You know what this election reminds me of right now?

That moment before the surgeon starts to cut.

For all that the pundits - and us - will waste ink and pixels on how things are going the Republican contest is so unusual that no one knows what the hell is going to happen. Usually by this time there’s a clear path for a few candidates. This time there’s merely strangeness.

With Iowa just a month plus a few days away we’re left with a sense that anything could happen. The GOP leadership appears to be reduced to hoping that Trump pulls a Dean and his supporters don’t turn out in Iowa and New Hampshire. Nothing they’ve seemed to do has turned the polls effectively. I’m convinced they believe that Trump will be a disaster in the general and downballot. The best alternative, Cruz, is the same way but to a lesser degree.

It’s a strange one. We can talk all we want - and we will, God knows - but having to wait for a completely unpredictable outcome is jarring.

And the thing is that the strangeness is guaranteed to continue as events unfold in the coming months, no matter what. Because there are either going to be huge reversals in the Republican standings or there aren’t. If there are, the extent of the reversals would be highly unusual. And if there aren’t, we’re going to continue to have … ahem! … extremely unusual candidates not just as early front runners but actually winning primaries. The thing that guarantees all this is that the standings right now are remarkable for being almost exactly in reverse order of relative sanity.

Hey, it used to be nobody knew who was going to win the nomination until the convention back in the old days. That was normal. And perhaps more healthy. It will be fun to watch.

What scares me the most this election cycle is that half the American voters have a below average IQ. This means Trump has a rather large pool to pull voters from.

That’s alright; the low IQ blacks will will overwhelmingly vote Dem, along with the low IQ blue collar union workers.

I don’t see that it’s any less predictable than, say, 2008, on either the Dem or the GOP side that year.

At this point eight years ago, Hillary and Obama were pretty close in the polls, and Edwards wasn’t that far behind. And Giuliani, McCain, and Huckabee were all showing lots of support, with Romney not too far behind.

This year, the main uncertainty is about how many of Trump’s supporters will actually show up for the caucuses and primaries. But we’ve got Trump and Cruz out front (and probably closer than they look, given Cruz’ organization, Trump’s lack of it, and the aforementioned uncertainty), and Rubio looking like he might or might not catch up, one of these days.

I don’t know who’s going to win the nomination (though if I had to bet, I’d bet on Cruz), but I didn’t know that for either party at this point eight years ago, either.

Yeah, pretty much agree except the part that’s underlined. Off by a month or two. Normally, that would be an insignificant amount of time except that it’s right before the primaries actually started. That’s when the real race begins.

As will the high IQ black voters, and the high IQ blue collar union workers, and the high IQ college professors, and many, many more.

Blacks and Blue collar workers occupy many more places in the bottom half of the IQ pool. The proportion of low IQ blacks to High IQ blacks is much greater than the population at large so that would cut into Trump’s support - Morgenstern is worrying a little too much I think.

FTR I personally don’t really like the use of IQ and “education” to measure the validity of one’s political leanings.

I agree with RTFirefly that just looking at the standings today things are no more uncertain than in 2008. And with RTFirefly’s unstated meta-point that the horse race is always unpredictable, except in hindsight where it often seems to have been inevitable.

The critical difference this time, as pointed out by the OP, is the “horse race” has a zebra and a giraffe entered as well as the usual assortment of horses (plus a jackass or two :D)).

It’s the presence of the exotic beasts that categorically change the prediction problem from unknown to unknowable. And that categorical difference is the salient feature of 2016. Which **RTFirefly **dismisses in error IMO.

National elections are always sui generis in the major democracies. This one is especially *sui * though.

OK. Sure. But thing is, you don’t have to be all that smart to be lib/left. It isn’t that complicated. What requires intelligence is the complex and interwoven set of beliefs that require intricate sets of gymnastics, to leap from a fact and perform a triple somersault with twists in midair and arrive at a conclusion that bears no resemblance to fact.

Like “trickle down” economics, and the Laffable Curve. How long, now, have rich conservatives endowed chairs at Major University to fill with reliable, sensible academic economists who are willing to tell them what they want to hear? The truth is much more simple: we have built a consumer economy, geared up to produce loud, shiny crap. (Not crazy about that, you may have already guessed…)

But the simple fact is if the people who are depended upon to buy said crap have no money, the machine no go. Change the spark plugs, clear the torsion valves, adjust the muffler bearings, but no gas, no go. So, if we can’t find a politically viable way to put money in the hands of people who don’t have any, we’re boned. Used to be, we could make loud shiny crap and sell overseas, but now they make the same crap louder, shinier, and cheaper. That they sell to us.

Even the smartest conservatives can’t seem to grasp that. Instead, they look for evidence of the truth they insist upon, that the rising gorge lifts all boats, and try to pretend they don’t know that some folks have boats that will not float. A lot of them. Far, far too many.

And don’t forget: intelligence is merely a characteristic, not a virtue. Tolerance, patience, generosity, those are virtues. A smart good man is a blessing to us all, a smart bad man is a curse and a plague.

Agreed, and that’s the point. To take the example of Obama and Hillary being close in '08, that was true but the fact was that either of them or Edwards would have made a perfectly reasonable president. Today I think there is a sense of disquiet and even foreboding about the Republican slate. The former is like being on a car trip and knowing that while in theory “anything could happen”, realistically the worse is that you might be late. The current situation is like knowing that there’s a genuinely high probability that the wheels might fall off, or perhaps more aptly, that anything could happen because your driver might be a crazy person.

