After an election season in which nothing they predicted came true — their confidence that Donald Trump would never be the Republican nominee comes to mind — you’d think our losing-streak corporate pundits would be reluctant to underestimate Trump’s chance of winning the presidency in November.
Alas, there is no limit to the willfully oblivious hubris of the barking dogs of the political class. Despite last week’s cataclysm the airwaves and opinion pages are still dominated by the smug meme that It Can’t Happen Here.
Never mind that half of that It, Trump’s capture of the nomination, has Happened. But this is where Trump’s juggernaut stops, say the center-right prognosticators. Polls show him losing to Hillary Clinton by 14% — er, now it’s 2%. But still.
Trump’s disapproval ratings are as big as his ego. Women hate the guy. So do Latinos; Republicans can’t win without them. Trump, they assure, has a ceiling: 45%. No way no how will more than 45% of Americans vote for him. (Remember when the same folks told us his ceiling was 30% — of Republicans?) He’s a guaranteed loosah.
If Hillary Clinton prevails over Bernie Sanders and the Department of Justice to become the Democratic standard-bearer, she’ll be welcomed as a liberator against Trump, Democratic leaders say. Most GOP insiders say/fear the same thing: she’ll win by a landslide.
I wouldn’t be so sure.
There are plenty of good reasons to believe that Trump will defeat the former secretary of state.
Before we list them, please bear in mind something no one talks about: what an amazing candidate Trump has proven to be. Not only does Trump have no political experience, this is his first run for president, or for any elected office. For a novice to win a major party nomination on his first time out, spending hardly any of his own money, is a triumph, a trifecta without historical precedent. (True, there was Eisenhower. But Ike was the supreme commander of Allied forces during World War II, and president of Columbia University. Those were essentially political positions.) With Trump, we are in uncharted territory. The man is a beast.
Now for the factors that run counter to the widely accepted Hillary-is-a-shoo-in narrative.
First, Hillary is a weak candidate.
Her negatives are nearly as high as Trump’s. A recent poll shows her even or losing against Trump in key battleground states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. The liberal base of the Democratic Party, which mostly supports Bernie Sanders, is not at all Ready for Hillary. If the Bernie or Bust movement convinces even a few percentage points worth of Dems to stay home, write in Bernie’s name or vote for Jill Stein, that shortfall of support could be enough to throw the race The Donald’s way. If anything, Hillary is the one with a ceiling: she’s been in public life so long that it’s hard to believe that anyone who doesn’t like her now will find a reason to do so in the next six months. Politically, we’re just getting to know Trump.
Also, Americans’ hardwired historical amnesia is tailor-made for Trump.
His insane pronouncements would sink a conventional candidate. But when his racist or idiotic statements stir controversy, he doesn’t apologize: he denies that he ever said them. Then he doubles down. He constantly contradicts himself, sometimes in the same speech. This drives the media crazy. But it doesn’t touch Teflon Don. Thanks to Ronald Reagan and his ideological progeny, we’re living at a time when we choose our own facts along with our opinions — and no one is held accountable for their broken promises, hypocrisies or flip-flops. The past? Even when it isn’t past, even in real time, the past so doesn’t matter. As a conventional politician, Hillary will be forced to defend herself and her long record in public service from Trump’s attacks. Because he has no such record, and the record he does have is something he’ll just lie about — and voters will be perfectly fine with it — she can’t go after him the same way.
Because GOP campaigning is so much more effective, Democratic presidential candidates need to be at least 10% ahead of Republicans in August in order to win in November. Trump and Clinton are single digits apart, and it’s only May. Just wait until the zillions of GOP attack ads do their thing.
Trump’s Republican Party may not be as unified as they would like. But it will be unified enough to beat Hillary. Because she’s unwilling to make the policy and personnel concessions necessary to bring Sanders’ supporters into her fold — $15/hour minimum wage, offer Sanders veep — she’ll never be able to recover from the bruising primaries. Her party will be the more fractured one.
Trump is also in the unique position of being positioned to attack her from both the left and the right. He’ll go after her as a warmonger and a free trader and fiscally irresponsible and corrupt. As we’ve seen in the primaries, he has an uncanny ability to hone in on his rivals’ Achilles’ heels. Then he kicks them until they fall.
In the end, Hillary’s biggest liability may be overconfidence. She clearly doesn’t think much of Trump’s intellect, his political acumen or his campaign chops. Big mistake. This guy is many things, some of them very bad. But he is not stupid. Donald Trump is one of the most formidable politicians of our lifetimes. He can win.
(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography Trump, comes out July 19th.)
I really think the man to watch is Gary Johnson.15% polling puts him in the debates and a alternative to all the people holding unfavorable for the other two.
