Triumph of the Trump
remains solid across all polls.
Brian Beutler explains why the situation is so unlike 2012, when various wackos surged in the polls but ultimately collapsed, leaving the safe, establishment-backed Romney to win the nomination. This time the WARTs have coalesced behind one candidate while the "moderates" are divided among many. Thanks to Citizens United, weak candidates can stay in the race with the backing of just one or two rich individuals, so the field will not be winnowed quickly and the non-Trump vote will remain divided. Trump's support seems immune to the kind of problems that sank fringe candidates in 2012 -- he's already survived gaffes that would have destroyed an ordinary politician, and he certainly won't run out of money.
Anti-Trumpers are left clutching at straws like Trump's Hugh Hewitt interview, where he stumbled badly on foreign-policy knowledge, but there's no sign that it will make a dent with his followers. How many of them know or care who Qasem Soleimani is? They're already tired of "elitist" assertions that actual knowledge is somehow superior to incoherent fury. They want a leader who can express and embody their tedious rage, and Trump fits the bill.
None of the other candidates can match Trump's charisma, iconoclasm, or chutzpah. He makes them all look small and dull -- fatal to a contender for the Presidency.
Yes, Trump has signed the pledge not to run as a third candidate if he loses the nomination. Supposedly this means he's given up his leverage, and the party leadership can now attack him by fair means or foul, even changing the rules if needed, to deny him the nomination without fear that he'll go rogue and torpedo their nominee. But he hasn't really given up much. How confident can they be that he'll keep his word? The fear of an independent Trump run is still there. By making an empty show of loyalty, he's actually strengthened his position by appearing reasonable. The party will keep treating him with kid gloves while he feels no obligation to reciprocate.
It's not a done deal -- nothing is, at this point -- but we have to be prepared for the possibility that The Donald will actually be the Republican nominee facing Hillary (or Bernie or Joe). That would turn this election into an incredibly high-stakes game. As a know-nothing vulgar populist who has risen to prominence by openly (not in code, as Republicans normally do) whipping up the xenophobia and nativism of the most ignorant and angry element of the population, Trump is an alarmingly Mussolini-like figure, confronting American democracy with a test like that which was faced (and mostly flubbed) by European democracy in the twenties and thirties. While our institutions are far more robust, the vast military power of our country would make such a leader a horrific danger to the world, even if he stayed within Constitutional limits. And there are simply too many unknowns about Trump. We can't roll the dice with the most powerful office on Earth.
Thought 2012 was a nail-biter? Just wait.
[*Term found here. I don't know who originated it.]