DonaldTrumpDonaldTrumpDonaldTrump

A friend of mine not from the United States said to me the other day, and this is pretty much a direct quote, “Seriously, dude, your country is scaring the shit out of the rest of us with this Donald Trump thing.” To assure him and others, a few points, covered by others to be sure but worth repeating.

1. The election is 15 months away. Relax, lots will happen between now and then.

2. And what’s going to happen is that the GOP primary voters will eventually settle down and vote for Jeb Bush (or maaaaaybe Scott Walker), who will go on to be defeated by Hillary Clinton in the general election. While it’s a quantum physics universe and anything can happen, realistically, this is how it’s going to go down.

3. But in the meantime, why shouldn’t potential GOP voters have their fun with Trump? Rich assholes are amusing, for a while. This is like that time in high school when you ditched your regular friends for a couple of weeks to hang out with that kid whose parents bought him a Camaro and let him take the speedboat out on the lake by himself and have keg parties at his house when they weren’t around. Eventually you figured out that no one at his parties was actually his friend, they were just there for the beer, and the reason he took you out on the speedboat was because he had no one else to hang out with, because he confused having a lot of money with having a bearable personality. And eventually you went back to your old friends and that was that. Which is to say: Jeb Bush, ’16.

4. But what if I’m wrong? What if Trump waltzes away with the GOP nomination? Well, first, that would be hilarious, and second, then he gets squashed by Hillary in the general, by a much wider margin than she would have against Bush or Walker, in part because then 2016 would see the largest Hispanic voter registration drive ever, and having Donald “racist against Hispanics” Trump as the GOP banner carrier would basically set back Republican attempts to court Hispanics by probably thirty or forty years. It would be entirely deserved too, so there’s that. He’d also have at least some mainstream GOP folks holding their noses and voting for Hillary, I expect.

5. All of which is to say that no one, not even potential GOP voters, expect Trump to get the nod, even as they poll him highly and want him to stay in the race. He’ll make trouble, and he’s making the GOP really uncomfortable by gleefully exposing the fact that so many members of their potential voter base lap up dumbed-down racist populism. But with the latter, Trump didn’t create the demand for dumbed-down racist populism, he’s just exploiting it, and with the former, well, again, this is the time in the election schedule where trouble looks kind of fun. But at the end of the day, most GOP voters will line up behind the person they think has the best chance of actually getting into the White House. That ain’t Trump.

6. Last point? What the GOP really hates about Trump is that if they somehow manage to push him out of the GOP voting pool, they know that means Trump isn’t defeated, he’s just pissed off. It’s entirely possible that his response to being punted will be to run as an independent. If he does, there’s a good chance he’ll peel off four or five percent of the presidential vote: Not enough to win, but more than enough to doom the GOP flag bearer, since it’ll be the GOP from which he’s taking votes. This won’t matter much in my estimation because I don’t expect whoever the GOP runs this election to win, but I wouldn’t expect the GOP to be as sanguine about it.

Basically, the GOP is screwed either way, when it comes to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump will never, ever be president. I could be wrong about this. But I really really don’t think I am.

188 thoughts on “DonaldTrumpDonaldTrumpDonaldTrump

  1. For the avoidance of doubt, the primary topic of conversation for this thread should be Donald Trump, his campaign, and the chances of him becoming president. Please don’t use this thread as a general dumping ground for your most recent political thoughts, and/or perceive it as an opportunity to set down your soapbox and read off cue cards regarding how much you hate [insert politician who is not Donald Trump]. I thank you in advance for your willingness to stay on topic.

  2. If you put John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in a pan with just enough ammonia to cover, and cook over a low heat until the ammonia is all evaporated, you can then scrape Donald Trump off the bottom of the pan.

  3. I just keep pointing people at the “15 months away” part. I’ve seen a lot of candidates, viable, and, well, nuts, not make it much beyond this point. This is the second time my kids will vote, and the first time that one candidate is not a sitting president so I expect serious conversations in the next year, none of them about Trump!

  4. Not that I’m recommending it as a career path, but it does strike me that a job in Trump Campaign HQ might be more sheer crazy trainwreck fun than a similar job in pretty much anybody’s campaign in history. No icon too revered to be trashed, no idea too loonytoon not be be tried, no flag too ragged not to be run up a rickety flagpole. If you just wanted to stir the pot by suggesting wackadoodle campaign ideas, you might have a great time. (Unless you actually got Trump elected, in which case you’d hate yourself for at least a week.)

  5. If the moderators and other candidates do their job, Trump’s appeal will nosedive once the debates start for two reasons. First, he’s going to act as if he’s the moderator, he’s the one who gets to say “you’re fired” and if the moderator and other candidates don’t let him get away with that, he’ll look bad.

    Second (and this is the only thing he has in common with Bernie Sanders), if he gets pressed on the question of “How will you accomplish these things”, his lack of an answer will look bad.

  6. Your point (5) says that most Republican voters will line up behind whoever has the best chance of actually getting into the White House. Which according to your point (2) is Hillary Clinton. I regard this as unlikely.

  7. This pretty much matches my thinking on the subject. He’s going to make campaign season… interesting… but mostly by making John Stewart’s protégés not even have to work for it.

  8. Dr. Plotka:

    Whoever has the best chance among the GOP. Note also that while I expect Ms. Clinton to be our next President, I do think Jeb Bush, if he is the GOP candidate, will not be a pushover.

  9. The absolutely best thing about Trump running is the sudden scramble amongst Republicans to explain why not *every* rich person is automatically smarter and worthy of attention due to their wealth. Even when criticising Warren Buffet they call him sinister rather than dumb.

    The second best thing is the attempt to navigate between the Scylla of ‘speaking your mind regardless of what the liberal media and PC police would stop you from saying’ and the Charybdis of ‘showing respect for things that are beyond criticism.’ I honestly don’t believe I would have seen Democrats laying into Walker’s economic record in the same way.

    The third best thing are the attempts to Trump up a little publicity of their own with stunts and rudeness, not realising that the normal rules still apply to them.

  10. I find it interesting that ThinkProgress actually pointed out that other than the weird racist thing, thus far Donald Trunp is actually the most Progressive of all the GOP primary candidates. Cynicism says that GOP Shadow Council wants to laugh at Donald Trump’s Progressive notions along with his regressive ones (that actually align with the GOP base, oddly enough). Eternal Hope has me wondering if maybe Donald Trump is polling so high mayhaps as an indicator to the rest of the field to maybe, just maybe, be a little more Progressive this cycle.

  11. I don’t believeTrump has a chance in hell of becoming President, but I think I might have to vote for him if he’s a candidate. Just because I’m curious to see what would happen. I know it’d be bad, but I figure the two most likely outcomes are 1) He gets us all killed, in which case oh well I picked wrong, or 2) He leaves everyone in the US with four (or eight!) years worth of “I shit you not, this really happened…!” stories that we will have all experienced together but still don’t mind hearing again and again. I mean, I can’t be the only one who wants to see what happens when he tries to get Mexico to pay for a fence along the border, right? And that’s one of his more reasonable ideas. I can’t wait to see him take on the Middle East!

    Trump ’16. He’s a uniter, not a divider. For real this time.

  12. I’m assuming that you mean “Not enough to win”, in stead of “Note enough to win”? Also – thanks for the reassurance. America can be quite scary sometimes, for us watching it from the outside.

  13. John, you’re still scaring the shit out of us Canucks, who have to live next door to you. Bush III: Revenge of the Sith? *shudders*

    For historical interest, there used to be a Canadian alternative party called the Rhinoceros Party:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhinoceros_Party_of_Canada_(1963–93)

    They were a serious satire/protest party, but despite an occasionally ludicrous platform, they attracted a surprising number of protest votes. They even beat out candidates of some of the established parties in a few ridings, though they never actually won a seat. I briefly considered voting for our local Rhino candidate one year, as the lesser of a great many evils, but I had this horrible thought: what if everyone else went along with the vote and they won by a landslide? They might have been the best government we ever had… or a complete disaster. (Hmm… next time there’s a Canadian SF AU anthology, I know what my contribution will be…)

  14. People freaking out about Trump are forgetting just how wacko the early Republican race was last time Santorum? Bachman? Herman Cain?? Rick Perry? OK, none were quite as flamboyant as Donnie, but they weren’t any more credible.

  15. I’m also told that while the rest of us tend to want to hide our weirdos away, you Americans are more likely to put them on display for a the whole world to see – leading us to think that you have more of them then the rest of us. Maybe that kind of explains it too?

  16. Like John says, it’s a long, long way to Tipperary. Even 3 months is a long time from the conventions to the general. Fifteen months is an eternity where almost anything can happen.

  17. As someone on Twitter remarked, every time someone says that Trump is too crazy to become the US President, the voters of Toronto take another drink. Trump may look like an idiot, but the campaign of someone like him only becomes a farce in retrospect. And plenty of people have won because their opponents didn’t take them seriously enough.

    ‘Course, Ford had built up a base of very loyal supporters by personally responding to constituent complaints over several years in office, and I don’t think Trump has done anything near that kind of legwork.

  18. Donald Trump is scaring the shit out of me, as is the whole concept of Bush v. Clinton. I’m a Bernie gal through and through, and I hope he beats the pants suit off of Ms. Clinton. That being said, the thing I’ve enjoyed most about the whole Trump catastrophe is that it has resulted in the most glorious Internet movement in forever: “Trump your cat.” Seriously. Google it.
    It. Is. Everything. I’ve. Ever. Wanted. Out. Of. Life.

  19. johnmburt,

    Trump is the gooey essence left after all of the republican idealisms and conspiracy theories (and their leaders that are absolutely nuts) have been boiled down.

    He is the quintessential representation of the modern republican.

  20. I am inclined to agree with you about all your speaking points, but definitely “from your mouth to God’s ear.”

    Another Republican as president. I shudder.

  21. My prediction, as a reasonably informed (I hope) non-US person:

    Trump won’t get the nom. But enough of the Tea Party will rally around him to split the vote at the convention, and that will ensure that whoever does get the nom (and I agree with OGH that that’s going to be either Bush or Walker) will get pushed further to the right on issues like immigration; possibly to the extent of having a Paliin-esque running mate foisted on them. With the same result as what happened when Actual Sarah Palin ran.

  22. John, Good analysis of the situation. If our foreign friends are scared of our politics, it is with good reason. Some of us in the US don’t like it either.

  23. I deeply hope that the Trump runs as an independent. It is likely wishful thinking, but in my mind, the GOP folks who like Trump are the same xenophobic and homophobic one who believe that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim and that kids are safer if teachers carry guns all the time and other interesting/non-reality based things. I hope that, if they are out of the race, the GOP candidates can stop pandering to them and instead have a more sane party. I still wouldn’t VOTE for the saner GOP, but I would feel less embarrassed on the world stage. I mean, lots of countries have the occasional whackadoodle fringe political party but I’m mortified that one of the US’s serious major parties harbors these reality-challenged folks.

