have a huge amount of difficulty imagining that these people will be enough, in enough swing states, to tip the election to Trump. The maps I’ve seen show that his “base” is strongest in states that are either decisively blue or decisively red. New voters from states like those will change the national popular vote, but won’t do anything to the electoral vote. To win, he needs a swarm of new voters in swing states, a swarm big enough to balance out all the defections described above. Highly, highly implausible.
Rich Lowry warns that Democrats are keeping their powder dry, but ready, for when Trump has it wrapped up. Then they will set about making Trump’s already sky-high unfavorables even higher:
And of course, what I’m licking my chops over, as you should be, is not just that Trump as nominee make it easier for Hillary to win this fall, but that it will be the gift that keeps on giving:
Oh yes. That is some political catnip, baby. Never forget that once Trump is actually the nominee, the GOP can not claim he “doesn’t represent” the party. He literally will!
And I have so far talked mainly of the political windfall even if it’s just the two parties. As noted above, Kristol wants to run a hawkish neocon ticket. Another effort, which may or may not be related, is described in Politico:
Meanwhile, it appears Mike Bloomberg won’t cause us similar trouble on the center-left as long as Hillary is the Democratic nominee.
So all in all, this is just an incredibly juicy opportunity we’re not likely to get very often. Let’s grab that brass ring, people!