Now how is this for the year when “it can’t happen here”…
No majority, goes to house, and their majority party leader (guess who!) is elected !…LOL
Not sure if that is even legally possible?LOL
No one can become a billionaire (if, in fact, Herr Hair is one) without first being a true politician, with or without a resume including having held an elected office.
There are some registered-Democrat Sanders supporters who would have never voted for the Generalisssima (HRC) even in the absence of Sanders. They were delighted with Obumma’ in 2008 (then “Obama”) as an alternative to the Clinton family brand of political abuse.
By 2012, with the catalyst of the Obama > Obumma’ transition, they had, finally, overcome the idiocy of lesser-evil political thinking/voting.
Heil Herr Hair !!!
(No, I did NOT say I support Trump. )
Hubris is the word for them all right. Lightweights is another. XD
“What an amazing candidate Trump has proven to be.” “But he is not stupid. Donald Trump is one of the most formidable politicians of our lifetimes.” See, CH? Ted can admit this. Why can’t you? Oh, right, because you lack his honesty.
“Hillary’s biggest liability may be overconfidence. She clearly doesn’t think much of Trump’s intellect, his political acumen or his campaign chops.” And again Hitlery proves Ted right in calling her stupid.
What – exactly – am I admitting, oh paragon of honesty?
That the billionaire con man has convinced a bunch of suckers to vote for him? That’s quite evident. That he’s not stupid? Of course not, see ‘billionaire con man.’
Okay, yah, shoor – he’s a ‘formidable politician’ in that he’s run a highly successful campaign. However, what we need in the oval office is a competent statesman, not a loudmouth con man.
Consider how he makes his money. He talks big about his yuge plans, gets partners and investors on board, and sets himself up as CEO. Then, when the venture goes south, he walks away richer while the people who supported him wind up poorer.
Now he wants to be president. He talks big about his yuge plans, gets suckers and losers on board . . .
No, he’s not stupid.
You surprise me after calling him stupid here.
Links! Congratulations, you’re learning.
But context is everything – his not-stupidity is confined to the whole con man thing as above. He’s no different than a three card Monte dealer, just wildly more successful. In that context, yeah, sure, he’s a flippin’ genius.
In the context of “most powerful human on the planet” not so much. One of my posts you linked points to ten examples of his stupidity in realms other than conning suckers and losers.
In the previous election (Obama – 332 EV vs. Romney – 206 EV):
Romney won by a total of 153 EVs in contests by a margin of more than 10%. Romney was not a wildly popular candidate, and he still won 19 winner-take-all contests and most of Nebraska. Obama won 190 EVs by more than 10% in 15 WTAs and most of Maine.
Here’s the scary part (especially if you’re Team Hillary):
Romney won by <10% in ONLY five contests: Missouri 9.5% (10 EVs); Arizona 9% (11); Georgia 8% (16); Nebraska 2nd district 7% (1); North Carolina 2% (15). EVs = 53.
HOWEVER, Obama won these TWELVE contests by less than 10%:
Michigan 9.5% (16 EVs); Maine 2nd dist 9% (1); Minnesota 8% (10); Wisconsin 7% (10); Nevada 6.5% (6); Iowa 5.81% (6); New Hampshire 5.58% (4); Pennsylvania 5.5% (20); Colorado 5.4% (9); Virginia 3.88% (13); Ohio 3% (18); and Florida <1% (29). EVs = 142.
Obama was a very popular candidate. Romney, not so much. AND Obama was an incumbent president. Those were two things working in Obama's favor but a lot of contests, he won, but not by blowouts.
HRC and Trump both have terrible negative numbers. Those will probably cancel each other out to an extent. But whereas Trump DOES have a certain insane charisma, HRC does not. Neither is an incumbent president. Some of the Democratic base is not going to vote for HRC, regardless. And, as I predicted earlier, the Republican base is already making noise about learning to live with Trump.
From the back of my envelope, I think any state that Obama/Romney won by <5% is probably going to go to the other side.
That means Trump will pick up Florida (29), Ohio (18) and Virginia (13). Clinton, meanwhile, will get North Carolina (15). However, Clinton will also almost certainly get Arkansas as well.
The new totals? Reps = 245; Dems = 293. That's at 5% swing. And HRC squeezes into the White House by a 48 point spread. Not bad. Not great, but not bad.
At ~5.5% swing? Trump would pick up Colorado (9), Pennsylvania (20) and New Hampshire (4).
Reps = 278; Dems = 260. That's the tipping point, using the numbers from the last election.
Even better, however, at that ~5.5% mark? Trump could pick up Pennsylvania and New Hampshire but lose Colorado. Those totals? Reps = 269; Dems = 269.