  24. Very astute observations, Mr. Scalzi, thanks for sharing! I think this Trump thing is going to run on for a long while as he seems to like nothing better than being noticed, for good or ill. The most interesting part of this is that the two candidates who have the strongest ties to the Hispanic community, Rubio and Bush, don’t seem to be reacting at anywhere near the level one would expect, I suppose there is no payout for calling him on it? Of course they all loved it when he was leading the birther charge last time and invited him into the tent, but now they are stuck with him. I don’t yet see how they eject him, which is why I think this is going to go on for a very long time.

    I’d like to read a follow-on about your thoughts on the inevitability of Clinton winning the Democratic nomination, if you are so inspired.

  25. I kind of hope Trump does get the nom, but only if Bernie Sanders gets the nod from the Democrats too. That would be the best contest ever, to watch from another continent. You can just imagine “but he is a socialist” colliding with “but Trump is…. Trump!!!” colliding in so many voters brains. Heads would be popping all over the USA.

  26. Uh, John… do you realize that the rest of the world doesn’t do that whole Camaro/speedboat/keg party thing, and we actually see that as part of the problem?

  27. “Trump won’t get the nom. But enough of the Tea Party will rally around him to split the vote at the convention, and that will ensure that whoever does get the nom (and I agree with OGH that that’s going to be either Bush or Walker) will get pushed further to the right on issues like immigration; possibly to the extent of having a Paliin-esque running mate foisted on them. ”

    DaveCrisp: you’re not from the US, so do yourself a favor and look up the “Bull Moose Party” online. That’s another instance from US history of a wild-card but popular candidate splitting the vote at the convention, which ultimately threw things to the Democrats. It may prove to be an amusing read.

  28. Dear John,

    I’m taking it from your remark that you don’t think Bernie Sanders has any chance of getting the Dem nomination?

    pax / Ctein

  29. What we have right now is The Group of Death for Assholes – GDA for short – and a lot of people are saying ridiculous things trying to get a little bit of the oxygen in the room not being sucked up by Trump. Mike Huckabee looks like he has second place comfortably, which leaves Ted Cruz in a difficult position.

    I would compare it to a minor league phenom seeing his first major league curveball or slider, a terrifying glimpse of his previously unimagined mortality.

  30. A recent poll showed that in the General election, Clinton would likely win over Bush by 6 points. Factoring Trump into the equation as a third-party candidate resulted in a 16-point Clinton win. DameB says that it is wishful thinking that Trump runs as an independent, but I think it is likely. In fact, he’s all but confirmed that he will run if the Republicans abandon him.

    In any event, who should he choose as his running mate?

  31. I remember in 1991, a lot of people assumed that Bush 41 would be reelected in a landslide. In 1999, Gore was going to be the next President. In 2007, we knew that a Democrat would win the following year and we all believed Hillary would be that Democrat.

  32. We also need to remember that Trump doesn’t actually want to be president. He wants to be the center of attention. If that attention ultimately comes in the form of an electoral victory somewhere along the line, he’ll be thrilled, but he’s just as happy being King Clown as ringmaster.

  33. I find it interesting that you think Hillary is going to be the Demo front runner. She is going to have to get past this e-mail problem she has created first plus several others that are out there. I don’t the think her or Bill are going to be able to kill off all these easily. She needs to confront these thing and really overcome them to win and in my book all she is doing is ducking the issues. The news media is not going to be able continue to let her hide from them for ever.
    All I see so far from the Republicans is a lot of we wannabes and a self promoter. At some point in time they will have to find someone can carry their banner and move forward. No one now has enough of a following to do that.

  34. Also, I’m enjoying the hell out of this popcorn. Trump stands zero chance of being president, but he is excellent entertainment in the meanwhile.

  35. I do wonder whether the people supporting Trump in opinion polls have a similar motivation to many of the people I’ve seen supporting Sanders: That is, most don’t think he’ll win, but are hoping he’ll shift the party in a direction they’d like to see it go. We’ll see how that works out for both camps.

    I admit to being a bit puzzled as to why so many Democratic supporters think Clinton’s will definitely win the general election, even if she’s almost certainly winning the Democratic nomination. She currently leads in *most* polls against generic and specific Republicans, but the leads are neither large nor unanimous, and she’s got some sizable unfavorable ratings as well. Given the long time between now and the election, and all the ways independents and party bases can be motivated (or de-motivated) once there’s a specific nominee, I don’t think folks supporting either party should assume the election’s in the bag.

    Though it Trump does stay in the race as an independent, I’ll be more confident in the Democrats’s chances. So I admit I’m hoping that his ego will keep him in, even if he has no chance of winning himself. (Hey, if he wants to remember himself as the person who tipped the elections, that’s his best strategy.)

  36. Geoff Arnold:

    “do you realize that the rest of the world doesn’t do that whole Camaro/speedboat/keg party thing”

    The rest of the world does not have explicit identifiers and behaviors associated with indolent wealth? I am skeptical.

    ctein:

    No, I don’t think Sanders is going to take it. Note this is a separate discussion from whether I’m happy he’s running or whether approve of his platform.

  37. The citizens of the US have trended to electing imbeciles to represent them in Washington in the past 35 years. This is my only fear about the Trump circus act: people think he’s in imbecile (which is on one level) when he’s really a cunning businessman who promotes his imbecilic viewpoints well. A political leader? Worthy of governing a nation? Capable of fostering peace and prosperity throughout the world? I could gag from laughing so hard … That’s a real joke.

  38. I have very mixed feelings about this. I love the fact that Trump is scaring the shit out of the Republican establishment, but face it: Most of the other 15 declared candidates are nearly as crazy. Jeb!, for example, just came out for phasing out Medicare, and he’s the safe pick. Hillary may seem to be a shoo-in now, but she looked like that in 2008, her negatives are now on a par with her positives, and the Democrats have no Plan B if she tanks. (I love Bernie Sanders and I hope he pulls Hillary to the left, but his chances in the Big One are basically nil if he runs against any Republican except Bobby Jindal.)

    On a related topic, the local diner in my Upper Northwest DC neighborhood has a “Dump Trump” sign up. I share the owner’s views, but in general I think it’s a bad policy for businesses to take unnecessary partisan public positions. I’m happy not to know that a John Birch Society sponsor owns the company that makes my favorite brand of tofu. A certain amount of ignorance is necessary for a coherent society. I can’t boycott everybody.

  39. I have friends who are “worried” that the Trumpster is polling so high. I gently remind them of a few of the Nutty McNuttersons who topped the GOP polls in 2012. I also remind them that at one point Sarah Palin led those polls even though she was never a candidate.
    I really hope the Trumpster makes a third-party run. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him throw a third-party convention to nominate himself, which would be the funniest thing ever.

  40. Bernie is awesome, but no way does he win the general.

    I’d bet a few of the people who are coming across as “liking” Trump are liking that it’s the silly season in news and it’s fun to watch him say outrageous stuff. He’s happiest as his own reality show, and now he is. He might get bored with it during the primaries and quit, though, esp. the minute he loses one. Campaigning is hard work and he’s allergic to that. Doubt he has the attention span to run third-party, that would mean focusing on only one thing for a whole 15 months. Which is kinda too bad, b/c we got some wackadoodle fun out of Perot, who was less bombastic than Trump.

    In any case, he’s partly responsible for getting “Bloom County” going again (the only thing worth going to FB for), so yay.

  41. I think there’s essentially no chance of Trump running as a third-party candidate. Despite his telling us every 5 minutes about how rich he is, there’s no way he’s going to spend huge amounts of his own money on a sure-to-be-unsuccessful third-party run. And it would be his own money, because I can’t imagine people making substantial donations to a guy whose business plan is telling the world how loaded he is, even among a portion of the electorate that doesn’t seem to be full of sharp thinkers.

    Mind you, I’d love to be wrong about this. Any votes he could drain from the Republican candidate would be all to the good, although I suspect that once silly season is over, Trump will return to polling zilch percent.

  42. Any way you look at it, Trump is trouble for the GOP. One commentator recently joked that the only way to get rid of this problem would involve a couple guys from NJ and a trip to the pine barrens. Which made me think – you know, there are some people on the right who have both the resources and the motivation and the willingness to do something like this. He doesn’t have secret service protection, does he?

  43. I’m also told that while the rest of us tend to want to hide our weirdos away, you Americans are more likely to put them on display for a the whole world to see – leading us to think that you have more of them then the rest of us.

    Having been watching the Tour de France over the last few days, I’m skeptical that the “rest of” the world likes to hide their weirdos away. Not to mention: Rob Ford.

    The citizens of the US people of the world have trended to electing always tended to elect imbeciles to represent them in Washington government.

    Elective systems always tend to throw up candidates that seem seriously unqualified for the job and some of them get elected.

    On Trump, he’s the perfect GOP candidate: rich, white, racist, and pulling the support of the white constituency that more and more has come to define Republicans. Clinton and Sanders big weakness is that they’re not nearly as attractive to ethnic groups within the Democratic Party as Obama is (Sanders especially, who’s been pretty tone-deaf on racial issues so far). Trump would go a long way towards making up for that problem. We’re sure he’s not a false flag operative for the Dems, right?

  44. To all the people saying they hope Trump runs as an independent because he would siphon off Republican votes, remember what happened in the British elections this year. The supposedly righter-than-right-wing Captain Crazy Pants party (UKIP) which was supposed to ease the left wing Labour party into power by draining Conservative votes turned out to draw down enough Labour votes to let the Conservatives into government. Turns out that a lot of left wing people like voting for the Crazy Pants Candidates to shake up the big guys. Trump running on a third party ticket could just as easily let the Republicans in as it could the Democrats. Electorates are funny that way.

  45. We need only look at the headlines from this stage of the 2008 campaign to see it in perspective. The Fred Thompson juggernaut was gathering momentum as Rudy Giuliani was having his melt-down.

    This is just the “reality show” stage of the election cycle, wherein it is in the interest of the media to give every GOP candidate a couple of weeks as the front runner so that they can get a few good advertising cycles out of each of them with the entertainment value of their implosions.

    They each spend some time under the magnifying glass, much as an ant might on a hot summer day if the media were bored and slightly sociopathic children.

    Trump is merely the flavor of the week in this reality show… he’s “Money Boo Boo.”

  46. I think at this early stage, people express to pollsters a preference for whichever candidate they find the most entertaining, not necessarily the one they will chose when crunch time comes. And The Donald, with his shoot-from-the-lip message of “F#@k political correctness! I’ll say what I feel like sayin’!” is nothing if not entertaining.

    And I am quite grateful to Trump for coaxing Berke Breathed out of retirement.

  47. ‘I shit you not, this really happened…!’ stories that we will have all experienced together but still don’t mind hearing again and again.