This may be a bit of a digression, but I think it is relevant.

To much of the country, Democrats are an aristocratic class; and they are pushing aristocratic ideals that are destroying the ideals the country was founded upon. None of this has anything to do with intelligence, and much to do with one’s opportunities in life.

This concept, of how many people view the democratic party is very difficult for people to understand. Being raised in a rather far left household, it took perhaps 14-16 years working in blue collar jobs to have an understanding of these dynamics.

The perspective of many blue collar workers and what has meaning to them is very different from the perspective of other groups. For one, blue collar workers value plain spokenness far more than college educated people in general. I don’t believe this is a value born out of ignorance, but instead a value born out of inclusiveness. They value the idea of making an attempt to include others despite gaps in knowledge or understanding and not feelings of ignorance, jealousy or inferiority.

For them, in communication, this means they value the attempt to meet someone on their level. Furthermore, they see that education is used more as a blunt weapon used to knock the less fortunate down than one that irrefutably ennobles mankind. they also see education as something far more accessiblle to those born into the right circumstances (this is pretty much accepted as fact by most no matter what party affiliation). Many people who are not familiar with this do not understand this mentality. What the left considers inclusive oftentimes is really only inclusive for those of a certain ability level. The left champions and promotes education as the way to succeed and adopts legislation to further education opportunities for disadvantaged groups. What they do not address with any fervor is the group of people who are neither a minority or who would be likely to benefit from more education - which is a large portion of the US.

So, what would benefit this portion of people who are not minorities, do not want government handouts and who would not be likely to benefit from more education? Well it seems to me that many of these issues are the things Trump is talking about. His plans are not well thought out, his ideas lack rigor, his delivery is offensive - yet, he brings the issues up and will not back down.

Compared to silence, lack of attention, or policy discussions that descend into one group calling another racist or stupid and usually both; anyone bringing these issues front and center and refusing to just back down because of being called a racist is going to be a relief.

So I don’t think positive views on Trump have so much to do with racism, ignorance or low IQ; I think they have to do more with the same reasons that every other group chooses one candidate over another - namely self interest in issues that will improve their circumstances in life.

"Well, Ma, think I’m gonna be voting for Trump. Kinda man I can relate to, we both put on our pants one leg at a time. 'Course, his pants cost more than I make in a year, but still, he has common sense. And that’s the best way to go about things, that’s just plain common sense! He wants to do what’s right for us working folks, by running off those Mexicans and killing those Muslims.

And I’ll be there, Ma! Every time an American bomb drops on a bewildered orphan, I’ll be there…"

Tom Joad’s soliloquy, updated…

Well, or they at least think their interests will be served and circumstances improved.

The difference between this years Republican race and both races in 2008 is that it seems like the voting public is genuinely divided into more than two groups. In 2008 it wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to believe that a Clinton primary supporter would happily vote for Obama in the general election. I personally voted for Clinton in the primary and Obama in the general, and was happy to cast both votes. Similarly, it’s not difficult to imagine that someone who supported Romney in the 2008 Republican primary would happily have voted for McCain in the general. This year it’s a lot harder to believe that most of the Cruz supporters would vote for Jeb in a general election, or that a Kasich supporter would happily vote for Trump in the general election.

As a liberal, I think the public is currently split into three main groups. First are the Democrats, second the mainstream GOP, and third are the Trump and Cruz contingents. I admit to not being knowledgeable about the conservative mindset, and that the GOP might turn out to be one happy family come the general election. Or the split might be worse than I thought, with the Trump and Cruz groups being two genuinely separate groups, not just one group with a disagreement over who should be their standard bearer, which is what it looks like to me as an outsider. As far as the Democratic side of the race is concerned, I know supporters of both Clinton and Sanders, and they all seem like they would happily vote for the other candidate in a general election. That’s why I lumped all the Democrats in as one group.

That’s not exactly the point I’m trying to make. If you view things on a continuum, someone expressing their views and not being silenced by name calling would be a step in the right direction compared to silence and nose in the air dismissal.

Excellent example of the simplistic, somewhat aristocratic type of liberal rhetoric steeped in stereotypes and mild condescension I was speaking about earlier.

Well played, well played indeed.

I must protest. That was not mild condescension!

You’ve tried to explain why Trump appeals to some of the blue-collar sector. The problem is that Trump doesn’t actually have very many views to express, and none that actually make any sense. He wants to round up and deport every last Mexican, he wants to kill all the Muslims and their families, he has a tax plan that says the lower middle classes won’t pay any taxes, corporate taxes will be way lower, and it’s all going to be paid for by eliminating loopholes on the super-rich (not a bad idea, but not a recipe for revenue-neutrality), and he’s got some airy-fairy plan to yell at China and magically bring back all the manufacturing jobs (which isn’t exactly the kind of exciting and rewarding growth sector to which anyone seriously aspires anyway). Oh, and he promised to replace Obamacare with “something great”.

There’s nothing there that is “a step in the right direction” or a step at all. It’s pure self-serving demagoguery. It’s no wonder that the stereotypical Trump supporter is represented by those news stories of the Trump loyalists who beat up Mexicans and Muslims.