Donald Trump prevailed and is now the GOP’s presumptive nominee. With Ted Cruz bowing out of the race after his Indiana loss, the path is clear for the anti-establishment plutocrat to clinch the nomination, and it does not appear the RNC will stand in his way.
Trump, for his part, has given the Democrats a preview of what’s to come in his remarks after claiming victory:
It is quite clear that Trump is positioning himself to run to the left of Clinton on the most crucial issues for voters in either party: jobs and trade. On foreign policy, Trump is positioning himself, rightly or wrongly, to realign America’s purpose as a superpower, abandoning the notion that the superpower must bear the cost for its primacy.
Most observers have been evaluating Trump’s policy statements against conventional wisdom and their own way of thinking about policy instead of evaluating Trump according to his world view, experience, and understanding of the way the American public thinks about policy. Trump has been uncannily astute in the way he has tailored his campaign message and that messaging resonated with voters.
Many observers now point to a reckoning in the GOP, following Trump’s victory. A different scenario, however, could be that the party, subdued by the collective defeats of all establishment candidates, will simply fall in line with Trump for as long as he is the party’s candidate, and leave any realignment for the days following the general election. The last thing establishment Republicans want, at this point in time, is to further antagonize a rebelling base.
In the more immediate time frame, a reckoning that is sure to unfold is not be the GOP’s but the Democrats’. Now that Trump is clearly running to the left of Mrs. Clinton on the issues that matter most to the middle and working classes, the fight for voters will be focused on economics more than anything else. Senator Sanders clearly appeals to that part of the Democratic electorate for whom jobs are the number one concern, with a much clearer appeal for Republicans who won’t vote for Trump. In consistent polling over the last few months, the match-up between Clinton and Trump yields a far less consistent and comfortable margin for Democrats than it does between Trump and Sanders. Sanders beats Trump by a far wider margin than Clinton, with no losses, whereas Clinton beats Trump in some polls but not others. Trump knows it and it was very clear from his victory speech that this is what informs his approach to the general election. If Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, Trump will go after Sanders’ voters, putting her in the difficult position of pivoting center and risking the loss of Sanders voters, or pivoting left and losing any chance of winning at least some of Trump’s. In match-ups against Trump, Clinton’s slim margins point to a big gamble either way:
The problems Clinton faces, at the core, are with trust. Will voters trust her to stay left if that is how she runs? Do they already mistrust her for having labeled herself a progressive but not having fully committed to progressive policies? The answer seems to be found in the match-up between Sanders and Trump, with wider margins, and solidly consistent results:
In an investigation published this week in Politico, the following findings were made regarding Hillary Clinton’s claims that she is the only Democrat who is raising funds for down-ticket candidates:
“The Democratic front-runner says she’s raising big checks to help state committees, but they’ve gotten to keep only 1 percent of the $60 million raised.
In the days before Hillary Clinton launched an unprecedented big-money fundraising vehicle with state parties last summer, she vowed “to rebuild our party from the ground up,” proclaiming “when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”
But less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by that effort has stayed in the state parties’ coffers, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission filings.”
This is yet another attack on Senator Sanders’ character that ends up being debunked, making Secretary Clinton’s tactics seem unsavory, and confirming the suspicions that the DNC is participating in unfair practices.
The #NeverTrump movement never took off, if it even existed. While there was much talk about it, what we were looking at all along was #NeverTheEstablishment. Trump is the representative of that movement on the right, but one must keep in mind that the anti-establishment sentiment is strong on both sides.
Many analysts have fallen into the trap of characterizing Trump supporters as low-information and, surmising from that label, that Trump’s success won’t extend to the general election. That kind of assumption is always very dangerous, not to mention dismissive. In an article based on exit polling, Politico’s Scott Bland exposes ‘5 myths about Trump supporters:’
“Blue-collar voters certainly make up the bulk of Trump’s large coalition, but he is also doing very well among Republicans with college degrees. In six of the statewide GOP exit polls so far, Trump was the most popular candidate among college-educated voters.”
The other myths Bland debunks are at least as significant, and they include the women won’t vote for Trump fallacy. Too many assumptions are still being made about Trump’s abilities, even in the face of spectacular success that begins with the best business model ever employed in any candidacy: getting $ 2 billion in free advertising, and in the form of constant media attention.
Trump may be unorthodox, but it is his lack of orthodoxy that has gotten him this far and continuing to deride his success, at this point, only makes those who dismiss Trump seem unwilling to admit that they were wrong in presenting their wishful thinking as reality. If Trump managed to get this far, isn’t it past time we stopped doubting how much farther he could go? Given Trump’s success, isn’t it also time we ditched our assumptions about who votes for Trump and started looking at why they’re voting for him?
Voters want change. Only two candidates offer that by virtue of their candidacies. Those two candidates are mirror opposites of each other. Neither represents any part of the establishment.
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