    Oh yeah? I beg to disagree and to disagree very strongly. I was eighteen years old when St. Ron was elected, at the beginning of my political life. And at the beginning of my political life and during all the years that followed it, I was a witness to the ruin my country. I watched my country go from being a creditor nation to a debtor nation; I watched my country go from being an exporter of finished goods to being an importer of finished goods; I watched while wages stagnated and while the cops went military and while ordinary citizens (over and over and over again) got solidly hosed. I shit you not, Pete, that really happened, and the world and the nation you’re living in are both the result of it.

    So, let me ask, does hearing this from me make you feel all warm and cozy? Does it gratify you like a fireside/campfire story? Is it something you want to hear over and over again? Is it something you have the power to deny?

    Mallet-avoiding Trump opinions:

    Watching the Goopers jettison Trump, which is something they will have to do (though whether they’ll have to do it to make way for Bush the Anointed or for Dark-Horse Walker is a question I can’t answer) will be interesting — and probably it will be amusing, too. I’m sure Trump realizes that this is something which is going to happen and has his plans all made. He’s certain to come out with some strategy which will prove embarrassing to all concerned, except for himself, of course. He won’t be caught in the backwash of whatever he ends up doing; he’s immune to embarrassment because he knows no shame.

    I wish I could share your optimism that Hillary Clinton will win. Of course, that’s what a rational man would think and you’re a rational man. And voting for her is what a rational man would do, ditto. My own take on the matter is that if Clinton runs against Bush, history repeats itself and Clinton wins, especially after the debacle of the Bush II Presidency. People are going to think “Clinton years” and then they’re going to think “Bush years” and then they’re going to think “Nah.” And Clinton will prevail. But if Clinton runs against Walker she’s in for the fight of her life, and she may lose it. Walker is rotten through and through; he’s beyond corrupt; he’s wholly-owned by the Koch brothers; and he’s won altogether too many elections. He’s managed to stay in office under circumstances which should have ensured that he’d be bodily ousted by an outraged populace. He’s a man who’s seemingly immune to pitchforks and torches in the way that Donald Trump is immune to shame. He’s living proof that you can’t always depend on the villain to lose the battle. Walker is a villain, and he’s won too many battles for my comfort. JMO.

  48. Thank you, John. I’m happy to confirm that your friend is not alone in viewing a Trump-led US as a disaster waiting to happen; we have enough problems without that one as well. Now all I have to do is persuade myself that you are right…

  49. “The rest of the world does not have explicit identifiers and behaviors associated with indolent wealth? I am skeptical.”
    Oh they do, but they are usually segregated, well out of sight of the hoi polloi. To pick on my home country of England, the idea of privileged arseholes like Boris Johnston or David Cameron actually hobnobbing with the plebs at a regional high school is simply absurd.

  50. Time to write a future alternative history in which Trump wins!. Of course it will have to be a short story because there is simply no way he would avoid pushing The Big Red Button when Putin pisses him off.

  51. Re. Rob Ford: Trump could become a big-city mayor, maybe even a state governor, without too much sweat. People will elect a buffoon as mayor for the amusement value — see also Boris Johnson, mayor of London. Becoming President of the USA is a lot harder. The voters think *slightly* harder about that job, as do a number of very serious people behind the scenes.

  52. So, let me ask, does hearing this from me make you feel all warm and cozy?

    Absolutely.

    On what basis? For what reason?

    Personally, I’m feeling progressively less and less warm and cozy, particularly at the prospect that guys like you can vote.

  53. It is sad that the best thing to come out of this election cycle may well be that Berke Breathed was coaxed out of semi-retirement by the prospect of Trump running for Prez.

  54. Some of the ideas people have about how modern American elections work seem somehwat fanciful from here. My exposure to how politics works in the US was marrying into a political family, a group of old line New York Irish Democrats who are deep into it. Probably 20% of them are involved in all elections, even the smallest, going door to door, working in campaign offices, making calls, arranging rides to the polls, some even acting as paid staff. You win elections by running a great campaign, which is built with thousands of people, mostly unpaid, who support you.

    Trump has money, he has recongnition, but he hasn’t been building a nationwide campaign machine that is going to do the work. If he can parley his noteriety into the basis of a real campaign he could be a real contender, but his campaign manager is a guy like him, who loves to throw rocks at the establishment. He draws the people who feel like the GOP has abandoned the “real conservative movement” and who are also in league with The Forces Of Darkness as they see it. They won’t mind watching Rome burn, but I bet they want someone else to do the hard work. If this changes then he could be a contender, but his history is to pump them for attention, which he uses for his own purposes. He’s hung in much longer that I would have guessed, so far, and it will be interesting to see how long he lasts. He talks like he will rule by fiat, so it will be interesting to see if he realizes that isn’t the case and gets bored, or if this is just another publicity stunt for his “brand”.

    The Bush family has been shaking hands all over the country for decades, making connections and lining up supporters. Likewise for Hillary. I assume Walker has been connecting with the hard core conservatives and using his Koch connections to start building a national campaign. Perry, Rubio, etc., must have been trying the same thing, but with less success. You need money to run a campaign and even play in the arena, but mostly you need thousands of dedicated supporters to do the real work. This is why most of the candidates have no chance. Sanders has not been around the country for decades making connections with local Democratic organizations and it is late in the day to start and he doesn’t know how to talk to anyone but progressives. O’Malley has no chance either, but he can start getting attention on the national stage and start building broader connections for a future run. Castro is known and liked and might have run if Hillary was out of the picture, but I bet he is waiting for next time.

    The lesson of 2013 was not too wait too long to get to the general campaign, so the longer Trump struts the worse it is for the eventual Republican candidate.

  55. Basically, the GOP is screwed either way, when it comes to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump will never, ever be president. I could be wrong about this. But I really really don’t think I am.

    Ahem. To quote someone much wiser than myself on the subject of unlikely Presidents:

    “Another great thing about Bush being gone: it ends twelve years of fundamentalist Christians in the fucking White House. Thank you, God. Finally my prayers got through. This B-actor idiot, fucking illiterate, bozo-looking fuck can’t really be the President of the country, can he God? Not really! Reach Your hands down from the clouds and pinch my little butt and make sure I’m not dreamin’!” “

  56. here’s a thinky bit or two:

    1) the Trump run really has screwed the GOP (not that I’m assuming they had a chance to begin with) If he’s the nominee, he loses by 20 points. If he’s not, he runs independent and plays an effective spoiler.

    2) a Trump nomination would be good for the GOP – on the basis that you have to reach rock bottom before you admit you have a problem and need help. Right now, there is no credible alternative to the Democrats, and the country will be better off when there is a credible alternative (hell, the Democrats will be better off in that scenario, too)

    3) Trump’s opinions on governance are terrifying. His comments scolding John Roberts for recent rulings betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the Supreme Court: he essentially took Roberts to task for not being able to control his court – as if the SC is just a board room where a strong chairman can bully the others into compliance.

    4) A Trump presidency would be highly entertaining. I’d predict a blatant and unapologetic impeachable offense within the first 100 days (Probably something along the lines of threatening to evict Chinese companies from his many properties if they won’t play ball at trade negotiations.)

  57. WinB : In any event, who should he choose as his running mate?

    What, his hairpiece isn’t qualified as a US citizen or something?

  58. The most insightful observation I’ve heard about Trump’s campaign is that he’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the Republican Party. (ht Melissa McEwen)

  59. The Trump bounce has been sustained for almost a month now. And this is the important part, it’s starving all the other candidates for national air-time that is essential for them to have their campaign taken seriously and start to gain them name-recognition. Worse is that there’s a wide board of potential GOP candidates, so funding that might come to counter the “TrumpTrumpTrump!” free-media is instead spread out thin over all the different potential candidates. Sure, Jeb Bush could become the focus of funding and support… But that would require almost the entire old-establishment to back Jeb right now, and hope to bring Fox News et all into line. The longer this situation goes on, the more chance Trump actually gets of sustaining a demagogue campaign that feeds on it’s own free-media and brand-recognition.

  60. Of course Trump is going to get the GOP nomination. He is what that backwards party have created with its rejection of anything scientific or sane, and heralding of the Entrepreneur together with sucking up to the mega rich. Who among the mediocre or equally insane he’s up against could out-trump him? As a Non-USonian I then ask of you to not make him president, or the planet is doomed.

  61. I mean, lots of countries have the occasional whackadoodle fringe political party

    Yeah – in some countries, they get elected. *sad face*

    The rest of the world does not have explicit identifiers and behaviors associated with indolent wealth? I am skeptical.

    Oh yes- just not those signifiers, necessarily.

    In the UK, being 17 or 18 and having any car marks you out as quite well-off, if you’re not in work (not least because insurance for a new driver runs to about three thousand bucks) – on the other hand, if you’re 18, you can go and drink, because you’re a legal adult.

  62. This is, to be fair, WAY EARLY in the primarying and polling. Anything can happen – and likely will – between the August debates and the first real primary vote (January?). Whatever happens from that point on will be how scary it gets. Just saying… http://noticeatrend.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-problem-facing-republicans-this.html
    This is just smoke to a lot of bad fires burning underneath it all:
    1. the Republicans are truly disorganized at this point and tripping over themselves. They failed to set up a proper vetting system for their debates, leaving it too easy for the likes of Trump to pander his way to a podium.
    2. the Republicans have no true front-runner, not even among their “Establishment” candidates in Bush or Walker. Unlike 2012 where Mitt was kind of a “meh, he’s it” front-runner, there’s nobody to rally around. It’s not helping the Republicans have 16, no wait 17… maybe 18 names in the running. Welcome to the downside of the Citizens United rulings, guys: the nature of SuperPAC uncontrolled fundraising means far too many of the candidates can stay in for far longer than ever before and take away too many delegates to adequately anoint a winner. And in the case of Trump, he’s so well-funded himself that he doesn’t have to answer to ANYBODY within the GOP organization.
    3. the party base – which truly matters during primary season – are no longer beholden to the “Establishment” like previous election cycles. Having been stoked up into rage and fear on all fronts, they’re not about to rally to the likes of Jeb (who is “soft” on immigration). this base – the Tea Partiers, the Far Right, the anti-abortion and anti-immigration types – is responding to Trump not because he’s making any sense, it’s because he’s telling them exactly the messages they’ve been hearing from the conservative media for years. This is the truly scary thing: Trump’s not the problem, the GOP base is.
    4. everybody else in the primaries are going to pander like never before. they have to, now that Trump’s opening salvo was to the most base, crass emotional pitch any candidate ever offered. And got him his now-huge polling lead.
    5. the Democrats better not think things will be easy if Trump even gets anywhere. the frailty of the electoral system – the massive voter suppression that’s already getting ginned up by Republicans to cut down on “unwanted” voters above all – and the horse-race nature of politics does not make anything a sure thing for 2016 for the Dems. They’d best be campaigning to get their base motivated and eager to vote (something that hasn’t happened in the last 4 midterms). And the race isn’t just for the Presidency: the chance to reclaim the Senate is sitting right there, and the overall election can well affect those races (and they need solid candidates in every one dammit).