Here’s a different handicapping – or conspiracy theory if you like (and I’m folding my tinfoil hat as we speak.)
The GOPuppet Masters have been grooming Hillary for years for just this election. They’ve been shouting she’s inevitable just as loudly as their Dummycrat counterparts. They’ve always intended to indict her on emailgate after she’s nominated, so their good ol’ boy can slither smoothly into office.
Then along came The Donald. If they spring their carefully crafted trap now, they’ll catch themselves just like Wile E. Coyote. If they don’t – well, they’ll still have a right wing prez, but the dummycrats will get all the credit.
In ’08, Bill laid low, so Hillary could say she won all by herself. Only that didn’t work. Hillary is no politician. She got to be Senator because of Bill. Everything she says annoys voters. But this time, Bill is pulling out all his stops.
About 90% of African-Americans love Bill. Why, I don’t know. He put a lot of them in jail. But the ones not in jail who can vote almost all love Bill, and will vote for Hillary.
Most women over 40 want Hillary as our First* Woman President. Those under 40 are NOT going to vote for Trump. They won’t vote for Hillary, but that won’t matter.
Likewise, Hispanics love Bill (though he removed more of them than any other president, but with other removals than deportations). Most non-Cuban Hispanics will vote for Hillary.
Ma Ferguson is the model. She was the First* Woman Governor of Texas because the legislature voted to prohibit Pa Ferguson from running for or being governor, so voters figured putting up Ma was Pa’s way around the legislature, so they voted for Ma. A LOT of (iMHO idiot) voters will vote for Hillary, figuring it’s Bill’s way of getting around term limits.
And Hillary has to prove she’s tougher than Obama. Or the Bushes. Or Bill. Or Harry. So she’ll overthrow the evil Syrian regime before Summer ’17. Putin has said he will NOT let anyone overthrow the legitimate government of Syria, but he’d better meekly back down: Hillary is NOT bluffing. Then he’d better give back the Crimea.
And China better give back the West Philippine Sea.
Hillary won’t stand for any nonsense, they’d better do as she says. Or else.
(And people worry that Trump might win and get the nuclear launch codes, when he doesn’t even know what the nuclear triad is? Hillary DOES know. And that scares me more than Trump’s ignorance.)
A few addenda.
1. I notice over at DailyKos (and if you ever want to see where the low-information Democrats are, there’s quite a bunch over there; some pretty sharp people too, but mostly, it’s feel-feels and lots of photo-heavy diaries and in-jokes about pie — it’s impossible to take them seriously, with a very few exceptions) that there are a couple of posts starting to crop up pointing out that HRC might not be the candidate who can. get. it. done. after all.
2. Trump’s strategy is right out of Hitler’s playbook. I don’t mean Trump’s ideology. I mean the actual method by which he gets people to support him. Reagan used to do it too. And so did Bill Clinton. It doesn’t matter WHAT you say as long as you say it right. Lots of stirring invocations: morning in America, boxers or briefs, yuge. Doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, as long as you can fake giving a shit about the rabble, they will send their sons to run in front of machine guns for you. It’s the persona you project. And Trump, like him or hate him, projects confidence. Trump will never blush. Reagan wouldn’t either. Nor would Bill Clinton, Pres. Cheney, etc. Because they all believed in their own “specialness.” That’s why people support them. It’s also why HRC is so popular: she honestly thinks she can. get. it. done. Any sane person would realize she can’t, just by looking at her anemic record, her trainwreck of a scandal-filled career, etc. But she’s just so goshdarn sure of her own infallibility, her supporters will march her right up to the gates of the White House, and Donald Trump, who won the election, will have the rooftop sniper fire off a few warning shots to disperse the crowds …
3. The Sanders people kicked up a fuss over there in Nevada. The DNC doesn’t get it, do they? The people Sanders brought into the tent aren’t going to stick around when he goes back to Vermont. They’re going to leave, and probably take a few more with them. Check those states that wildly popular Obama won by only 6%. HRC is for the fight of her life, and she’s now at the point where she’s got one leg on each side of the crack in the ice, and the two sheets are starting to separate. I still keep thinking that in the way life has of once in a great while being perfectly ironic, she will tie Trump, 269-269: the ultimate statement on how ineffectual she is. But I’m also thinking it’s starting to become possible that Trump will have something like a 40-state victory as all the bugs come out of the woodwork.
4. If HRC is beaten by a huge margin, it will, pretty much, mean the end of both royal houses in America: The Bushes AND the Clintons will pass into history. And who will come after Trump, I wonder. Shall we start organizing the DraftBernie2016 movement?
This is Trump’s second presidential campaign. He ran for president in 2000.
