Friday, August 5, 2016

Yes Party Unity Matters: No, Donald Trump Hasn't Rewritten Any Rules

The pundits really get under my skin. In the primary they assumed Trump just couldn't possibly win. Nate Silver assigned it some very small possibility. All we heard was 'It's early, and remember Rick Perry and Herman Cain.'

Harry Enten at least admits it.

"In trying to predict the primaries, I made the fatal flaw of believing GOP voters weren't suicidal. I was wrong."

This was the flaw of most pundits including alleged political scientists like Enten, Nate Silver, Nate Cohn, etc. They insisted on believing the GOP is a normal party. 

Yet once we've hit the general, many of these same pundits who said Donald Trump simply wouldn't win the primary have insisted that he's just a normal Republican candidate. 

Whenever he again commits some huge boner, we hear 'Well, Trump has rewritten all the rules, so this won't matter.'

They still assume because the GOP voters chose Trump then he must be normal. After Trump's disastrous convention-most memorable moment being the Ted Cruz snub-we heard 'Well, party unity doesn't matter for Trump.'

Then we saw this weeks polling. 

"Jonathan Bernstein: “In a normal election when both parties are united behind their nominee, voters will hear one message for months: that people like themselves, including the politicians they like, are supporting one candidate, while people they normally dislike or disagree with are backing the other one. Whether voters consider themselves partisans or not, that message pushes them in the ‘correct’ direction — to the candidate of the party they normally support.”
“Conventions are especially powerful in sending such signals because they dominate the news for a few days at least, drowning out the voices of the opposing party.   Even after the convention, that message can be strong — if the party is united, that is. The muddier things are, however, the less likely voters will be pushed in the ‘correct’ direction.”
“This is probably a big part of what has given Clinton a solid lead in the polls right now. The Democrats are united and sound united, while Republicans clearly are not.”
Bernstein was wrong about Trump in the primary too. I'd argued with him on Twitter. His response was that history said Trump wouldn't win. I said, this was an unusual party in an unusual year. He ignored this. 
When I mentioned this to him recently he conveniently forgot our Twitter conversation but admitted he was wrong. 
But at least he's not compounding underestimating Trump in the primary with overestimating him in the general as so many pundits are doing. 
Noah Rothman also gets me going as it shows the Beltway refuses to learn:
"The "binders" reflex illustrates what a horrible campaign Clinton is running. Winning by default."

Apparently a Romney reference is some terrible thing to tweet.

"But you see how the media still refuses to admit it's wrong about Hillary? They still tell us she's a flawed candidate. When the polls are bad for her, it's because she's a flawed candidate. When they're good for her, it's just that she's a flawed candidate who got lucky."

"Ezra Klein is the one Hillary basher who has at least admitted he was wrong about her. She is not a bad candidate in the least. She's a very good one."

This is a rare insight for Klein among Beltway pundits. Most assume she's not a good politician. That's because, as Klein notes, there are three aspects to being a good politician:

1. Communication-in other words speechifying.

2. Listening

3. Coalition building,

In the post McGovern world where candidates are selected via primaries rather than party insiders, the focus has been mostly on 1. But where Hillary excels is in 2 and 3. Listening in particular is underrated. If you have a lot to say you need someone who wants to listen.

This is a traditionally female strength, to be sure.

Most of the media though evaluates her on 1 alone.

Think about it. How do you square the theory that Hillary is a bad politician with her level of electoral success?

Think about it. She won her race against Rick Lazio by 12 points. Of course, the media spun this as she was lucky not to face Giuliani. Giuliani for his part was too damaged politically to run so how do you work this out?

She won an even bigger landslide in 2006. Obama is rightly seen as a once in lifetime political talent. Yet she pushed him to the absolute brink, getting more popular votes than he did with over 18 million.

Then she beat back a very tough challenge from the populist Left. She beat Bernie by double digits and 4 million votes. But the pundits act as if she should have won it by three times this amount and that she didn't proves 'she's a fatally flawed candidate.'

If you're fatally flawed, you lose. So that's logically absurd.

Which Establishment Center Left Democrat would have done better than she did vs. Bernie? Her margin was actually as strong as any for a Democratic primary winner since 1980.

I don't think Bernie Sanders was an easy opponent at all for an Establishment candidate. She isn't given the credit she deserves for defeating him so handily.

The populist Left was determined to make itself known in 2016. That this was going to be the case was clear since 2011 if you read Jane Hamsher's now defunct website, Firedoglake.

Now she's beating Trump in an average at least in the high single digits. But any other GOPer would have crushed her, we hear.

Like who? Ted Cruz? Ok, not Ted Cruz? Jeb? Jeb can't even explain what his last name is.

Marco Rubio? I think he is the one the Beltway press was always in love with. Just as much as they think Hillary is a bad candidate, they think Marco Rubio is a good candidate.

This again, shows their gendered biases and preferences in terms of what a politician should sound like.

When Donald Trump said HRC would be at 5 percent if she were a man, many in the Beltway press act as if they believe the same thing.

But look at Hillary's performance in 2016 and compare it to Little Marco's.

Remember his robotic meltdown in NH, his absurd attempts to out Trump Donald Trump in February, his loss of his own home state by almost 20 points in March.

Compare his results with Hillary's. Compare his attempts to attack Donald Trump to her's. And explain to me how he's the great politician and she's the fatally flawed one.

In truth Little Marco is the beneficiary of male affirmative action-the same that has given us no female Presidents till now.

What it comes down to is the media was dead wrong about the relative strengths of Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton.

It's amazing that despite his failure and her success, they have not adjusted their views one iota.

Get out of my head, Greg Sargent:

"The fantasy that Hillary would be easy to beat if only Rs weren't stuck with Trump is getting heavily indulged today."


  1. You might like this:

    What Trump is doing is destroying the very foundations of the GOP as a political party. Trump's loss will not occur in a vacuum. Governors, county supervisors, mayors, state senators and delegates are going to be hit hard. That wouldn't be a 100% bad thing if he were actually building something to replace it. But he's not. He's simply destroying a party for the sake of his narcissism.

  2. When you start seeing him trailing by at least high single digits as the averages show right now, this is the level where you could start to worry about the House if you're the GOP

    1. If, as streiff writes, Trump is "simply destroying a party for the sake of his narcissism" then what are his supporters doing for? Vicarious narcissism? What tools!

  3. Right. That's the other side of it that Streiff and friends can't deal with. The 14 million people who voted for him