  63. I think I messed up the formatting on my last comment. :(

    Also – I got the most “likes”[1] I ever had in a Facebook thread where I mentioned that “Trump” in the UK is a rather genteel word for a fart.

    Does that not work in US English?

    [1] And a couple of death-threats, and inappropriate remarks about my late mother, but trolls are going to troll. Meh.

  64. Trump is 2015’s answer to H. Ross Perot, with worse hair and less gravitas. And Trump will also show that unlimited money can’t buy the presidency. (Note: that doesn’t mean that the person who wins the nomination doesn’t get the most money. It means that the money follows the candidate most likely to win.)

  65. I totally get the appeal of the non-politician who will say any damn thing that pops into his head. I live in Minnesota, where we elected Jesse Ventura, and although I didn’t vote for him, I voted that year in the morning because I knew that if it were the end of the day after work and I was tired, I might very well vote for him over Skip Humphery, the Democrat, because omg, Skip was the political equivalent of watery Cream of Wheat.

    Jesse was also at least marginally closer to being a decent human being than Trump, and I was optimistic that he’d do a good job. I was disappointed. He was very much less than the sum of his parts, and I imagine the same would apply to Trump, plus in Trump’s case he’s a racist jerk.

    I am finding both his success, and the panic over it, entertaining. He is not going to take the nomination; it’s summer, slow news season, and “TRUMP! omg omg TRUMP!” is giving the press something to talk about in an election season that most voters aren’t really paying attention to yet.

  66. I don’t know. Part of me dearly hopes that Trump will get the Republican nod, or better yet, that he’ll decide they’ve insulted him so badly he’ll run as an independent, thus handing the Dems the election.

    But then I remember that I also thought at one point that the citizens of Wisconsin would see what a totally amoral and thoroughly corrupt criminal Walker was and would vote him out in the recall election a couple years ago. And I remember Mencken’s comment about nobody ever going broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

    I hope you’re correct in your projections, Mr. Scalzi. I really do. But I’m old enough and cynical enough that I won’t be convinced unless and until I see it happen.

  67. Oddly enough, Trump COULD be the best thing to happen to the GOP. They have suffered defeats in the last two presidential elections. However, they have done well in the off-years. If Trump gets the nod, the GOP could well be CRUSHED – in the same way the Dems were in ’72. Of course, Watergate happened, but in general, the Democratic party had to re-build itself and move AWAY from representing mostly the fringe of the population. Trump could be just the wake-up call the GOP needs to re-define themselves.

  68. @ Fran_K: Some good points, but upsets do happen. Hillary was the Sound of Inevitability in 2008, and we all know how that turned out. Even Bill Clinton was not the bookies’ favourite when he started out in 1992. I think Jeb is the most probable Republican nominee, but the party is so toys-in-the-attic crazy right now that I’m not hugely confident he’ll get it.

  69. I suppose it’s wrong that after reading the headline, the words “For a duck may be somebody’s mother” left my lips? It scans, after all.

    Note to Americans: I know you are raised on the idea that anyone can be President. Please stop trying to prove it with increasingly unlikely nominees.

  70. ‘the GOP primary voters will eventually settle down and vote for Jeb Bush (or maaaaaybe Scott Walker), who will go on to be defeated by Hillary Clinton in the general election.”

    Boy, do I hope you’re right about this. I’m beginning to get nervous about Secretary Clinton but you’re right that it’s a whole 15 months away so I shouldn’t pay too much attention to what’s going on now.

    But no way will we Americans or the world ever have to worry about a President Donald Trump. Not Going To Happen. Trump is just having fun running his mouth and tearing holes into his fellow Republicans, which is fine with me. Would be really fun if he ran as a Third Party candidate. He’d be our very own Ross Perot handing the White House to another Clinton.

  71. As an aside, the Trump campaign is renting offices in Trump real estate, buying supplies from Trump office suppliers, printing material on Trump publishing presses, booking travel via Trump travel services… So it may just be that he’s found a new way to get other people to funnel investment funds into his companies. In which case why on earth would he not continue as an independent if he can find the PACs to keep the money coming?

  72. @Iain: Yep, but they were all able to capitalize on the situation and build an effective campaign, I don’t see how Trump can do it since he is throwing bombs at his potential future supporters and not building an on-the-ground staff. Obama surrounded himself with smart people and had an amazing tech staff that helped him organize the best modern campaign ever seen, and he wrong footed Hillary badly. She now has the benefit of his blessing and his voter data and analysis staff. Note how quickly the Clintons signed on after Obama clinched it. Obama is now somewhat underrated, but he has done amazingly well. Likewise, Bill Clinton is razor sharp and great with people, pure charisma. He stumbled a lot, but tuned into the populace quite well. The Clintons were young and effective campaigners. I don’t think Trump has it in him. Bush and Walker, certainly. Bush already has access to the Bush family connections and the “establishment” wing on the party that his father was part of.

  73. My nightmare scenario is that Trump somehow, against all odds, gets the nomination, then Hillary Clinton gets sick or suffers some personal scandal or disaster that makes her completely non-viable as a candidate. Could whoever she eventually chooses as a running mate still beat Trump? Probably, but ugh. Actually, come to think of it, the Hillary illness/disaster scenario is scarier if there’s a more viable Republican opponent, like Jeb Bush.

  74. @Mitchell Hundred: I’m guessing whoever posted that on Twitter was already a few beers under. Setting aside the fact that (as you note), Rob Ford built a loyal following through direct work with his constituents in his prior office, Toronto is a city of 2.6 million people. The United States is a collection of 50 individual states with over 300 million people. It doesn’t quite scale.

    Though from what my Canadian friends tell me, the Harper government is slimy and evil enough that the pre-season shenanigans of your neighbors to the south are probably not of such immediate importance.

    @Geoff Arnold: Yeah, no. The idea that “the rest of the world” is quiet and modest about flashy and obnoxious displays of wealth, and has a unitary view on such things different from that of the US, is a bizarre mirror-universe version of American exceptionalism.

  75. @Mitchell Hundred: Ford responding to complaints is not a big deal-any politician worth their salt would do so (and usually does so.) The problem is, that Ford and his supporters are/were full of shit, and not fit to be voting for anybody (or in Ford’s case, to be voted in as councilor or as mayor of a big city.) The damage he did to Toronto was/is incalculable, with the loss of time needed to build the much-needed Transit City project multiplied (we could have had that built in time for 2015-2016, but now anything like that and the Downtown Relief Line will never be built, at least, not until 2030.) Politicians like these are people that needed to be weeded out (especially if they have a substance abuse problem and can’t run a city properly or don’t understand how subway lines are planned) and something like term limits is what Toronto needs for its city council (done in two [terms], good-bye to you.) An incompetent like Trump running things has people scared out of their wits in the USA and abroad, and rightfully so.

    @Robin in NM: I’m sorry, but the GOP needs to die and stay dead-it’s a party that’s past its prime, and that has nothing to offer the average American (or the world) other than racism, fascism, corporatism, sexism, homophobia, and war. The party has fucked up the USA just as badly as the Communist (Stalinist) Party messed up Russia-why should it be around to run things again? It needs to die, stay dead, and be replaced with a party that cares for others and knows what is what about life in the 21st century (either the Green Party, Socialist Party, or some other party that gives a shit about others and the ordinary person besides wealthy people and corporations.)

  76. In the 2012 GOP primary, Trump was the opening clown act in a year-long circus designed to tell the Tea Party and other right-wingers that they weren’t going to get any of their candidates nominated, because only somebody picked by the corporatist GOP party machine would really be electable, and that was going to be Mitt Romney. Rick Perry and his good hair took the crazy-people vote away from Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain was a nice guy but not deep enough, Sarah Palin wasn’t getting invited back, Ron Paul had a strong support base and wasn’t going away but was too radical to win, Jon Huntsman was a corporatist with some potential but the billionaire Mormon ex-governor slot was already taken and he was too independent to play the party machine’s games while Romney was cool with that.

    This year, he’s doing a bit of the same thing – I agree that it’s probably going to be Jeb Bush or Scott Walker, with a possible option of Kasich for VP, but it’s way way too early to have a settled candidate because then there’d be a year to actually make them talk about issues, instead of letting the circus clowns insult Hillary about email or Benghazi or being divisive or being a woman or being a Clinton or whatever, just like the GOP machine let the right-wingers spend months doing their silly birther act of vicious negative campaigning against Obama while maintaining plausible deniability for their candidate.

    My guess is that Trump may be bashing immigrants so they can both keep the right-wingers entertained while leaving Bush the option of declaring himself to be the reasonable adult in the room and telling the rest of the country that the Republicans did have some nativist supporters but that he and the pro-business wing are fine accepting people who think the country needs cheap laborers, and Bush can’t bring out that message too early because he needs most of the right-wingers to drop out and Ted Cruz to just go away.

    (And I disagree with godfreydigiorgi about 35 years of idiots for president – Clinton was brilliant, Bush 41 was pretty smart for an evil guy, and Obama’s a coward but not an idiot, and while Dubya was mostly an idiot, Cheney was also pretty smart for an evil guy. And Reagan said his lines like he was supposed to.)

  77. John:

    I think your assessment is at least partly correct.

    Right now, Trump’s campaign (which centers on the costs and general lawlessness of illegal immigration) is very cathartic for Americans who are fed up with the situation.

    However, the GOP “establishment” realizes that it will be necessary to pander to the Hispanic voting block in the end. And when it comes to pandering to the Hispanic vote, Jeb Bush has proven more than ready for the task. So I agree with you: Bush ’16.

    There is one possibility I think you’ve overlooked for the general election, though: Suppose that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump *both* run third-party campaigns?

    It is not inconceivable. Trump has already hinted that he will do so, and Sanders is already an independent.

    That could dramatically skew the numbers. Though the question of whether more conservatives would vote for Trump, or more progressives would vote for Sanders, is anyone’s guess.

  78. @Todd

    Except that Sanders is not running as an Independent, and is explicitly standing as a Democrat in order to not be a spoiler candidate, and almost certainly would not run against Clinton for the presidency if she wins the nomination.

  79. I live in a state where a fellow named Evan Mecham, through a perfect shitstorm of unlikely events and failed expectations and predictions, got elected as Arizona’s governor in 1986. (And was impeached by popular demand after about a year in office.) Reminiscent of Trump in many ways. But Mecham didn’t have access to nuclear weapons.

