The Trump phenomenon has basically taken over here. It’s quite fascinating. In anticipation of a lull in quantitative material related to the presidential campaign over the next couple of months, here are a few general thoughts:
– In the debates Trump will be playing with house money.
Primary turnout has been record-setting on the Republican side. Even so, much less than half the people who will end up voting for Trump in November will have voted in a primary or caucus. On the Democrat side, where turnout has been depressed everywhere, primary participants will comprise less than one-third of the general election votes received.
Most general election voters are not engaged in nomination processes of either major party. Their perception of Trump the candidate is largely based on second-hand sources, and many of them probably expect him to look like this throughout the duration of the debates. At worst, he’ll come out in as good of shape as he goes into a debate in.
With a little prep work and his effortless knack for maintaining frame control, he could turn these things into two hour exposes on Hillary’s rape enabling, lying, corruption, assisting homicide, destroying Europe, etc. Whenever she launches into her stock response to accusation X, Trump jumps to accusation Y. The material he has to work with is endless. It will exhaust her. And as Trump well knows, she’s vulnerable to this kind of exhaustion.
Hillary, in contrast, is a known political entity. Her objective will merely be to survive the debates.
– My brother casually described himself as a Trump Republican the other day when an acquaintance asked about his political views.
He nailed it. Branding is important. That description is perfectly elegant. It’s unapologetic without coming off as unnecessarily antagonistic towards Republicans whose top choice wasn’t Trump. It gels well with the phrase it will be most frequently compared to.
– Trump has the potential to win the white vote even more overwhelmingly than Reagan did in ’84.
Hillary’s top two policy priorities are about as unpopular with working- and middle-class whites as any two could be: Gun control and amnesty.
To make this a reality, the following suggestions: Jim Webb, Jeff Sessions, or Kris Kobach as VP, a cabinet or department head position offered to Sanders, and of course continuing to vigorously stir the pot of Sanders supporters’ frustration with Clintonian inevitability:
No sobriquet for Sanders, nor should there be.
– There is more egg for the pundits’ faces yet. Nate Silver, who has botched the entire Republican presidential nomination process from the beginning, still can’t help himself, asserting that Trump will be a probable loser in November.
Technically speaking, that’s true, but Silver doesn’t provide much relevant context. The markets have Trump’s odds at a little better than 1:2, or about what the Broncos’ were going into Super Bowl 50. A Trump triumph should be, by this calculation, about as surprising as Denver’s was, which is to say not at all shocking.
Silver is an augur whose divination is determined by Big Data entrails. His readings have regularly been off the mark over the last several months.
That’s bad, but at least he should be trying. When it comes to generally perspicacious people for whom this is not an area of focus, the sloppy prognostications amount to silly unforced errors. Here’s Razib Khan embracing ignorance and then, well, offering it. Just ahead of New Hampshire, he wrote:
Since I don’t like to spend time on useless things, I’ve been following the primary race very superficially (sometimes to the extent of asking my labmate every few days what’s going on). But I’d say go long on Rubio. Those following closely freak out too much over debates.
Rubio ended up managing just Puerto Rico, Minnesota, and Washington DC before dropping out a month later.
Razib is a polymath. He has a higher IQ than I do. But there are things he is ignorant of. Primary voters weren’t going to bail on Trump or Cruz in favor of Mr. Amnesty. That was clear.