It’s time to Break It Down!
As a casual observer of the American body politic, and a fascinated on-looker of what on it’s face appears to be one of the most rambunctious political seasons in recent memory, I am increasingly amazed that my initial characterization of the so-called Trump phenomenon continues to resonate as on point. In mid-June when Trump announced his Presidential Campaign and immediately began denigrating Mexicans, he was rewarded by quickly rocketing to the top of the charts so to speak, as far as GOP poll numbers are concerned. It was about that time I predicted that this guy might just shock the world and go on to capture the GOP Nomination.
That was then, and it was early. Most of my friends discounted my assessment as just my normal tendency to expect the worst of evils to prevail in political contests (because too many folks cede to apathy and opt out of voting). If my friends provided a counterbalance with a personal touch, based on their own insights about me, the professional pundit class offered the objective and expert opinion that Mr. Trump’s soaring arc of popularity was just a fleeting matter that would soon come to an end.
That is what they said after he deemed Mexicans raping marauders. They were wrong. That is what they said when he said Senator John McCain was not a war hero. They were wrong. That is what they said when he broadcast Senator Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number on live TV. They were wrong. That is what they said when he, without documentation or authentication, claimed he saw thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey after 9/11. They were wrong. That is what they said when he had a Hispanic journalist removed from one of his rallies. They were wrong. That is what they said when he placed second in the Iowa Caucuses after having led in the polls right up to the day of the Caucuses. They were wrong.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. After failing to win the Iowa Caucuses, where he finished second, Donald Trump has rebounded by winning the next three states, including two Primaries, and one set of Caucuses. There are many ways to frame this, and the candidates undoubtedly do that more creatively than I ever could.
In Iowa, Marco Rubio, who finished third, responded with a series of news conferences and media spots that led Ted Cruz to point out the misplaced self-promotion and ensuing media adulation bestowed upon the third place finisher, while, in his view, ignoring the winner (himself). But this GOP-i-fied new math was not only a factor in Iowa. Last night Ted Cruz finished third in Nevada and all but declared victory. He boasted that his campaign is the only campaign to beat Donald Trump in the first four contests, and he further asserted that his campaign is the only campaign than can beat Donald Trump. that is true, but, so what? On this particular night, he did not beat Donald Trump. In fact, he is now on a three contest losing streak, finishing third in each case, twice behind Rubio, and once behind Kasich. I suppose turnabout really is fair play. LOL!
An interesting thing has happened as the GOP contest unfolds. All those folks who have been so consistently wrong about the projection of a soon to be faltering Donald Trump includes the Party Establishment. I’m not a Republican, and while I may not be the most astute of political observers…I am still a political observer.
What have I observed? Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” I have seen Republicans hope against hope that Trump’s star would fade. Time marches on; now there are those whom, no longer content to merely hope, are poised to take matters into their own hands and try to alter the operational dynamics of the Party’s multiple campaigns. For weeks now, there have been rumblings that the field must narrow in order to promote a redistribution of voters to candidates other than DJ Trump. A large swath of conventional wisdom has held for some time, that if candidates drop out, their votes will go to one of the establishment candidates, e.g., Bush, Cruz, Kasich, or Rubio.
The problem with conventional wisdom frequently is, very often it proves not to be particularly wise. Take this conversation for example. In the last couple of weeks, several GOP candidates have dropped out of the race, including Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush. Conventional wisdom, at least as practiced by all those folks who urged those candidates to get out so the remaining candidates could contain Trump, got an unceremonious comeuppance last night. The GOP field, which stands at just more than a third of its original number, was greeted by some stunning metrics last night.
Absent roughly 10 candidates, Trump’s numbers didn’t weaken; they strengthened. The punditry has loudly and frequently repeated the trope that Trump was only able to garner 25% to 30% of the vote. They insisted that when the field narrowed, the traditional candidates would emerge stronger and Trump would subsequently fade.
Earlier this week, Trump scoffed at that notion and declared that he would get his share of those voters. Score one for the Donald. Nevada may or may not be like anywhere else, but it’s fair to say, they showed Donald Trump the love. In the Nevada Caucuses, he earned roughly 45% of the vote. So much for 25% to 30%. In fact, he didn’t just outperform the artificial ceiling placed upon him by the pundit class, he smashed the measuring stick. His numbers, well over 40%, approached those of Rubio and Cruz combined, both of whom finished in the 20’s.
Let me be clear, the race for the GOP Presidential Nomination is by no means over. While I’m giving them a fair amount of grief, the pundits and experts still have an opportunity to be right. But make no mistake about it, the clock is running and Trump continues to defy the odds. The next plank in the conventional wisdom theories holds that for Trump to be slowed or stopped, either Cruz or Rubio must exit the race. Key races are approaching. There is reason to believe Cruz could, if not should, win Texas, where he is a sitting Senator. Likewise, Rubio has a shot in Florida, where he serves as a Senator. Super Tuesday is around the corner, just six days away. The GOP Establishment appears to be leaning toward Rubio, instead of the often irascible, even to his own Party, Cruz.
I write all that to say, the fun is just getting started. However, if the GOP Establishment doesn’t get a handle on it’s Trump “problem,” which admittedly, his supporters view in a quite different light, they will have to come to grips with an undeniably victorious Donald Trump, whose best quote from last night’s speech was, as he noted the demographics he won, said, “We won with the poorly educated; I love the poorly educated.”
I bet he does! But I’m going to leave that right there, because as easy as it may be to take off on that, he won lots of demographics, including the well educated, but perhaps most notably, the Latino population. I’m just gonna leave that there for you to cogitate upon. But it did not end there either. Trump won every major demographic except for voters under 30…which accounted for less than 8% of the turnout.
That’s about it. Four contests are in the books. “Act IV, Scene I: Nevadans Bet Big on Trump!”
I’m done; holla back!
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