  80. Your non-US friend doesn’t get it: Trump is the most moderate Republican Presidential candidate. Trump is far more moderate than the rest of the Republican candidates. Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, all states where the full Republican program has been implemented, are bankrupt. They all want to start a war with Iran. Jeb Bush wants to privatize Medicare. Jindal has been an exorcist. Ben Carson says the USA is like Nazi Germany. And on, and on…

    They’re all nuts! Stark staring bonkers! We may hope Trump will split the Republican vote. Please, god, oh, please…

  81. Trump wins the nomination because his end game is to have Michael Moore become his running mate. For the record I love the Camaro keg party explanation, as a non American that is.

  82. I don’t think Trump can get the nomination. The loudmouth fringe (which is mouthy enough that most people, including themselves, think they’re the mainstream) of the Republican party may love him for being a racist, sexist, homophobe, but they’re also generally pro-military. Trump’s comments about McCain’s war service seriously offended more people than he realized. I know veterans ranging from borderline Tea Party to not quite as far left as Sanders, and _all_ of them say Trump crossed the line.

  83. What scares me, another furriner reasonably informed about american politics, about the Trump run is not the fact that he could be President. That’s extremely unlikely, I agree. No matter what the polls say now. (Mind you, if you guys DO manage to elect him, against all odds, I’ll be stocking up on canned goods and bottled water as soon as it’s confirmed.)

    What’s worrying is that a large minority of your population is, at this time, apperantly LOVING a hairpiece with a racist scumbag for boots.

    It’s worrying, though unsurprising. Here in Europe, we’ve got large minorities voting for racist scum too. But, well, that’s it for my hopes of America setting a positive example for conservative opponents one can RESPECT for now.

    (As an aside: It feels weird cheering for someone named Bush. Though I got some practice when Sr shaved his head to support a kid with cancer. But I sure as hell hopes Jeb gets the GOP nomination in the end. Because the very unlikely nightmare of a Trump presidency pales in comparison with the somewhat-likely nightmare of a Walker presidency. Or so people from the state he mis-governed for the last couple of years tell me.)

  84. So (bear with me here before you unleash your fury), I hope Trump actually makes it all the way to the White House. I say this sort of tongue-in-cheek, but think of it like this: the US is falling WAY behind in the international “my supreme leader is crazier than your supreme leader” arms race. Just look at the playing field: Khamenei, Putin, Jinping, Jong-Un. These guys are totally bat-$#!+ crazy and most of them are in control of nuclear arsenals. These wackos keep pulling little stunts like refining uranium, invading Crimea, shooting missile tests at Japan, and shooting satellites down. And they do it because they know the world (let alone the US) doesn’t have the matching insanity to do anything about it. If you don’t think China was watching what happened in Crimea and thinking, “Man, I bet the US would wuss out when we invade Taiwan and lay claim to the entire South-China Sea too!”

    Buuuuut, elect someone like Donald Trump to POTUS and I picture all of these guys going, “Wait, they did what!?” Just look at some of the posts above from nice folks living outside the US–Trump is as terrifying to the rest of the world as he is to mostly-sane Americans. Yes, yes, it might mean World War III and the nuclear holocaust, but if it doesn’t go that far, just think of all the crazy street cred we’d pick up by putting that man in charge! It would totally say to the world, “You wanna see crazy, I’ll show you crazy. Now get back in line and make peace or next time we’re electing Mel Gibson.”

  85. From an outsider’s perspective, neither side looks that inviting. For one example, as Secretary of State, Clinton showed willful disregard for security and due process. For another example, in 2013, the Clinton Foundation spent more money on travel expenses that it gave in grants.

    * Trump is… well, Trump. Self aggrandizing, all about the money and a bad hairdo.
    * Clinton is… well, Clinton. Self aggrandizing, all about the money. But better hair than Trump.

    By comparison, my local right wing death beast volunteers in his local fire brigade, and his worst crime (according to the more vitriolic of opponents) appears to be that he’s a catholic.

  86. Oh, ye Gods, martin, if you can’t tell the difference between Donald Trump whose greatest claim to fame is that he’s a businessman but has gone bankrupt four times, and Hillary Clinton, who has at least served the country in a number of different ways that actually don’t pay that well (Senator = $174K, Sec of State $186K) then you’re just not interested in looking.

  87. @pwarten said: “Unlike 2012 where Mitt was kind of a “meh, he’s it” front-runner …”

    That was only *after* pretty much everyone else in the 2012 version of the Republican clown car had their turn in the center ring. I expect roughly the same this time around.

  88. @bearpaw for the 2012 primaries the race turned into Mitt vs. Not-Mitt, whomever was the Flavor of the Week – Bachmann, Cain, Newt, Santorum, that plumber guy maybe – just so that Mitt had to struggle a bit longer into the cycle before locking up enough delegates to win the nom.

    I originally envisioned 2016 would be a Jeb vs. Not-Jeb cycle, but Jeb! himself isn’t doing so hot to where he can be the Establishment guy: Walker is vying for that spot. Which means this year’s cycle is more wild-card than set in stone.

  89. All things are possible until the event is observed. We have no idea who will make the cut for the August 6th debate just yet so the floor for CRAZY PANDERING isn’t set yet.
    As for the debate itself, there is a slight possibility Trump is crafty enough to keep himself polite towards the moderator – he does know who and how to suck up to – to where he won’t implode on-stage.
    There is still more than a week to go. Anything can happen. The pandering, after all, is just starting to get worse – go to hell, Huckabee – and instead of Trump imploding we could see a lot of the mid-tier guys – Cruz, Santorum, Christie, Huck – causing self-inflicted wounds. This is how unpredictable the whole thing’s becoming.
    I really hate that Jon Stewart is leaving. I know his sanity and ulcers can’t take it anymore, it’s just… we need him to mock this all, without mercy and with justice.

  90. This is worse than the usual politics as sport fandom. Trump is a caricature and any he’s doing it for the attention, He’s not a serious candidate no matter how much money he pretends to have. The MSM should stop using him as a clown to sell views/clicks. Not that they will. No matter how reasonable or unreasonable he is, he will be portrayed as a clown. When Biden enters the race, expect the same treatment for him

  91. Your friend must live in a very quiet country indeed. Trump is an idiot but not very scary by world standards. There are entire PARLIAMENTS scarier than The Donald.

  92. The best the GOP can hope for is Trump fires himself after his poll numbers/ratings go down. I don’t believe his ego would allow him to continue if his poll numbers took a big drop. The upcoming debate will be interesting, and entertaining, because he will have to respond in a public forum he does not control. The other candidates could all pile on or just wait for Trump to melt down similar to Perry. I suspect Trump will not participate in many debates and will claim they are unimportant.

    The large GOP field of candidates may be the result of court rulings regarding campaign finances But some of them must realize they have no chance at the presidential nomination and are really only campaigning to get their name out for a possible vice-president slot.

  93. I think Trump has the GOP over a barrel.

    He’s stupid enough to say the things that they all think but won’t say publicly, and clever enough to know that it won’t hurt him with the insanity that is the modern Republican base. The thinking Republicans – the ones who actually know how things work and still have rational conservative views (remember Jon Huntsman?), a small and declining group in that party but not one without clout – can’t repudiate him because if they do they lose their most committed party members. They’ve spent years building up a base susceptible to extreme right-wing rhetoric and now they’ve got a guy saying all those dog-whistle things in the clear and if they shut him down they lose the base that determines who wins the primaries. There will be howling and gnashing of teeth if that happens. But if they let him go on saying those things they alienate pretty much everyone who isn’t a hardcore right-wing social conservative Tea Partier, which is well over three quarters of the population and not a recipe for success in the general election.

    They’re stuck. If I worked for the Democratic Party, I don’t think I could DEVISE a better weapon against the GOP than Donald Trump.

    He’ll implode eventually. But until then it’s going to be an interesting ride.

  94. I pretty much agree with what you said, but my version wasn’t as funny. Too bad Bernie doesn’t have a chance.

  95. Yes, David Irving (you poor soul! Your best hope is that you cosmically balance out the other one). That’s where my mind goes too, in its darker hours. When Tony Abbott started spruiking himself as a potential leader after the Prime Miniature retired, no one took the threat seriously. And when you see people saying they’d vote for Trump for nominee, because, heck, he’d never win … you know, enough people do that and suddenly he’s a force to be reckoned with. Even if he doesn’t get the nomination, he has the numbers to be taken seriously.

  96. It isn’t ‘if’ Trump will shoot his foot off, it’s ‘when?’ Of course he’ll manage to say that one stupid thing he can’t reel back. How much will he damage the GOP? That’s like asking how much will Hillary damage the Democrats? So far almost the entire 2016 field – both sides – looks like disaster central.

    The GOP ‘Big Money’ has selected Bush, on the assumption that he’ll be a honest politician – one who stays bought. It’s a family tradition.

  97. David Irving: We at least have the comfort of knowing that everyone who lives outside the seat of Warringah can truthfully say “well, I didn’t vote for him!”.

    However, the example of Tony Abbott is a good one for the USA to bear in mind. For the past two Federal elections, I’ve said the best thing the Liberal Party of Australia could have done was either taken Tony Abbott out into the back paddock and chained him to a fence post, or bricked up his mouth. Yet somehow, he got elected. I blame Rupert Murdoch, who owns 70% of Australia’s mainstream newspapers, doesn’t live in the country, and doesn’t have to deal with the fallout of choices made in order to boost profits for News Corporation. With this in mind, you may want to keep an eye on who Fox News is busy promoting hardest, and remember Mr Murdoch, while now a US citizen (and thus your problem to deal with), spends most of his time in London. It’s easy to make entertaining choices when you don’t have to deal with the consequences.

  98. Another thing worth adding to your analysis, John, is that when you have a pool of candidates where 15 of them are mostly similar on most positions, and one candidate is jumping around in the deep end attracting the crazies, it’s no surprise that all the crazies are supporting the guy in the deep end, while everyone else is still deciding which of the other 15 people to get behind. Even if Trump has 10% of the party behind him, that other 90% will be pretty fractured until 3/4 of the current choices give up the race.

  99. Australia has a parliamentary system. The elections are different. If the party makes the person the head and the party gets the most seats, then the head of the party becomes prime minister. And we all know that people often vote for individuals without looking at the wider party issues. So if enough people like the candidates in their swatch from that party, that’s what you get.

    In the U.S., the president is elected separate from the legislation. The party backs their candidate and that’s critical, but first candidates have to lobby not to be the head of the party or even the party’s choice for candidate, but instead the choice of voters who show up for primaries, many of whom might not even belong to the party. And then the party is supposed to throw its full weight behind that candidate, but often doesn’t. So what you have in our mainly two party system is a lot of different mini-parties in the big parties, whereas in parliamentary systems, there’s less factionalization.

