Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Can Trump Win? We Don't Know

After pretty well clearing the board on Super Tuesday, Donald Trump will have to be the nominee of the Republican Party. Or else mayhem.

It does no good for Jim Geraghty to assert, in his daily email, that the GOP cannot be unified under Trump. That is what people always say at this stage of the game.

But that is why we have elections and conventions and speeches and all the froo-fra of politics. At the end of the process you have a winner, validated by the process.

It is time to stop worrying about who wins the nomination. It is time to start thinking about who wins the election.

On the one hand the polls tell us that Trump has big negatives. On the other hand we have people like the American Spectator's George Neumayr walking around New York City and finding that a lot of people you would think of as Democrats find him interesting.
A black man walking his daughter to school came over to me one morning and asked, “Where can I get that hat?” He was eager to pick one up and vote for Trump. He explained that he doesn’t typically vote Republican but liked Trump for his crafty business sense.
Trump's signature issues are immigration and trade. The Democrats like to frame immigration as a race issue: you are a racist if you oppose immigration. But any fool can see that immigration is an issue that divides voters mainly down the line of whether you have family that wants to immigrate. If your family has all immigrated then you probably think that immigrants compete for your job. If you still have family waiting for green cards then you want more immigration.

Up to now Democrats have framed immigration as a race issue. No doubt Trump will try to frame it as a jobs issue. He might also successfully frame illegal immigration as a rule of law issue.

Trade is probably a wash. Both Trump and the Democratic nominee will be against free trade, because as everyone knows, free trade outsources jobs to China.

The thing is that Donald Trump, because he is a celebrity, has a better chance to define himself for the election than any recent GOP presidential nominee. And he is pretty aggressive about defining himself. I suspect that Hillary Clinton will find it difficult to deal with him.

For instance, if I were Donald Trump I would say, every day from now to the election, that I couldn't understand any president doing a dumb thing like setting up my own email server. Anyone that knows anything about computers knows that a private email server is an open invitation to hackers. And I'd say that I couldn't understand anyone that would come up with such a tawdry lie over Benghazi. In other words I would be raising the issue that Hillary Clinton just doesn't love America.

But one thing is clear. Win or lose, Donald Trump has changed the Republican Party forever. That is the real beef of the #NeverTrump folks at National Review and the business and political elite at Sea Island. If Trump is nominated, and especially if he wins in November, the parties will have been shuffled from the 50-50 red-state blue-state standoff of the last two decades.

The point is that every ruling class like stability. They like to be able to control events and deal with the same people and manipulate the same political dials and levers. But every few years the old order gets shuffled. And obviously any shuffle means that the current ruling class is going to take a hit.

That's where we are in 2016 and nobody knows what will wash out in November.

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