Monday, August 17, 2015

Donald Trump: Super-Predator

Trump: 3, Other Candidates: 0
This is what Mt. Trump looks like today (from RCP):

At Least He Is A Nice, Classy Shade of Blue
There are a few things to note here:
  1. Following the first debate, Bush, Walker, and Rubio--the establishment trio (unless you also count Kaisch) declined substantially. Trump lost a tiny amount of his net.
  2. Trump's decline has come from the lower tier (Carson, Cruz) increasing. Notably, though, while Carson "won the debate" (most increase) and he is in 4th place on the RCP Poll (3rd in HuffPo) he still holds under 10% and Trump is about triple him. Carson also isn't any more likely to actually win the presidency than he was a while ago. He's still basically a vanity candidate at this point.
  3. Trump is supposed to be a vanity candidate. From UVA Professor Larry Sabato's Crystal ball:"If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong." (Emphasis in the original!)
  4. According to Mark Halperin (one of the authors behind the respected Game Change insider books): most of the campaigns think Trump has reached a turning point--and now he could legitimately win. According to the linked Brietbart article (sorry) the other campaigns are now in "full freak-out mode."
  5. To Wit: Trump just released his comprehensive immigration plan which involves building a wall, making Mexico pay for it, tripling ICE, deporting everyone, and repealing birthright citizenship ... somehow. This is a potentially massively toxic mess of revenge fantasy and wishful thinking for the base--but Scott Walker has adopted it: His plan sounds a lot like mine! Vox, perhaps snidely, notes that on immigration Trump's views on immigration are more in line with the base's than the establishment's.
  6. As the final kicker, according to the recent Fox poll, in a world without Trump it would be Carson and Cruz tied for the lead at 14% each.

A Few Key Thoughts

The Omnivore has a few key thoughts here:
  1. Larry Sabato is (a) very respected by everyone and (b) not coincidentally very smart. However, his sample size of reality TV star billionaires running for office is pretty small. Now you might say that the process doesn't change for the guy--but that's obviously not necessarily true.
  2. The fact that Carson and Cruz would be leading (and that the 3 GOPe candidates are dropping) does look familiar: it looks like 2012--but with large-scale upgrades (Cain->Carson, Santorum->Cruz). This isn't bullshit either: both Carson and Cruz are extremely unlikely to win the nomination even in a Trump-less reality while Cruz sometimes makes the "viable cut" (and sometimes not) Carson never does. Cruz, too, is like Trump in that he has gone to war with the establishment. Unlike Trump, he needs donors and can't wage a one-man assaul on the RNC's Isengard. So he seems very unlikely to get the nomination (he's also a 1st term Senator unlike the present and former governors on the list). The Omnivore thinks that while Cruz and Carson would give us a Summer of Love for the anti-establishment candidates, by the time we fall back to earth in January of 2016, it'd be back to Bush vs. Walker.
  3. Problematically, though, Walker just isn't taking off--and, more importantly, Walker's whole strategy depends on winning Iowa where the best thing he has going for him right now is that he was heckled by union guys. This is compared to Trump giving kids rides in his luxury helicopter and telling them (when asked) "I'm Batman." It doesn't seem likely to compete.
Net-Net: While it may be impossible for Trump to win the nomination playing by the normal rules he isn't playing by the normal rules and what we are looking at right now may not be the summer-fling smart people may have been painting it as.

Going Forward: The Trumpifesto

Donald Trump's immigration document, the first of several coming out apparently, is not an amateur-hour piece of political speak. It is, certainly, fairly radical (removing Birthright). It is, certainly, very very conservative (DREAMers go home). It may well be absurd (The Omnivore understands that building a massive southern wall is fantasy-land for reasons having to do with terrain (and ownership--a whole lot of Imminent domain, making it tunnel and ladder resistant, ingress to Florida by boat, and other things)--but this will not convince anyone who wants one. The language in the document is designed to hit all Trump's markers. 

In short, if he can keep doing this--putting out documents that people like Ann Coulter said were more important than the Magna Carta--then he will do two things:
  • Drive other candidates towards his position--but there's no room on the right of him (unless they pre-empt him--which probably none of them could survive doing).
  • Damage everyone in the GOP race when they are asked, relentlessly, about those positions--each right-wing concept creating a fulcrum on which to break any moderate position. When you have a guy in the race saying the unspeakable things that the voters want to hear you either pony up or get out. This could finish, for example, Marco Rubio.
The Omnivore is very impressed (so impressed The Omnivore is going to buy a TRUMP Hat--but cannot decide yet which one to get).

Closing Thoughts

Back in 2012, The Omnivore made an "Alert Level" for Ron Paul who was trying some rules-lawyering with the GOP's delegate system. It fizzled--spectacularly--and Ron didn't go 3rd party. The problem with doing this kind of alert system for Trump is that it's almost unnecessary: the alert-level for the GOP should be maximized today. Yes, Trump hasn't won a single vote--nor did he even "win" his debate (arguably, at least)--but Trump's presence aggressively devalues serious candidates and elevates less serious ones in a massively disrupting fashion. Trump's moves (bringing a helicopter to the Iowa State Fair) are difficult to predict and effective.

Trump really isn't playing the same game that Rubio, Walker, and Bush are--he's playing a different one--and one that shouldn't win--but obviously could. Even attempts being ginned up to squash him are fraught with peril as he can simply run 3rd party either because he thinks he has a shot--or out of revenge (which is totally in his character).

Trump is, for real, a dangerous nail-hard negotiator. That isn't hype. In the debate, when asked about a 3rd party run, he noted he had a lot of "leverage." Indeed he did. Republicans want a guy who fights and wins--that was supposed to be Scott Walker--but Trump is actually selling winning in a literal fashion. Trump isn't just "I won against the unions." Trump is "America--Fuck Yeah--is gonna win vs. EVERYBODY."

He's won against:

  • Macys
  • Fox news (which capitulated and made nice)
  • Bush, Rubio, and Scott Walker (the three strongest candidates)
  • The Iowa State Fair (who said he couldn't bring his personal helicopter and then relented)
  • The RNC (he got on the debate stage without pledging to support the candidate--unless it was him!)
  • The Koch Brothers (he didn't go to their confab, mocked the candidates who did, and got their voter-list from the RNC instead of from them where they'd tried to block him).
  • He "won" against Veterans (John McCain comments), women (Megan Kelly comments), BlackLivesMatter (come try and take my microphone + 'We have to give power back to the police!').
  • Various Mainstream Media talking heads (everyone goes to their show, Trump calls in)
Basically, Trump is better at everything Scott Walker does than Scott Walker (except, thus far, getting elected and running a state--but WHO CARES? At This Point, What Does It Matter?).

Trump in the 2016 election is thus far like a super-predator released into the ecosystem from another environment. The local critters don't have ways of dealing with him--their defenses don't work--he's immune to their attacks--and he can run rampant. Anyone who thinks he can't win may be in for a very, very big surprise.

No comments:

Post a Comment