    3/5ths of the Republican party factions are supported by a combo of disgruntled white people and fringe groups. The remaining 2/5ths are supported by disgruntled white people and corporations. The corporations usually win, but first they have to let the fringe groups whine and make them promises. The more promises they’ve had to make, the more leverage the fringe groups have gotten to be heard. In addition, most of the Republican politicians and lobbying strategists make a ton of money off of wealthy financial backers giving money to PACs, where it’s mostly non-accountable, and selling snake oil products to the fringe groups. Running for president gets them a lot of money, most of which they can cache one way or another, and media attention in order to sell things or themselves, plus landing nice corporate jobs later on. So there is absolutely no reason for Republican candidates not to pile on and say crazy things and cater to fringe groups. It doesn’t hurt them and is profitable. They aren’t in charge of the Republican party, even if they become president. The ones who are slightly more reticent are running for spots as VP or in the cabinet.

    Trump I think was surprised to loose business from some of the things he said. But he’s been through bankruptcy continually. I don’t think he’s that worried about it for the long term, and running makes him profit in other ways. He doesn’t care about the Republican party or looking good for the general election. And his celebrity gets him more media attention; comics love him. Other candidates will also say outrageous things — Huckabee was losing his profit centers to Trump and so went to the Nazis to try and get them back. This is going to go on until the primary election, where a handful of corporations and about thirty very wealthy conservatives will decide who will run and get the main money. Probably it will be Bush, since he’s the only one with enough of a profile and not too much crazy, plus he has the Latino wife.

    The Democrats are stuck with Hilary, as there is nobody else with enough of a coalition, backing, public profile, etc. She’ll do alright and she had the learning experience from the previous campaign. She’s corporate friendly, but we don’t get a Democrat president in the White House who is not corporate friendly. Sanders will help keep her on the progressive side and may be in the cabinet. He’s invaluable, but he’s the wrong profile to win the general election. Can she beat Bush? I think it will be close, and that’s problematic. Bush is so far doing well letting the primary battles go on without him. He had a couple of gaffes, but conservatives shrug those off and it’s way early.

    In the U.S., elections are long, political theater. Trump is just the opening act.

  100. The GOP has simply given up on appealing to too many sectors of the American public. Hate, intolerance, bigotry, racism, whatever you call it, when you deliberately alienate everybody who doesn’t look and think exactly like you, you get Trump, Bush and maybe a few token candidates. All of whom speak the harsh language of exclusiveness. Bad enough they litmus test the crap out of candidates on the issues, but then they litmus test the voters too. That’s a recipe for failure.

    The hell of it is, I’ll still vote for whoever runs against Hillary, however hard I have to pinch my nostrils. But she’s likely to win. (And anybody care to bet she hands Bill his walking papers the day after the election? I got ten bucks…)

  101. I’m with E: he just wants attention. Also, some people pretty much just “run for president” for the lulz. Plus it’s fun this way to watch him ruin his entire reality TV show career.

  102. Just in case DT will lead in the polls after his second debate with HIllary Clinton, does anyone here have Johnny Smith’s phone number?

  103. Nice public service message to a world that saw us vote in G.W. Bush and is thus understandably concerned. But he is just a sideshow, with no bearing on the election other than how much it helps Clinton. We promise. (But the number of comments in this thread is testament to the fact that, as much as he’s hated, everyone loves the “roller coaster made of blow jobs” (Jon Stewart) that is the Trump show.)

  104. /professional wrestling mode on

    Election day 2016, Clinton, the republican candidate, and independent candidate Donald Trump all waiting for the results. Polls close, Clinton is announced the winner–and Trump rips off his shirt revealing a Democratic Party t-shirt underneath. He picks up a folding chair and chairshots the Republican candidate.

    /professional wrestling mode off

    It would explain so much!

  105. To me, the most hilarious aspect of the whole Republican nation right now is that Republicans, generally speaking, disbelieve the evolutionary process, and yet by nominating, what are we at now? Forty? Eighty? Nominees for president? They seem to be fanatically *embracing* evolution. It’s almost as if someone in GOP headquarters just discovered genetic programming, and said, hey, lets see how many mutations we can create, run them all for nomination, and see what happens!

    It is funny because the Trump gets mutant.

    Also, I know this is off topic, but damn that picture at the top is crazy surreal. Yellow lab, green grass, blue sky. Did you Photoshop that together? It’s like BAM! COLORS! motherfucker!

  106. Hm, comment is in moderation…..

    I know this violates the no-sequential-posts rule, but after I hit post, the picture at the top of the site, the one I mentioned in the comment, is now a different picture. At which point, the above comment will likely make a WHOLE lot less sense than it may have when I actually posted it.

    Rotating front page images???

    CURSE YOU SCALZI!!!!

  107. Technically, you’re correct, Kat, but Australian elections have been increasingly presidential since Whitlam (1972).

  108. Greg:

    Comment was in moderation because it featured a picture — I automatically put posts with pictures into moderation until I can see what the picture is.

  109. Great post with a lot of valid observations. If he doesn’t get the nomination, Trump might end up running as a third party or independent candidate, like Ross Perot did, which I think would still hurt the Republicans more than the Democrats, but you never know. He’s such a loose cannon and his entire candidacy is more of a publicity stunt than a legitimate one, which shocks me all the more when some people seem to take him so seriously. We’ll see what happens in the actual voting booth.

  110. As a child of the State of Maine (although not currently resident there) I caution all who think that 4 to 8 years of Trump would be entertaining. LePage was seen by many as a straight talking outsider.

    I think JS is correct about his assessment, although I am going to support Sanders as long as he’s in. (If I were being really quixotic I would go Chaffee.)

  111. Yeah…

    I think you and everyone else is misunderestimating Trumps appeal. The McCain thing I thought would puncture his balloon, but it didn’t (and swiftboating Kerry helped win an election, remember). I didn’t think he’d run, then I didn’t think he’d file his financial disclosure. I think he’s all in. And as pointed out above, he is actually slightly less crazy than the other candidates (e.g. Walker – bombing Iran on inauguration day, for starters. And also being one of the lowest form of pond scum in the Republican party). He’s also pro-choice and hasn’t said anything too glaringly sexist yet (that I am aware of) which puts him ahead of the barefoot and pregnant Republican norm.

    At least Trump is pointing out the economic disasters that 100% Republican administrations have wrought on Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, etc. Hilary isn’t, but she’s not really campaigning yet.

    I think the Economist article is pretty good, but again I think they underestimate him.

    http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21659724-europe-donald-trump-would-have-his-own-party-and-seats-parliament-el-donald

    Hilary is a dreadful candidate, a right wing corporatist of the worst sort, but she’s still 1,000% better than any of the Republican clown car. That whole e-mail server “idea’ of hers was just stupid.

    And Bush the nth has the charisma of a befuddled sheep, which isn’t going to help. I think it will be Spawn of Satan Walker, and he scares me more than Trump.

  112. This whole post reminds me of when I was overseas before Bush was elected. And people there kept asking WHY? PLEASE TELL ME WHY? All I could do was shrug my shoulders. You’re a good man for trying to explain this to non-Americans. Hell, I barely understand this country or its politics after living here my whole life. Kudos.

  113. Trump cannot get elected is the safe money bet. On the other hand Silvio Berlusconi was Prime Minister of Italy. So far there is no evidence that Trump has any serious interest in anything except getting his name in the papers. The only difference this time is that he had to go further for the same amount of attention because people finally caught wise to his game from the last election cycle so he actually had to file this time around instead of just making noises about running.

  114. I wish I felt as phlegmatic about a Hillary Clinton victory against Jeb Bush as you do, Scalzi, but I don’t – because there’s Not That Much Difference Between Them. It’ll be 2000 redux, far as I can tell – Hillary will re-tilt Right in the general (her natural leaning anyway, as de facto head of the Center-Right DLC!) just like Al Gore did then, the perception between her and Bush will be “There’s No Real Difference” (there is, but it’s largely because for all her many Center-Right sins, Hillary’s last name isn’t “Bush”!) – and between gerrymandering and Voter ID laws, the Dems will lose by the skin of their teeth…again. (PS: You’re wrong about any Republicans voting for Hillary – she’s even more loathed on the Right than she is on the Left, and that loathing down further to what passes for a “center” on the Right!)

    In the unlikely event it’s Hillary v. Trump, or even Bernie Sanders (my choice, because I think this country NEEDS a Palace Revolt!) v. Trump? Pass the popcorn, because Trump’s going down like The Hindenburg! :D

    I know it’s more about Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump – but since specifically taking issue to a point you made in your posting, I felt it was still germane….

  115. It has been said in various ways in this comment thread, but what this all boils down to is this: Trump is the modern GOP’s bastard child – he is what you get when you breed Sarah Palin and the tea party nutcases with the Reince Priebus and his UberEstablishment Rhetoric. The Donald is a Frankenstein’s monster comprised of both the dirty secrets and wet dreams of a Republican.

  116. Why the GOP hates Trump… He’s the deep dark Id of the party. He is saying out loud what they all say to each other in secret. The GOP has spent YEARS covering up that they hate minorities (to no real success), feel the rich are entitled to everything (secret Romney tape), and think we should rule the rest of the world (Just look at the anti-Iran deal insanity). Trump is loud and proud and saying what they’re all really feeling.

  117. I’ve moved past aghast in my reactions to Trump – he’s approaching hilarious now. Unfortunately I overheard a discussion in a doctor’s office recently between two elderly voters about the “Lord’s blessing” of having so many “God-fearing. good Christian men” running for the Republican ticket. Their favorites were Cruz and Trump. They just couldn’t believe how luck they were to have so many good options to chose from. It was about time this country got set right.

    Like, seriously? It scared me silly.

  118. For anyone doubting a Clinton general election win, you need to simply take a look at the Electoral College. That means picking up 65 electoral votes out of the states Obama carried in 2012. That means at a minimum, you need at least two of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Now, Florida was won by 1% and Ohio by 2% in 2012, so they are certainly swing states. Pennsylvania on the other hand was not only won by 6%, but it’s been trending bluer in the years since.

    Once you take out Pennsylvania, you need to find those 17 votes elsewhere. What’s possible? Well, Minnesota, Virginia, Michigan, and Wisconsin are all states that GOP strategists consider to be swing states. The problem is that while Obama only won Virginia 3%, the lowest margin in the next three he won by was almost 8%. Which still leaves you 4 votes down.

    Pretty much the only states that are left that aren’t solid blue with more than a 10% buffer are Colorado and Nevada. Nevada, thanks to a combination of Latino and organized labour support is a hard state to swing especially since the traditional GOP constituencies are more difficult to GOTV than in other states. Colorado was only taken by 5%, but it continues to turn more consistently blue over the years.

    So at a minimum, the GOP candidate needs to win the close states that Obama carried – all of them, and breakthrough in at least one state to reverse the last results by at least 6%. They also have to defend North Carolina, which is about as swing-like as Ohio. So when you’re looking at the odds, you need Clinton to under-perform nationally by at least 3-4% across the board to even hope to put enough places in play. It’s pretty unlikely.