I’m afraid Hillary will win, Donald and Bernie will retire, and Snowden will be stuck in Moscow (which I’m told is a quite attractive city to live in at least). Though to be fair they did have a good run and got much further than most people would have anticipated.
Ask not what a president can do for your country, ask what you can do for Ted’s Book sales!
I don’t think HRC will win. I accept it as a possibility. But I don’t think it is a likely possibility. (And even if she wins, she’s going to be locked down by the Republican Senate and House before she even takes her hand off the Bible at the swearing in.)
Sanders’ campaign, and this has been freely admitted on multiple pro-Sanders sites, has been terribly run. Part of it is the problems inherent in the system: the insiders tend to stay with the insiders, so the people with the real experience aren’t going to help Sanders, no matter how much he offers them. Enthusiasm goes far, but it doesn’t go all the way. HRC had all the inside moves. She had the DNC loading the dice all the way. She had her husband’s name to trade off of. And look at how mediocre she’s been.
HRC’s performance is a C plus at best. Perhaps a B double minus. Trump is already mending fences with the Republicans. And he’s doing it by appealing to their greatest weakness: a hatred of Hillary Rodham Clinton. If Sanders won the nomination by a miracle (or an indictment), there’d be a better-than-even chance for the Dems because the insiders would swing over to him to try to glom on and because the Republicans would not have HRC to rally against.
Trump only needs to backpedal a little bit. Stick to scapegoating Muslims and illegal Mexicans, keep muttering criticism of the government, and he’ll be elected in a landslide.
It’s still early days. Plenty can still go wrong on either side. But I’m not going to hold my breath on the first WPOTUS.
As Paul Krugman writes, almost all African-Americans will vote for Hillary because she has a proven track record of being the best thing that ever happened to them. Not clear where Krugman gets that Hillary was the best thing that ever happened to them, but he’s right, that’s how she’s perceived (meaning, she’s the way Bill can evade term limits).
She’s gotten huge majorities (and almost all the delegates) in the South, and split the vote about evenly almost everywhere else, but still, in a two-person race, she’s already certain to get the plurality of the elected delegates. She might not have a majority, depending on whether the polls are accurate about June 7 (if the polls are right, she’ll get her majority on June 7). If it’s one of those strange cases like Michigan where the polls said she was 90% certain to win, but she lost, she might not have a majority on June 7, but she’ll still have a plurality, and the Super Delegates will see that she has the majority at the convention.
The only goal is winning the nomination, and she’s done a Great Job of that. To say she’s done badly is to disregard the actual data.
You said: “The only goal is winning the nomination, and she’s done a Great Job of that.”
For Clinton to be limping over the finish line with Sanders still about just six steps behind her this late in the game? This isn’t some schlub from Podunk. This is Hillary Freakin’ Rodham Clinton — one of the most well-known women in the world. She’s politically connected, she’s buddy-buddy with lots of people in business and on Wall Street. She’s got a lot of people voting for her because they think it’ll be her husband’s third term. This should have been like Arnold Schwarzenegger going up against someone’s great-grandmother in a no holds barred steel cage grudge match.
Kerry and Gore did a great job (each won pretty much every contest). And both lost the general. Even Dukakis did better than HRC. And lost. Trump had his opposition blown out of the water early in March. The numbers were … yuge. He’s taking his friggin’ victory lap right now, and Hillary’s still there beating on Sanders’ head with a folding chair screaming, “Die, die, why won’t you die?!”
In the first 10 contests, Trump was first seven times and second two times. And that one other contest? Third. The second 10 contests? First five times, second five times. If he was an Olympic team, everyone would be saying “Steroids.” Out loud.
When you place first or second 19 times in the first 20 contests, that’s not a fluke. That’s a fact. He had 12 wins, and his opponents, collectively, split the remaining 8. And that was on March 6, Puerto Rico.
Now THAT, is a GREAT JOB.
And the Democrats are STILL thinking this is going to be a “use your words” event. God help us all.
When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
H. L. Mencken – 1920
“All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”
CrazyH, I am shocked. Really! I am shocked.
“…on the man OR WOMAN …”
Get it right!
Wouldn’t think you’d be one to quote a “wingnut.”
Mencken was a chauvinist and a racist, that’s true. But he nonetheless said a lot quotable things.
One that’s particularly suited to any discussion involving Trump is, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”
(Note to the iiterati in the group: Yes, I know he didn’t quite put it that way, that’s just the popular version)
“literati” – coffee first, type second %^,
Oh, here’s another way Trump will win. HRC v. Trump in any debate with a terrorist attack freshly in the news? Trump will crucify her just by saying, “Tell it to the people on that plane.”
Hey, it worked for Dumbya – once again proving that you *can* fool some of the people all of the time.
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