24 November 2015

A few observations on politics

John Bel Edwards, who beat David Vitter in the race for Louisiana Governor last week, is not anyone's idea of a flaming liberal.  He's anti-abortion, pro-gun, and a "man of religion" according to his campaign website.  Some might even call him a DINO.  Is such a victory worth celebrating at all?

Booman Tribune makes it clear that the answer is yes.  Edwards is likely to increase education funding, expand Medicaid, and address the state's budget problems by rolling back business tax breaks rather than cutting services.  What if a more solid liberal had run as a third candidate and split the Democratic vote, or if too many Democrats had refused to vote for Edwards because he wasn't "pure" enough?  The Governor-elect would then be an anti-abortion, pro-gun man of religion who wouldn't do any of those positive things.  Results are what count.

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The Republican establishment has announced plans for an ad campaign to take down Donald Trump, spearheaded by a John Kasich super-PAC which has committed $2.5 million to the effort.  It seems to me that this initiative will only worsen the infighting within an already disastrously-divided party.  The first ad looks ineffectual and utterly clueless about why Trump is doing so well with the troglodyte base in the first place.  And the BONCs (boring old normal conservatives) are struggling against a daunting enthusiasm gap -- The Donald is the only Republican drawing the big crowds, and this has been true throughout the campaign.  Nobody's excited about Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, the hapless Jeb!, or any of the other "serious" candidates being so earnestly pushed by sober conservative pundits.  After years of being fed fear and rage in an alternate-reality fake-news bubble, the rabid base now demands nothing short of utter lunacy from its candidates, and they're flocking to the man who's serving them great steaming red-meat heaps of it.  They're not going to be chivvied back into line behind some ordinary politician.

The Republican party has lost control of the monster it created.  But that monster isn't Trump, it's the barbarian horde supporting him.  That's the point.

Still, it's never wise to underestimate one's opponent.

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A new poll, startling to some, shows that on the issue of dealing with terrorism Americans trust Hillary Clinton more than they trust any of her likely Republican opponents.  Readers may recall that, at the end of my original post explaining my support, I raised this point as crucial to why Hillary must be the Democratic candidate.  Bizarre and unfair as it is, the country favors Republicans over Democrats on national security by a huge margin -- but she personally is an exception, being rated better than the Republicans are.

Some might argue that this is less of an issue than it seems right now, because by November 2016 the Paris attack will be a year in the past and mostly forgotten.  But that attack actually shows how, at any moment, foreign affairs can suddenly erupt and dominate a campaign.  What if next October sees Dâ'ish carry out a similar attack in Manhattan?  (They might even attack with the conscious aim of encouraging the election of a Republican President, knowing that the resulting incompetent military escalation in the Middle East would radicalize millions of Muslims.)  What if it's something else -- a revolt in Saudi Arabia, some North Korean aggression against South Korea or Japan, a Russian move into the Baltic states similar to the current one in Ukraine?  Such an event could abruptly change the focus of the election at any time, without warning.  We can't risk running a candidate who inspires anything less than full public confidence on security.

2 Comments:

Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I've never in my lifetime seen anything like Trump as a serious contender for the presidential nominee of a major American political party. Even as I watch him day after day surpass himself with more neo-fascist ideas and rants, it still feels surreal to me that he's where he is in the polls and that he still draws thousands of people at his rallies. It frightens me to think that so many Americans would support something like him.

But the other day I read this by Nate Silver at his Five Thirty-Eight blog, and I felt somewhat better. I hope he's right. What do you think?

"...the Trump’s-really-got-a-chance! case is rooted almost entirely in polls. If nothing Trump has said so far has harmed his standing with Republicans, the argument goes, why should we expect him to fade later on?

One problem with this is that it’s not enough for Trump to merely avoid fading. Right now, he has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.) As the rest of the field consolidates around him, Trump will need to gain additional support to win the nomination. That might not be easy, since some Trump actions that appeal to a faction of the Republican electorate may alienate the rest of it. Trump’s favorability ratings are middling among Republicans (and awful among the broader electorate)."


24 November, 2015 17:26  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: I've seen this argument made by Republicans who are in shock at what's happening to their party. Silver has a point, but I still think Trump has a better chance than any other candidate to be the Republican nominee.

For one thing, it's not just polls. There's also enthusiasm. Tens of thousands of people are coming to Trump rallies, not to Rubio / Kasich / Bush rallies. That enthusiasm suggests a willingness to turn out for caucuses and primaries. There's also organization. Trump's organization in Iowa is said to be second to none, and if he won there (or even came in second), it would give him a tremendous boost because he's not expected to do well there (the Iowa Republican party is heavily dominated by Evangelicals, a group which has so far mostly not supported Trump). And in New Hampshire, Trump's heavily favored, being far ahead of any other candidate. After that, well, early victories create a momentum that feeds on itself.

The argument that Trump's ceiling seems to be around 35% and that he will lose as the other 65% "consolidates" depends on other candidates with significant support dropping out, so that their support all migrates to some one remaining candidate who will thus eventually accumulate more support than Trump. I think it's unlikely that that will happen fast enough. Only three of the original 17 have dropped out so far, and candidates with significant support have more incentive to stay in. "Consolidation" would require that, say, all the other "establishment" candidates besides Rubio drop out and all their support migrates to Rubio. Will that happen before Trump wins New Hampshire and possibly Iowa? Maybe, but I doubt it. Also, a huge chunk of the non-Trump support is for Carson, another completely unqualified nutjob. If Carson fades or drops out, some of his support might move to Trump -- getting him close to 50%.

As I said here, I don't believe Trump will become President. A general election is very different from a party primary. But the Republican nominee? I think the Republican establishment is right to be worried.

24 November, 2015 18:25  

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