  119. Absolutely, @Shayde and @harlequinnbell – which is why I’m comfortably certain even on the off-chance the John Bo-NER! Wing/”Reasonable Men” of the Republican Party can’t stop his ascension, he’ll crash&burn spectacularly in the General. I doubt seriously a single Republican will vote for Hillary Clinton (she’s too polarizing a figure), but I’ll bet a lot will stay home instead of voting for Trump, which will amount to the same thing….

    Strangely – I think Bernie Sanders has a better chance of picking up Republicans than Hillary does, because if the Right stops listening to “COMMIE! COMMIE!” from the Right Wing Hate-O-Sphere for a moment, they realize they support most of what he does. And that “gun issue” Hillary’s surrogates are using to dissuade Fine Liberals away from Sanders? Would be like catnip to most on the Right….

  120. When I started reading your blog 6 or 7 years ago I was a dyed in the wool drudgereport reading Republican for life.

    A lot has changed in the years. I have actually not been on drudgereport in 31 months. I have really sat back and tried to be open minded.

    Today I am looking forward to voting for the democratic nominee in November 16. I hope it is Bernie Sanders.

    The fact that Donald Trump is treated seriously by the GOP shows how completely out of touch they are!

  121. “While it’s a quantum physics universe and anything can happen, realistically, this is how it’s going to go down.” — I’m a Quantum Mechanic, who has been elected Town Councilman in two different states, and I play one on TV. So (hope this is on-topic enough):
    .
    .
    Metasonnet: “Trump Sounds”
    by Jonathan Vos Post
    .
    Diamond DONKEY
    meets Rhinestone RINO,
    on my shoulder, a monkey,
    devolving with a DINO —
    Elephant’s Memory — Is Dumbo a wino?
    .
    “Feckless Blowhard”
    meets reckless wrecker
    The Wrecking Ball was barred,
    fork-tongued,
    and double-decker
    .
    Like Olympics, each four years
    dimwits and limpdicks
    weep crocodile tears —
    the Press takes a picnic
    .
    ==================
    1:36 p.m.
    Saturday 25 July 2015
    ==========
    2 Tankas + 1 Quatrain = 1 Sonnet
    ==========
    =================================

  122. @timeliebe You seriously don’t think that there would be a substantial difference between a SC justice about by Jeb and one appointed by Hilary? Because that’s the bottom line. In the end, that’s the single thing that matters the most in presidential politics, the ability to appoint SC justices and fix the direction of the country for the next 20 years. One more conservative justice on this court and we’re well and truly screwed.

  123. Well one thing is for sure the Demoncrats want the Republicnotcans to pick Trump, because its pretty much the only way to get old lady Hillary elected. Either way we are in for a HEAP of trouble from 2017-2021.

    However…I’m not sure its fair to write Trump off. I’m hearing personally some ground swell that perhaps…PERHAPS..he’s not as nuts as he sounds. Mind you I live in the Demoncratic State of Massachusetts. To hear buzz like that about a Republicnotcan is interesting to say the least.

    Personally I’m waiting for a good independent to arise so at least I can figure out who to throw my vote away on, since all choices in the standard parties are BAD at the moment.

  124. Once you take out Pennsylvania, you need to find those 17 votes elsewhere. What’s possible? Well, Minnesota, Virginia, Michigan, and Wisconsin are all states that GOP strategists consider to be swing states. The problem is that while Obama only won Virginia 3%, the lowest margin in the next three he won by was almost 8%. Which still leaves you 4 votes down.

    Pretty much the only states that are left that aren’t solid blue with more than a 10% buffer are Colorado and Nevada.

    Piffle. A GOP nominee winning all of Romney’s states plus Ohio and Florida is at 253 electoral votes. Add Virginia (Obama margin +3 in 2012) and they’re at 266, four short. Then there are multiple plausible ways to win: NH (+6 O in 2012), Colorado (+5 O in 2012), Iowa (+6 O in 2012), Wisconsin (+7 O in 2012), Nevada (+7 O in 2012). I cut things off at +7 because if the swing is bigger than that, it doesn’t matter whether Minnesota goes red.

    That’s doable, especially given the tendency of parties to lose the White House after their second term of holding it (1960, 1968, 1976, 2000, 2008). Don’t get cocky.

  125. Donald Trump will never, ever be president.

    I dunno, maybe it’s just the PTSD talking, but I seem to recall comments of that nature back in ’00. “Him? Win?? Naaah, never happen.”

  126. @rochrist – my Fine Neoliberal Friends throw that excuse at me constantly: “THINK OF THE SUPREME COURT!” I do – and I see President Jeb Bush screwing us over more….

    Hillary Clinton is not trusted by anybody other than hardcore Democrats, who’ve been beaten down by the DLC NeoLibs (which the Clintons, and Al Gore, are founding members of – and lost us The White House in 2000 to The War Criminal Bush Regime!) for so long that they’ll take not walking around in public with a swastika armband* as a sign they’re “A Good Liberal – No, Really!” “She’s better than any Republican, but given even the most “reasonable” member of That August Assemblage of Clowns is likely as big a sociopath as the rest, that’s not saying much, is it?

    As for President Hillary Clinton, should it happen? I don’t trust her to pick any Supreme Court nominee who Wall Street doesn’t approve of, completely – he and Chief Justice Roberts will get on like winking, I am certain.

    —-
    * – That is an exaggeration for effect – so don’t wave The Right’s Official Excuse, Godwin’s Law, in my face, okay? Because to my mind, ALL Republicans any more are Nazis, full stop.

  127. PS: Sorry – I just went ‘way off topic, didn’t I?

    Scalzi, feel free to delete my last comment – it’s not germane to the discussion at hand, and I apologize for hijacking the thread…..

  128. Hillary might pick corporate stooge SC judges, but she’s not going to unleash Scalia/Thomas horror upon us. Which, as a female person, is really kinda super-important to me. She’s also not all evangelical yay Jesus like too many of the GOP. Again, good enough if we can’t get Bernie.

  129. Tronald Dump doesn’t want to be President, if it looks close he will figure a way out of it. There will be no 3rd party bid. Meanwhile he is saying what a substantial number of Republicans believe but saying it in plain English instead of the more popular dog whistles.

  130. I put my faith in what I call “The Resume Theory” (or “CV” to some of you Europeans). Since 1932, every elected President has at least one of the following job titles on their resume:

    US Vice President
    US Senator
    Governor (chief executive of a US State)
    Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (*in a civilization-defining war)

    Even the losing major party nominees conform to The Resume Theory, with one exception. The only major party nominee in those 80+ years who lacked one of those titles was Republican nominee Wendell Willkie in 1940, whom Wikipedia describes as a “maverick businessman.” I suppose that could bear some resemblance to Trump?

    (*shudder*)

    But I argue that energy and attention directed to candidates who are businesspeople, or US House members (the US House is the “lower” chamber), is ultimately wasted.

  131. Trump’s turn as the putative GOP frontrunner, like Herman Cain’s four years ago, hurts the credibility of the US on the world stage, even when he doesn’t ultimately win out. We’re getting harder to take seriously because we run the world’s most important government like it’s a clown show. Then, the disloyal opposition, name-calling, gerrymandering, and lying in congress? An advertisement for the advantages of democracy, we have not been.

  132. I put my faith in what I call “The Resume Theory” (or “CV” to some of you Europeans). Since 1932, every elected President has at least one of the following job titles on their resume…

    The problem about reasoning from history like that is that you are doing it with far too small a sample size. Since 1932 only 12 men have been elected president at all. And if you go back just one election before 1932 (because there’s no reason to pick that as a cutoff) you get Hoover, who had never been a governor, a senator, a vice-president or a general. (Though Hoover was a genius engineer and immensely successful relief administrator, while Trump is a posturing bankrupt.)

  133. Well, the Trump/Daily Beast/Attorney Cohen is re-surfacing in the media

    And so it should, if Donald Trump seriously wants to be President of the United States and incidentally appoint the next Attorney-General, a whole Cabinet and thousands of sub-cabinet posts, federal judgeships and whatever Supreme Court vacancies occur on his watch… then it would be really nice if he hired an attorney who knows that spousal rape is so illegal in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and all territories and dependencies of the United States.

  134. Jonathan Laden is bang on the money. It’s not Trump so much as what he represents: we are the wealthiest, heavily militarized country in the world and we are profoundly unserious about government. And we poke our noses into other countries’ affairs because we’re “the indispensable nation”. Even if Trump gets 14 votes in total during the primaries, what about Huckabee’s comments on the weekend? And the fact that we the voters put up with it – making comments about getting out the popcorn for the show – shows how unserious we are as citizens. I used to think it was all funny too but increasingly I am worried about the future. We can’t coast along like this forever.

  135. My dad said similar things when I was home on vacation a week or two ago.

    And on the one hand, both of you make good arguments and I’d like to believe you’re right.

    On the other hand, we’re the nation that made 50 Shades of Grey a multi-million-dollar bestseller.

  136. Donald Trump? I loathed him even before he made those comments about Mexicans.

    He’s got no chance in the general but it would be completely hilarious if he got nominated and then was eaten alive by every Hispanic person in the United States voting Democrat.

  137. The problem about reasoning from history like that is that you are doing it with far too small a sample size.

    Well…yes…they were. But in their defense, there’s no sample size of US Presidents large enough really to draw generalizable conclusions.

  138. Piffle. A GOP nominee winning all of Romney’s states plus Ohio and Florida is at 253 electoral votes. Add Virginia (Obama margin +3 in 2012) and they’re at 266, four short. Then there are multiple plausible ways to win: NH (+6 O in 2012), Colorado (+5 O in 2012), Iowa (+6 O in 2012), Wisconsin (+7 O in 2012), Nevada (+7 O in 2012). I cut things off at +7 because if the swing is bigger than that, it doesn’t matter whether Minnesota goes red.

    That’s doable, especially given the tendency of parties to lose the White House after their second term of holding it (1960, 1968, 1976, 2000, 2008). Don’t get cocky.

    David,

    You do realize that the 5-7% swings all in the favour of the GOP is an immensely high target? We’re talking a McGovern like collapse in the campaign for that to happen. For the GOP to win, everything has to break right for them with an electorate that is increasingly trending in their opponents favour. Take the swingingest of the swing states: Virginia, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina. If the Democrats win just one of them and only hold the states they won by +5% or more in 2012, they take the Presidency. That’s a lot more likely than a wave of which there isn’t a structural likelihood at this point of happening.

  139. You do realize that the 5-7% swings all in the favour of the GOP is an immensely high target?

    Actually, it’s not. I went and checked the variation in national GOP vote percentage in every presidential election pair (1944-48, 1948-52, etc) from World War II to the present,* and in 11 of 17 there were shifts of 5% or greater. The average variation of GOP vote share from one election to the next was 7%, in fact. So, no, that kind of shift is not even remotely unusual.**

    Three problems with the analysis: it includes shifts against the GOP as well as in favor, it includes elections with 3rd party candidates in it, and it’s at the national not state level. But even allowing for those problems, the tendency to have a substantial vote shift is so overwhelming that it’s clear that it’s NOT an “immensely high target” for the GOP to do much better in 2016 than they did in 2012.

    *data here: http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/
    **math not guaranteed.

  140. @aj @12:22 yesterday: Herbert Hoover, who does not fit my Resume Theory, still had experience at the highest level of Federal executive power, as he was Secretary of Commerce during the 1920’s economic boom.

    On my resume theory — before Herbert Hoover, the string of presidents who were Vice Presidents, Senators or Governors continues unbroken until we get to James Garfield (elected from the US House) in 1880. But in the years before the Great Depression, losing major-party nominees often did not conform to the Resume Theory. One also finds judges, and I’m not sure how to classify William Jennings Bryan, who was nominated twice.

    Maybe Bryan was another shouty guy (“You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!” in reference to monetary policy. Oh, and he was against evolution, too. :–) ) thrown up in a period of economic turmoil for the common man. Maybe Bryan resembles Trump and some of the other Republicans. I’m just speculating here.

  141. I AM POSTING FROM THE FUTURE>>> PRESIDENT TRUMP ELECTED FOR SECOND TERM>>>>> WHITE HOUSE NOW GOLD PLATED>>> SUPREME COURT FIRED>>>>> THOSE MAKING FUN OF HIS HAIR NOW SUMMARILY EXECUTED>>>>> ISRAEL OFFICIALLY MOVED TO MIAMI AND RENAMED TRUMP ISRAEL>>> WARN EVERYONE!!!!

  142. And what’s going to happen is that the GOP primary voters will eventually settle down and vote for Jeb Bush (or maaaaaybe Scott Walker), who will go on to be defeated by Hillary Clinton in the general election. While it’s a quantum physics universe and anything can happen, realistically, this is how it’s going to go down.

    M’kay. A mere four months ago, every pundit and pollster on the planet — and I mean EVERYONE — was confidently predicting that “realistically” the odds of the Conservative Party not only winning a second term, but securing a workable majority of the Commons in the process, was zero.

    You’re absolutely right that a week is a long time in politics — and fifteen months is an eternity. But in politics, actual voters don’t always do what the pundits think they should. (Remember when George W. Bush was an moron whose daddy’s name wouldn’t get him as far as Super Tuesday? How did that work out for everyone?)

  143. I occasionally point my browser at some conservative leaning sites (just to keep tabs on the opposition) and what I’m seeing there is a big FU to the more moderate Republicans who point out that Trump is a clown. There’s an overwhelming surge of comments to the effect that Trump is an antidote to the RINOs. They don’t care if he’s electable – they feel he’s speaking truth.

    In short, it’s similar to how some on the left viewed Nader in 2000.

  144. Trump’s always been his own walking id — now he’s the Republicans’ walking id, which accounts for his popularity with the low-info types and hatred by the party apparatchiks who have some common sense. Priebus must be keeping Pepto-Bismol in business the past month.

    @isabelcooper: to be fair, EVERY English-speaking country bought 50SOG in yooge* quantities.

    *we’re talking about Trump. you have to say “huge” that way. YOOJ.

  145. The point about the UK Conservative Party is well made. What got discounted by virtually everyone was that deep down a lot of people really like being racist and sexist, and although they would never admit it to a pollster they were prepared to admit it in secret (I keep telling myself this is a feature, not a bug) on the ballot. With that experience, I don’t think Trump is as much an outsider as we’d all like to think. His brand of crazy speaks towards the angry white guy demographic, and we know it is all hopped up right now.

  146. @crypticmirror,

    But the angry white guy demographic probably won’t put any of the GOP candidates, including Trump, in the White House. There are also angry black, Latino, Asian, women, etc. voters who will be coming out in force in November 2016 to vote — most for the Democratic candidate. I believe McCain and Romney won over 60% of the white male vote even while President Obama beat both handily.

  147. @Crypticmirror:

    What got discounted by virtually everyone was that deep down a lot of people really like being racist and sexist, and although they would never admit it to a pollster they were prepared to admit it in secret (I keep telling myself this is a feature, not a bug) on the ballot.

    I think the reasons why the pollsters and pundits got the UK general so horribly, splendidly wrong is a lot more complicated than that. (Everyone picked Scotland was going to be a bloodbath for Labour and the LibDems, but even SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was talking down the BBC’s initial exit poll.) But I’ll leave it there least I awaken the Mallet of What Part of Stay On Topic Was Hard To Understand?

    I just wouldn’t share our host’s confidence that “realistically” we should write Trump off quite yet, let alone assume Hillary Clinton’s road to White House is all but a done deal. I vaguely recall eight years ago an awful lot of people were dismissing the junior senator from Illinois as a personable but inexperienced lightweight Clinton would roll over without breaking a sweat.

  148. @Lurkertype: That’s true. Perhaps despair about humanity in general is more in order.

    (I associate YOOJ more with Jed Bartlett, a far better if fictional politician, so this makes me sad. But is true.)

    What worries me about the angry white guy demographic, honestly, is that it tends not to accept defeat graciously. Or even non-fatally in many instances.

  149. People come out and vote is much larger numbers in a Presidential election than in the interim elections. Which is why Ted Cruz can be a Senator, but Trump can’t be President.

  150. As you pointed out the odds of winning for the Republican’s in ’16 are not the greatest and they’ve been getting pulled more and more by the extremists to positions that are not compatible with the changing demographics of the country. They are doomed to become more and more irrelevant on a national scale (though they may still do adequately at local and state levels) unless they are able to stop alienating non-white voters. The core fiscal policies that the party pushes are appealing to American entrepreneurship and the dream that their hard work can bring success that many immigrants come to the US for.

    In some odd ways Donald Trump running third party in 2016 might honestly help the Republican party in the long run (assuming that they actually can about face enough to have a long run). It offers the ‘establishment’ and fiscal conservative an ability to shift the party back towards the mainstream away from the racially and religiously motivated extremists and gives Republican’s a Ralph Nader-esque example of why breaking from the party is harmful (I know that Nader didn’t actually impact things that much, but it never stopped him from being a useful cudgel against the hippies).

  151. @Fran_K: Oh, I think Trump is a complete no-hoper to get the nomination. I think it’s 50/50 whether he even stays in until the first primaries. The GOP is crazy, but it’s not (yet) that crazy.

    However, it’s a very crowded field. Some of the lesser-known candidates are less obviously ridiculous than Trump, but just as extreme, deranged and generally terrifying. I wouldn’t exclude the possibility that one of them (eg. Ted Cruz) might elbow Jeb aside and seize the nomination.

  152. 2017: Putin points at Trump’s hairpiece, yells “You’re disgusting; you’re disgusting; you’re disgusting,” and runs out of the room. Completely as an ironic bit of performance art, you understand; I mean, we’ve seen Vlad on the bear.

  153. I see the Donald and Putin becoming the best of friends, hot tubbing together, and opening Trump Casino Moscow in 2018.

  154. As a fairly consistent conservative voter, in a general election featuring Hillary Clinton v Donald Trump, I will be grateful for the fact that I live in a district that voted 78% democrat in the last election for the simple fact that my refusal to cast a vote won’t effect anything. I wouldn’t pull the ballot for Donald Trump if he were running against Adolf Hitler. I’d just stay home.

    A lot of non-partisan conservative voters are going to do just that, regardless of who the Republicans nominate. Its not a strong field, and a lot of us are just apathetic about it. I’ll vote in my local elections, but I have no interest in choosing between the lesser of two distasteful choices. Like I said, in a district so solidly democratic, my vote won’t matter anyway.

  155. and of course, the Conventional Wisdom is that they’ll put another liar in the White House, right? Your predictions about Hillary Clinton do not bode well for this country. She let 4 men die, she’s lied, she’s played dirty politics, and she’s refused to accept responsibility for decisions that were HERS to make. So, the apologists can say, “Well, XXXXX did the same thing.” Maybe so, but if it was wrong for XXXXX to do it, then how is it right for Hillary Clinton to do it? Sorry everyone on this board seems to have animosity toward the GOP. Well, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t make it truth. I wouldn’t vote for Jeb Bush, the same as some people have commented that they wouldn’t pull the lever for Trump if he were running against Adolf Hitler (very nice analogy, and very naive thinking – Trump didn’t murder 6 million innocent people in concentration camps, either). Well, this was my opinion, and it’s not a popular one, but then, so what?

  156. fuzznose, you wouldn’t vote for Jeb Bush (and I agree with you about the other commenter’s figure of speech). Would you vote for Trump?

  157. I’m ecstatic Trump is running and appearing to be a little more than a summer fling, might even extend till Thanksgiving (or Christmas). The GOP’s insistence on divisiness and fostering a culture of ignorance (see climate change, evolution, separation of church and state, the Iran Deal (not even reading it before critisizing it), etc) has finally gotten out of control. It’s like someone said earlier about needing to hit rock bottom. Hopefully it’s a wake-up call to make some of them actually interested in governing the country.

    Side note, recent national polls have been showing Bernie beating Trump and Bush in the election, with him and Walker being 47/48 or 48/47 based on which poll, so we can dispel the myth for now that Bernie has no chance there!

  158. A comment from another forum sums it up better than I can:
    Can someone run the polling to see how bad Scrooge McDuck would kick Donald Trump’s ass in a 2016 matchup?
    McDuck 2016: If we’re going to be governed by a cartoon character, then we better do it right.

  159. there’s no sample size of US Presidents large enough really to draw generalizable conclusions.

    And the most statistically robust conclusion you can draw from history is that it is impossible for a woman to be president. Because 44 out of 44 presidents have been of the blokely persuasion. (AND all their vice-presidents.)

    The point about the UK Conservative Party is well made. What got discounted by virtually everyone was that deep down a lot of people really like being racist and sexist, and although they would never admit it to a pollster they were prepared to admit it in secret (I keep telling myself this is a feature, not a bug) on the ballot.

    Is this relating to the UK elections? Because I am not sure that there was a huge quiet anti-Semitic vote out there costing Ed Miliband the election; and the surprise winners, remember, were the SNP, whose leader is a woman.

  160. Remember when George W. Bush was an moron whose daddy’s name wouldn’t get him as far as Super Tuesday? How did that work out for everyone?

    No, I don’t, actually. I remember him being the popular governor of one of the largest states in the US during an economic boom. I remember him being in the lead early on, and staying in the lead pretty much throughout (though McCain took the New Hampshire primary off him).

    Who do you remember as being the serious candidates, apart from McCain, if everyone was dismissing Bush? (I don’t remember anyone at all dismissing Bush. Saying he was an idiot, yes.)

  161. Peter Sagal of NPR said yesterday the he’s noticed the other Republican cndidates are trying to out-stupid Trump. But that’s like trying to out-sink the Titanic.

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